The rapid growth of indie nail polish lines over recent years is a true blessing—especially for us who believe one can never have too many mani-pedi colors. Thanks to instant exposure on sites like Etsy, Instagram, and yours truly, brands like Cult Nails and Frankenstain Nails, some small operations run with the help of professional manufacturers, some single-person operations, are able to get in front of the eyes (and on the nails) of millions of polish enthusiasts. And in addition to offering unique shades you won’t find usually find on drugstore shelves, what’s also great about a lot of smaller-run brands is that many offer formulations that are more healthy and eco-friendly, like 3-free (made without dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde) or 5-free (which add formaldehyde resin, and camphor to the 3-free list). Here, we share some of our current favorite indies sure to make you and your fingertips very happy.
Cult Nails was started by Florida nail blogger Maria Morrison, who started mixing her own colors when she got bored with the polishes coming out on the market. In addition to stocking a huge assortment of amazing shades, the line is 5-free, vegan, and never tested on animals. Don’t miss Cult’s limited-edition colors, like the seductive-looking Disillusion.
The Australia-based Emily De Molly makes beautiful holographic shades in seriously eye-catching colors like deep sea green and electric blue. The site doesn’t deliver everywhere (United States included), but luckily there are a couple of stockists that do ship worldwide—so we can all get our hands on these lacquers.
Love personalized products? Pretty Please is for you: visit the site and you can choose a polish color, and then name it anything your heart desires (within the 25 characters). The company than prints a custom label and ships it to you! If you’ve ever fantasized about owning a pretty blue nail color called “John Stamos’s Eyes” (I know I have), now you can. It’s a great gift idea, or even just fun if you’ve always wanted to make like an OPI polish-namer.
Floss Gloss, started by Aretha Sack and Janine Lee, sell shades with subversively playful names like PartyBruise, Neon Nacho, and Blood, Suede, and Tears, but every bottle comes with a gorgeous gold-rimmed cap, which is a welcome change from the usual black or white ones. Floss Gloss’s new spring and summer 2014 collection has a truly dazzling gold glitter named Honey, inspired by, yes that’s right, the one and only Mariah Carey.
If you’re a sucker for novelty-shaped products, check out StrangeBeautiful’s collection called Dose, which features mini polishes in capsule-shaped bottles, all packaged up in a cute chem-lab-esque container. One of our fave sets is Due Diligence, which combines minimalist neutrals with a pop of bright cherry-red. Jane Schub, the line’s founder, is a true art aficionado who spends time carefully curating her color libraries.
East coast–based polish brand Rainbow Honey is inspired by children’s cartoons and video games. This isn’t too surprising, since the limited-edition pastel shades come bearing names like All My Stars and Candy Mountain—and remind me of the unicorn bedsheets that I had as a kid.
Frankenstain Nails is true indie in the sense that it only sells its polishes through Etsy—and the shop is stocked with colors I haven’t seen anywhere else. See especially the one-of-a-kind glitter color-combos like Peacock Pizzazz and American Witch.