We Tested 22 White Nail Polishes—These 9 Are the Best of the Bunch

Our Top Pick Is Dazzle Dry in White Lightning

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White Nail Polish Hero

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Chrome finishes and intricate nail designs are ultra-popular these days, but a simple white manicure is timeless. White nails are neutral, meaning they take the guesswork out of matching your mani to your outfit, and according to nail artist Syreeta Aaron, "White polish is a seasonless and timeless color." So, no need to reserve white nails for the summertime—enjoy them all year round. 

Byrdie Tested & Approved

Our favorite white nail polish is Dazzle Dry’s shiny, classic white shade in White Lightning. It scored perfect ratings across the board and delivered a high-shine finish, brief dry time, and the ideal amount of opacity.

White nail polishes might appear similar at first glance, but there are shade nuances as well as performance attributes that make some better than others. To help you find the best options on the market, we tested dozens of formulas on the basis of application, drying time, and overall look. The Dazzle Dry polish in White Lightning is our favorite, but we’re sharing several other options that have our testers' stamp of approval. 

Below, find the best white nail polishes tested by Byrdie.

Best Overall: Dazzle Dry In White Lightning

5
Dazzle Dry in White Lightening

Dazzle Dry

What We Like
  • Curved brush makes application easy

  • Non-streaky

  • Dries quickly

  • High-shine finish

What We Don't Like
  • Not long-lasting

Looking for a classic white shade that’s formulated without many of the controversial nail polish ingredients? The Dazzle Dry White Lightning polish fits the bill—and it scored perfect ratings from our tester. She noted that the slight curve to the brush made even application a breeze, the polish went on with minimal streaking, and it looked totally opaque after the second coat. It completely dried down with a high-shine finish in just 20 minutes. 

Shade: White Lightning | Finish: Shiny | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Dazzle Dry in White Lightening

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

What Our Testers Say

 "The finish looks amazing after only two coats. The polish looks smooth, even, and shiny."—Jia Wei, Product Tester

Best Drugstore: Essie Nail Polish in Blanc

5
Essie Nail Polish in Blanc

Ulta

What We Like
  • Classic white shade

  • Opaque in two coats

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Some may not prefer shiny finish

It’s safe to say that Essie has one of the most extensive shade ranges on the market—and several variations of white nail polish. When it comes to this option, it offers a neutral white hue with rich opacity in two coats. Our tester noted that the first coat applied slightly streaky (which is fairly common), but once she painted on the second coat, her nails looked totally even. She was also impressed with the drying time, saying that two coats were fully dry in 20 minutes

However, our tester revealed that she would have appreciated a matte finish with less color intensity and a less-opaque finish. This is a matter of preference, though, so if intensity, shine, and full coverage sound ideal, this may be the polish for you.

Shade: Blanc | Finish: Shiny | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Essie Nail Polish in Blanc

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

What Our Testers Say

“I always press gently on my nail polish to determine if it's dry and then if there's no fingerprint or smudge, press harder. I pressed very hard, and there was no residual imprint in the polish. I am confident I could go about my day and retain the beauty of my nails.”—Patricia Bailey, Product Tester

Best Application: Static Nails Liquid Glass Lacquer in Elixir

5
Static Nails Elixir White Polish

Static Nails

What We Like
  • Non-goopy consistency

  • Smooth application

  • Opaque coverage

What We Don't Like
  • A bit streaky

Considering that the term “liquid glass” is in the name, it’s no surprise that our tester said this polish has a “salon-like quality.” The ultra-shiny formula coats the nails in true white pigment and dries down to a glass-like finish, all while containing protective ingredients, like primrose and green tea. 

Our tester reported that two coats created full opacity, and she appreciated that the formula isn’t thick or goopy, saving her from a messy application. 

Shade: Elixir | Finish: Shiny | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Static Nails Elixir

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

What Our Testers Say

“It gives a shiny feel and no smudges. I am not a huge fan of white polish, but I’m impressed.—Leslie Kelly, Product Tester

Best Quick-Dry: d.i.d. Nail Paint In Clean Slate

5
d.i.d Nail Paint Clean Slate

d.i.d. Nail Paint

What We Like
  • Smooth application

  • Streak free

  • Thin formula

What We Don't Like
  • Shade is more off-white than true white

If you prefer a white manicure with a milky, semi-sheer finish rather than full opacity, this polish is a solid option for you. Our tester noted that the thin formula did not create streakiness on her nails—the finish was even, shiny and smooth. 

She also stated that because the consistency is quite thin, two coats dried completely in around 15 minutes, making it a great choice if you’re tight on time.  

Shade: Clean Slate | Finish: Shiny, semi-sheer | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

What Our Testers Say

“Due to the consistency of the polish, very thin sheer coats dry extremely fast.”—Nikki Berryman, Product Tester

Best Sheer: Essie Nail Polish in Marshmallow

4.7
Essie in Marshmallow
What We Like
  • Sheer, milky shade

  • Shiny finish

  • Customizable

What We Don't Like
  • Contains formaldehyde resin

A milky white shade is a super easy color to pull off for any occasion; from weddings to vacations to everyday wear, you'll be covered. This one provides a sheer layer of milky white pigment with one coat, a semi-sheer layer with even coverage in two coats, and an opaque finish in three coats, making it easy to customize your look. 

While the tester noted that she had experienced minor streaking, she chalked that up to her application rather than the formula. To avoid streaks, we suggest applying two generous coats. 

Shade: Marshmallow | Finish: Shiny, sheer | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best High-Shine: Olive & June Nail Polish in HD

4.7
Olive & June Nail Polish HD

Olive & June

What We Like
  • Opaque coverage

  • Shiny finish

  • Classic white shade

What We Don't Like
  • Long drying time

If you’re looking for a bright, opaque white shade with a very shiny finish, this is the one for you. Our tester loved how effortless it was to apply, saying that the first coat went on nice and thin, making it easy to apply the polish in just one stroke. “The brush was slightly wider at the tip, which made it easy to get the entire base of the nail covered with polish on the first stroke.”

She also explained that while one coat did not provide full coverage, the second coat created full opacity, and her nails looked shiny even without a topcoat. When it comes to the drying time, she said it took around 35 minutes for the polish to dry fully. 

Shade: HD | Finish: Shiny | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

 Olive & June Nail Polish in HD

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Best Pearlescent: Auda B Beauty Mother Of La Pearls

4.3
Auda B Beauty Mother Of La Pearls
What We Like
  • Pearly finish

  • Fast drying time

What We Don't Like
  • Slim brush

The brand describes this polish as having a metallic finish, but considering how fine the pearlescence is, it looks like a hybrid between a metallic and a pearl shade on the nails. Our tester said that the iridescence gives it an ethereal look, and she could see herself wearing it daily despite the season.

In terms of the brush, she had some critiques. “It didn't have much weight to it, so I had to run the length of my nail a couple times to achieve coverage,” she says. “The polish applied smoothly, but due to the brush being so slim, I needed a couple re-dips to get a single coat in place.”

Shade: Mother Of La Pearls | Finish: Pearly | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Auda B Beauty Mother Of La Pearls

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Best Gel-Dupe: Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro

Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro in Beachin'

Sephora

What We Like
  • Quick-drying

  • Shiny finish

  • Gel-like appearance

What We Don't Like
  • Short brush

Described by the brand as a healthy alternative to gel polish, this white shade requires no lamps or LED lights to achieve its ultra-shiny, gel-like appearance. Our tester said that it looked smooth and shiny in three coats and that it dried down almost entirely in about 20 minutes. 

She did note that while application was relatively easy, she wished that the brush handle were longer, making it easier to hold. As for the brush itself, she noted that its flat and dense shape made coating the nails easy.

Shade: Amazing Grace | Finish: Shiny | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro in Amazing Grace

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Best Vegan: Taupe Coat in Pearlie

4.2
Taupe Coat Pearlie

Blk + Grn

What We Like
  • Pearlescent finish

  • Nontoxic

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't build up to full opacity

This pearly, sheer white nail color deserves a spot in your beauty stash—especially if you stick to vegan formulas. It doesn’t contain animal-derived ingredients, is completely nontoxic, and is cruelty-free. 

Our tester explained that while several coats of the polish don’t build up for much opacity, the sheer, iridescent finish looked gorgeous on her nails. She also noted that because it’s a sheer formula, it could be used as a pearly topcoat for a customized manicure. 

Shade: Pearlie | Finish: Pearly | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Taupe Coat Pearlescent

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Final Verdict

Our favorite white nail polish is Dazzle Dry’s shiny, classic white shade in White Lightning. But if you’re looking for a milky white shade that will help you achieve a more subtle manicure, you’ll love Essie’s Marshmallow

How We Tested

Byrdie editors took their time researching popular white nail polishes, taking expert recommendations and user reviews into account before narrowing it down to 22 to try out firsthand. The application, drying time, and overall look of each polish was assessed by our testers, who applied the products on their nails and allowed time for drying. 

They began by applying one coat of each polish and assessing the application for evenness and streaks, before layering on additional coats to test for buildability and opacity. Then, they tested the dryness of the polish by gently pressing their fingers on the nail polish to see whether smudges or indentations were made. All tests were performed in The Lab, our Manhattan product testing facility.

Other Options We Tested

Lights Lacquer Nail Polish in Paper Snow

While this bright white polish looked crisp and shiny on the nails, our tester felt that the formula was too thick, making application difficult. 

Lights Lacquer Nail Polish in Paper Snow

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

OPI Nail Lacquer in Funny Bunny

There’s no denying that this popular shade is gorgeous on the nails, and while our tester loved the slightly translucent shade, she took issue with the drying time. She felt that three coats yielded the best results on the nails, but took around an hour to dry. 

OPI Nail Lacquer in Funny Bunny

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Sephora Collection Color Hit Mini Nail Polish in LO2 Under the Covers

It’s hard to beat the affordable price tag of this white nail polish, but our tester noted that it was hard to avoid streaks while applying this one, and the drying time was pretty long. However, she did explain that she was able to achieve a pretty even application with three coats. 

Sephora Collection Color Hit Mini Nail Polish in LO2 Under the Covers

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

What to Look for When Buying White Nail Polish:

The Right Shade 

There are no rules when it comes to choosing a white nail polish, but taking the shade of white into consideration can help you achieve your desired look. For example, if you like a bold manicure, you’ll want to opt for a bright white color with full opacity so that it creates contrast against your skin. If you prefer a more toned-down look, choosing an off-white shade or a white polish with a sheer formula will better suit your preferences. 

Formula and Finish

As you can see from our list, not all white nail polishes look the same on the nails. While some are opaque with glassy finishes, others appear sheer and pearly. Understanding what look you're going for will help inform your choices. Some of our testers noted that thick, fully opaque formulas were a bit too stark or tricky to work with, while others stated that sheer formulas didn’t give them the buildability they were looking for—it all comes down to your preferences. 

The Brush

The size and shape of the brush can make all the difference in the outcome of your manicure. If you have narrow nail beds, a polish with a thin brush will be easier for you to work with. One of our testers with long nail beds noted that she prefers longer, more dense brushes because they can coat her nails in fewer strokes.

FAQ
  • How long does white nail polish last on the nails?

    No matter what color you’re using, the amount of time that white nail polish will last on your nails depends on several factors. If you prep your nails with a base coat and apply a topcoat to seal in the polish, your manicure should remain chip-free for around three to seven days. 

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

    The number of coats you should apply varies, depending on the formula you’re working with. While some polishes will require three coats for an even, opaque finish, others will look great with just two coats. If you’re working with a sheer formula, and you want to build up the opacity, you might need to apply as many as four coats. 

  • When does white nail polish expire?

    White nail polish can last for years, so long as the bottle is tightly sealed. However, according to Julie Kandalec, NYC-based celebrity manicurist, white nail polish formulas will thicken most quickly due to their chemical makeup. 

Meet the Expert

  • Syreeta Aaron is an Alabama-based nail artist as well as a brand ambassador and educator for Lechat
  • Julie Kandalec is an NYC-based celebrity manicurist and owner of Julie K Nail Artelier. She’s also an entrepreneur who teaches courses on entrepreneurship in the nail industry.


What Is Byrdie Verified?

Did you notice the Byrdie Verified seal of approval at the top of this story? This seal means that our team has researched and tested every product on this list using a unique methodology that’s designed to focus on what our readers really want to know—and to deliver insights that you can’t find anywhere else. Occasionally, beauty brands and PR agencies will send us samples for coverage consideration, but our thoughts and opinions are fully our own. If you visit links within our content, we may receive commissions from your purchases, but we never receive any compensation or consideration for the content of our recommendations. In short, the Byrdie Verified seal stands for product recommendations you can trust.

Why Trust Byrdie

Alyssa Kaplan is an experienced writer in the beauty industry and a product tester specializing in cosmetics. She has been doing her own nails at home for over 10 years and has consistently used many of the brands on this list, including Essie, OPI, Lights Lacquer, Zoya, and more. Since 2022, Alyssa has been a commerce writer at Byrdie, where she covers all things beauty.

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