Brands like OPI and Essie seem to have monopolized the manicure set, but I've done a little digging and unearthed a bevy of new and boutique beauty brands offering up top-notch lacquers worth noting.
Up and coming
Whet is a polish collection that delivers on its promise to serve up super shiny slick color in of-the-moment shades. Whet polishes, which retail for $15, are all 3-free, meaning free of the chemicals Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde and Toluene. The vegan formula lacquers are available in limited-edition, chip-resistant hues that slick on with a thick consistency and more than ample shine. Some of my favorites include Facetious, a vibrant royal blue; and Voluptuous, a shimmering fuchsia. Shop the collection at whetnails.com.
Another up-and-coming lacquer collection is that of Poland's Inglot Cosmetics. The company sells 3-free lacquers coined O2M — short for "Oxygen and Moisture" — that boast high-gloss finishes and short drying times. Plus, Inglot's polishes are "breathable," allowing air and moisture to pass through to the nail. This one fact has made the collection a breakout hit with Muslim women, many of whom typically restrict manicures because of their beliefs that it is essential that water make contact with nails during a pre-prayer washing ritual.
And while allowing both water and oxygen to permeate nails may in fact be healthier, as Inglot suggests, it's the lacquer hues themselves that I found most breathtaking. I adore 664 (left), a bright chartreuse green with shimmer to spare and 686, a simply stunning lilac. Shop the line at InglotUSA.com, O2M lacquers retail for $14 each.
Front-row and back-door lacquer collections
One of the most anticipated cosmetic collections of 2013 is that of Marc Jacobs, set to be released at Sephora stores August 9. Marc Jacobs Beauty will offer 100-plus products including, of course, nail polish galore. The nail polishes, called Enamored Hi-Shine Lacquer, will be sold for $18 each and housed in unique, oblong glass bottles. Jezebel, a ruby red, was worn by models at Jacobs' Fall 2013 runway presentation, and others, such as Oui!, a deep magenta, and Gatsby, a Metallic taupe, have already created buzz amongst fashionistas.
But if the genius of Jacobs doesn't impress you, there is always Bootie Babe, a line of lacquers housed in derriere-shaped bottles (above) and offered in 33 hues — think Buns of Steel (gray) and Killer Keister (coppery red). The cheeky collection is sold online at bootiebabe.com for $8 per bottle. The lacquers have a serious side, too — they are all certified cruelty-free and 3-free.
And, on the off-chance that any of these polishes don't please you, you can always turn to Ciate nail polish remover. Available in a variety of "flavors" — think Mint Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, and White Chocolate — these nourishing nail polish removers quickly eradicate any polish mistakes, leaving you prepped for the next big manicure craze, no matter how far off the beaten path we go to discover it.
— Carolyn Brundage is the founder of TampaBay.PrettyCity.com, a guide to the best in local beauty. Need beauty advice? Tweet up with Carolyn at @tampabaypretty.