Reviewed: Essie's Lady Like Nail Polish Is Delightfully Subtle

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Essie Lady Like

Essie Nail Polish in Lady Like

Nicole Kliest

What We Like
  • Versatile color

  • Goes on smoothly

  • Long-lasting, glossy finish

  • Vegan and cruelty-free

  • Accessible price point

What We Don't Like
  • Not Byrdie Clean

  • Will chip more quickly without a top coat

As someone who hasn’t worn nail polish in years, I appreciated Essie's Lady Like, as it felt like a natural, easy-to-wear color. It’s well-suited for a less-is-more aesthetic, and the subtle finish is long-lasting when you use the polish in combination with a base and top coat.


Essie Lady Like

Essie Nail Polish in Lady Like

Nicole Kliest

We put the Essie Lady Like Nail Polish to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

This might sound shocking to some, but I haven’t worn nail polish in a few years—maybe even longer. My decision to stop was a mix of growing frustrated with the damage it was doing to my nails and just generally not enjoying having color on my hands. I usually take a pretty pared-back approach to style and beauty, and having a swipe of olive green or powder blue just felt disconnected with my aesthetic. So, when I was assigned a review of Essie’s beloved Lady Like I was conflicted: do I break my streak or do I opt out of the review? As you can guess, I went for it. Keep reading to learn whether my experience convinced me to give nail polish another try.

Essie Nail Polish in Lady Like

Best for: Most nails.

Uses: A subtle, versatile nail polish with lasting glossy color.

Byrdie Clean? No; contains formaldehyde resin and polyethylene terephthalate.

Price: $9

About the brand: Essie is a nail brand that got its start in the early 1980s and has evolved to be one of the most well-known labels in the world, with a range of beloved shades available at most drugstores. They do not test on animals and by the end of 2020, they had reformulated their full portfolio to be 100% vegan.

About My Nails: Always bare

As mentioned above, I haven't worn nail polish in years, so it’s pretty simple on all fronts. My natural nails are strong and I use at-home tools to maintain my nail shape and cuticle beds. I also love cuticle cream.

How to Apply: One coat

Essie Nail Polish Full System

Nicole Kliest

Back when I was wearing nail polish more regularly, I’d always apply two coats of whatever lacquer I was applying. However, with Essie's Lady Like, one coat was enough and got the job done. Before doing so, I applied essie’s Smooth-E Base Coat, and I followed up Lady Like with the brand’s Gel-Setter Top Coat.

The Results: Subtle and neutral

Essie Nail Polish in Lady Like Results on Nicole Kliest

Nicole Kliest/Design by Cristina Cianci

Despite my nail polish nay-saying ways, I was surprised by how low-key and natural Essie's Lady Like looked. I had forgotten how a soft shade of mauve can add polish to your appearance. The color lasted well, too, so this is a great option for those who have a low-maintenance routine and want something that will pair with a range of upcoming looks without quickly chipping.

The Value: Good

For less than $10, you can’t beat the value of Essie's Lady Like nail polish. Plus, it’s the kind of timeless color you’ll want to wear at any time of year or age in life. It's no wonder that this and other Essie classics have built so much popularity among casual fans and regular nail polish users alike.

Similar Products: You've got options

J.Hannah Nail Polish in Dune: Designer Jess Hannah created a line of nail polishes for the “color-resistant” (AKA me), which makes it unsurprising that I’d suggest her lineup. A sandy nude, the Dune shade ($19) is a personal favorite.

JinSoon x Suzie Kondi Nail Polish in Piedra: This nail polish collaboration caught my eye, especially the Piedra color ($18), which is a stone-colored cream hue. The three colors in this collection were all inspired by Mexican architect Luis Barragan, bringing a joyous, modernist energy that pairs well with summer fashion and cultured conversations.

Sundays Nail Polish in No.25: This earthy rose shade ($18) has quickly become popular among fans of New York-based nail brand Sundays, thanks to its non-toxic formula and versatile neutral finish. It applies cleanly and is great for times when true red or pink seems like too much.

Final Verdict

If you’re in need of a subtle nail polish that offers high-shine and long-lasting durability, make it Essie's Lady Like. It was easy to use for an at-home manicure, and the versatile finish made me reevaluate my no nail polish policy.


  • Product Name Lady Like
  • Product Brand Essie
  • Price $9.00
  • Weight 0.46 oz.
  • Full Ingredient List Ethyl Acetate, Butyl Acetate, Nitrocellulose, Propyl Acetate, Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin, Isopropyl Alcohol, Trimethyl Pentanyl Diisobutyrate, Triphenyl Phosphate, Ethyl Tosylamide, Camphor, Stearalkonium Bentonite, Diacetone Alcohol, Stearalkonium Hectorite, Benzophenone-1, Citric Acid, Colophonium /Rosin/Colophane, Silica, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Alumina, Dimethicone, Aluminum Calcium Sodium Silicate, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate, Tin Oxide, Polyethylene Terephthalate, Calcium Sodium Borosilicate, Polyurethane-11. May Contain: Ci 77891/Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Ci 77120/Barium Sulfate, Ci 77491, Ci 77499/Iron Oxides, Ci 15880/Red 34 Lake, Ci 19140/Yellow 5 Lake, Ci 15850/Red 7 Lake, Ci 15850/Red 6 Lake, Ci 77510/Ferric Ammonium Ferrocyanide, Ci 77163/Bismuth Oxychloride, Ci 77266/Black 2, Ci 77000/Aluminum Powder, Ci 77007/Ultramarines, Ci 42090/Blue 1 Lake, Ci 77510/Ferric Ferrocyanide, Ci 15880/Red 34, Ci 73360/Red 30 Lake, Ci 75170/Guanine, Ci 47000/Yellow 11, Ci 73360/Red 30, Ci 60725/Violet 2.

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