The 12 Best White Nail Polishes to Make Finding Your Favorite Shade Simple

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If you’ve walked into a nail salon, you know the feeling of being overwhelmed with a nail polish wall full of rainbow-colored shades. There are bold shades, seasonal hues, bright colors, and a wide range of neutrals, leaving you unsure of which you’re in the mood for. However, there’s one shade that blurs the line between bright and neutral, ultimately securing a permanent spot in our rotation—the classic white

It’s great for appeasing all kinds of polish preferences, yet subtle enough to be considered neutral while making a statement on its own. Not to mention it looks great on all skin tones, seasonally appropriate all year-round, and provides a necessary blank canvas for any nail art designs. Still, if you’ve ever tried to pick out a shade of white, you know the options are endless. 

Below, the best white nail polishes to help make the selection process a bit easier.

Our Top Picks
Its long-lasting formula, gel-like finish, subtle touch of softness, and clean, crisp white shade are why we adore it.
Despite its wallet-friendly price tag, this polish works just as well as its pricier counterparts.
This drugstore pick provides consistent results without chipping.
This at-home gel formula features all the positives—without the harsh removal or potential for nail damage.
If you’re searching for a white that gives off a beautiful pearly sheen, you’ll adore this shade.
Swipe on one coat for a sheer finish, or build it up with another coat or two if you want more opacity.
This delivers completely opaque coverage with just two swipes.
It’s semi-opaque white, lasts up to 7 days, and dries under ten minutes.
Thanks to a base and topcoat mixed into its formula, this pick will save you tons of time while doing your nails.
With its highly pigmented creme formula and rounded flat brush, this polish helps achieve the best French.

Best Overall: Olive & June HD

Olive & June HD
What We Like
  • Clean, crisp white shade

  • Long-lasting 

  • Easy-to-use fan-shaped brush 

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note it can be streaky

When it comes to selecting the best white polish, this one from Olive & June is tough to beat. Its long-lasting formula, gel-like finish, subtle touch of softness, and clean, crisp white shade are just some of the reasons why we adore it. Plus, we’d be remiss to mention that it pops on all skin tones and arrives with an easy-to-use wide fan-shaped brush. 

Shade: HD | Finish: Gel-like | Dry Time: 15 minutes | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Budget: Sinful Colors Sinful Colors Professional Nail Polish Snow Me White

Sinful Colors Nail Polish in Snow Me White
What We Like
  • High-quality formula 

  • Versatile for polish, detailing, or designs

  • Great color payoff 

What We Don't Like
  • Liquidy consistency 

  • Dry time varies 

  • Not recommended for oily nails 

Despite its wallet-friendly price tag, the sheer-white matte hue of this Sinful Colors polish works just as well as its pricier counterparts. Its high-quality formula acts great on its own but can be used for detailing and designs, too. And according to reviewers, just one or two coats will give you a great color payoff. 

Shade: Sheer Matte White | Finish: Semi-Matte | Dry Time: 10 to 20 minutes | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Drugstore: Essie Nail Polish in Blanc

Essie Nail Polish in Blanc
What We Like
  • Durable formula 

  • Glossy finish 

  • Provides consistent results

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers say the bottle dries out quickly 

Looking for a gorgeous shade of white to snag at your local drugstore? Try Essie Blanc. The pure snowy white lacquer brushes on seamlessly for a pop of all-over color or precise detailing—like french manicure tips—and is prone to less chipping, thanks to its durable formula. Plus, according to Julie Kandalec, this polish gives consistent results that you can count on. 

Shade: Snowy White | Finish: Glossy | Dry Time: 15 minutes | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Gel: Deborah Lipmann Gel Lab Pro in Amazing Grace

Deborah Lipmann Gel Lab Pro in Amazing Grace
What We Like
  • No chipping

  • Dries quickly

  • Protects nail from damage 

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey 

  • Tricky to apply 

What’s not to love about gel manicures? They provide a glossy finish, no chips, and minimal drying time. Thankfully, this at-home gel formula features all the positives—without the harsh removal or potential for nail damage. Better yet, the formula is also infused with good-for-you ingredients (like omega-6 fatty acids, biotin, and more) to help reduce moisture loss and protect nails from damage. 

Shade: Pure White | Finish: Opaque and Glossy | Dry Time: 8 to 10 minutes | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Metallic: Auda B Beauty Mother Of La Pearls

Auda B Beauty Mother Of La Pearls
What We Like
  • Gorgeous shade 

  • Pearly sheen 

  • Fancy yet playful 

What We Don't Like
  • Thicker formula 

If you’re searching for a white that gives off a beautiful pearly sheen, you’ll adore this shade from Auda B. The color is opaque but is infused with enough metallic shimmer to make it look like you just popped it out of an oyster. It’s a great way to offer a fun twist on a classic white yet is sophisticated enough to wear with your fanciest outfits. 

Shade: Metallic white | Finish: Thick | Dry Time: 15 minutes | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Sheer: Essie Nail Polish in Marshmallow

Essie in Marshmallow
What We Like
  • Buildable color 

  • Ability to create a variety of looks

What We Don't Like
  • Chips easily with heavy nail usage 

Selecting a more subtle, sheer white is great for those opting for a more subtle shade. Swipe on one coat for a sheer finish, or build it up with another coat or two if you want more opacity. And you can layer it over or under another shade to create an entirely new look. 

Shade: Subtle white | Finish: sheer finish | Dry Time: 15 minutes | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Opaque: OPI Nail Lacquer in Alpine Snow

Nail Polish, Alpine Snow, 0.5 fl. oz.
What We Like
  • Great color payoff

  • Clean, crisp white shade

  • Dries quickly

What We Don't Like
  • May require more than two coats

  • Dry time varies

You can also count on OPI to create tried and tried nail shades and Alpine Snow is no exception. The shade delivers completely opaque coverage—with just two swipes—and looks clean and crisp like a freshly laundered pair of sheets. Still, the finish gives plenty of shine to help avoid looking like you got White Out all over your nails. 

Shade: Clean and Crisp | Finish: Shiny | Dry Time: 15 minutes | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Quick Drying: CND Vinylux in Studio White

CND Vinylux Studio White
What We Like
  • Infused with keratin, vitamin E, and jojoba 

  • Long-lasting

  • Dries quickly

What We Don't Like
  • Multiple coats required

Finding a nail polish that lasts and dries quickly is no easy feat, which is where this CND polish comes into play. “It’s semi-opaque white (think of 2% milk), lasts up to 7 days, and dries under ten minutes, which is very rare for white shades,” explains Kandalec. The formula is also infused with keratin, vitamin E, and jojoba oil to keep your nails in tip-top shape while it’s worn.

Shade: Semi-opaque | Finish: Shiny | Dry Time: 10 minutes or less | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Multi-Tasker: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Color in Clearly Quick

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Color in Clearly Quick
What We Like
  • It's a topcoat and basecoat

  • Dries quickly

  • No post manicure smudging 

What We Don't Like
  • Chips easily 

  • Bad applicator brush 

Thanks to a base and topcoat mixed into its formula, this Sally Hansen pick will save you tons of time (and money) while doing your nails. It promises to dry in 60 seconds, making it easy for you to fix up your nails in a pinch. Plus, did we mention you get to avoid the dreaded post-manicure smudges

Shade: Bright White | Finish: Shiny | Dry Time: 60 seconds | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for French Manicures: Lights Lacquer Nail Polish in Paper Snow

Lights Lacquer Paper Snow
What We Like
  • Great color payoff

  • Rounded flat brush with incredible control 

  • Creme formula 

What We Don't Like
  • Smaller bottle size 

Painting on a crisp white tip can be incredibly challenging—without the right polish shade or handle control. Thankfully, with its highly pigmented creme formula and rounded flat brush, this Lights Lacquer polish helps us achieve the best French. And, Kandalec agrees, mentioning that the paddle brush allows for incredible control. 

Shade: Bright white | Finish: Gel-like | Dry Time: 60 seconds (30 per coat) | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Off-White: Habit Cosmetics Non-Toxic + Vegan Nail Polish in 36 Moon Rock

Habit Cosmetics Non-Toxic + Vegan Nail Polish in 36 Moon Rock
What We Like
  • Strengthens nails 

  • Sustainably packaged 

  • Suitable for all skin tones

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

For a classic take on a white manicure, opt for an off-white polish. With its hint of pink and creme finish, this one from Habit Cosmetics is your best bet. It looks incredible on all skin tones, is sustainably packaged, and helps strengthen your nails over time. 

Shade: Off white | Finish: Creme | Dry Time: 15 minutes | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Shimmer Finish: Jinsoon Nail Polish in Akoya

Jinsoon Akoya
What We Like
  • Shimmery opal finish 

  • Great color payoff 

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Swap your typical white polish with this shimmery shade from Jinsoon. It’ll bring a touch of sparkle to your mani yet still feel subtle enough for everyday wear. Plus, its long-lasting formula provides intense color payoff with just two coats. 

Shade: White pearl | Finish: Glossy | Dry Time: 15 minutes | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

Regardless of whether you’re creating the best white manicure or beautiful french tips, white nail polish is necessary. Reigning in as our overall favorite is Olive & June HD (view at Olive & June). Its long-lasting formula provides a clean, crisp white shade and a subtle touch of softness that pops on all skin tones. Looking for some affordable finds? Opt for Sinful Colors Professional Nail Polish Snow Me White (view at Walmart) or Essie Blanc (view at Ulta). However, for at-home gel nails, your best bet is Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro in Amazing Grace (view at Amazon), which has minimal dry time and protects nails from damages and chipping.

What to Look for in a White Nail Polish

Clean Ingredients

The first thing Totty recommends looking for in a white nail polish (or any color polish) is healthy, clean ingredients. “We’ve come so far as an industry that stands for quality products that are cruelty-free and healthy,” she says. “There's no need for toluene, phthalates, formaldehyde, or formalin. The good ones usually contain vitamin E, green tea, or keratin to help improve the health of your nails.”

The Right Hue

Not all white polishes are created equal, so Totty says to make sure you choose a shade that works well with your skin tone. “A bright white nail lacquer looks great on most, especially in the summer, but some off-white colors won’t flatter everyone.” Additionally, she recommends reaching for a top coat with a light bluish or purple tint to neutralize any yellowing from UV rays.

Opaque, but Not Thick

The last important feature Totty says to look for is a polish that’s opaque but not too thick in texture, as thicker polish will lead to thicker coats, which are more prone to chipping. “White nail lacquer tends to thicken up faster because it has a lot of pigment in it to achieve good coverage,” she says. “Simply make sure you use nail polish thinner (not remover, those contain oils that will ruin your products) to keep it as good as new.” 

Formula

Kandalec advises shaking the bottle before you purchase, so you can make sure to hear the stainless steel mixing balls inside move about. “If you can’t hear them, the polish might be too thick for the beads to mix the pigments and solvents properly for an even finish.” 

Bristles

Opt to go for bristles that are longer and softer with a gentle arch shape. “The hairs shouldn’t be too thick (causes streaks), too short (causes ridges and dips), or splay out of place because all of them will affect the way the color lays.

FAQ
  • How long does white nail polish last?

    If you prep your nails properly, explains Kandalec, it should last with no chipping for 3 to 7 days.

  • How many coats of white nail polish do you need to apply?

    Normally, you’ll need to apply three to four coats, says Kandalec. However, sometimes two is enough.

  • When does white nail polish expire?

    White polish can last for years, as long as the neck and threads of the bottle are kept clean and tightly sealed advises Kandalec. “White polish will get thick the fastest of all colors though because of the chemical makeup, so take extra care with white- and white-based polishes.”  

Why Trust Byrdie?

Rachel Dube has been contributing to Byrdie since 2020 and has tons of experience writing about all things beauty. As someone who always opts for neutral shades, she was pleasantly surprised with how versatile white polish could be. Amongst her favorite polish brands are Olive & June, OPI, and Essie.

Meet the Expert

Anastasia Totty is a manicurist and a LeChat Nails Educator. She is the salon owner of Artistique Nails in Saint Johns, Florida.

Julie Kandalec is an NYC-based celebrity manicurist and owner of Julie K Nail Artelier.

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