The Best Nail Products To Level Up Your At-Home Manicures

From classic red polish to realistic press-ons.

by TZR Beauty Team
Getty Images, Stocksy/TZR
TZR Beauty Groundbreakers Awards 2024
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

We’re all for a relaxing trip to the salon, but there’s arguably never been a better time to upgrade your manicure toolkit and sharpen your DIY nail art skills. From press-ons that look nearly identical to real tips to top coats that prevent premature chips, these groundbreaking nail products with their perfectly opaque pigments, easy-to-maneuver brushes, and long-lasting formulas will color you obsessed. Bonus: You’ll probably end up saving time and money by cutting out some of those professional mani-pedi appointments.

While neutral vibes like milk bath and glazed doughnut manicures dominated 2023, this year’s nail trends have introduced a refreshing, livelier change — soft pastels that scream spring, butterfly motifs your inner ‘90s and early aughts younger self will adore, and approachable yet artistic designs (think squiggles and mini hearts). And after lots of testing, we can confirm the below nail products will help you ace (or, um, nail) them all.

Best Base Coat

Whether it’s due to frequent hand washing, drying hand sanitizer, or just the chilly crisp air, the winter season can do a number on your digits. Treat weak, brittle nails to some TLC with this clear polish, which is basically a suit of shiny armor. Two coats help nails appear healthier after three days and strengthen them over time so they’re less likely to chip.

Best Clean Nail Polish

Raise your hand (or both hands, rather) if your gel manicure habit has taken a toll on your nails. The good news is that you can still get that extra-glossy, long-lasting look at home with less damage to your nails. Offered in 85 shades, this $20 polish glides on evenly to create a super shiny, opaque look without the use of a UV lamp, bonders, or special top or base coats. “I’m impressed at the longevity of this super-pigmented nail polish from Deborah Lippmann — even after three weeks, it still looks good as new,” says BDG staffer Abby Lebet. “Plus, the deep eggplant color is surprisingly versatile.”

Best Bold/Bright Nail Polish

For a fun departure from your go-to milky mani, reach for one of these vivid neon polishes. The set of four includes an electric pink, highlighter green, and bright orange shade, plus a neutral beige that can be used as an accent nail or the base for colorful French tips. “The colors apply streak-free, and the flat brush helps you paint really close to the cuticles,” says our guest judge, celebrity and editorial nail artist Steph Stone. “The pigments are incredibly vibrant and super shiny even before a top coat.”

Best Cuticle Oil

The key to actually remembering to prioritize cuticle care? An easy-to-apply, travel-friendly format like this skinny pen from Chillhouse. Not an actual oil but a serum, it’s designed to soften and hydrate your cuticles and nourish your nail bed with a blend of botanical oils like jojoba seed and apricot, as well as vitamin E and aloe. When testing, BDG staffers found that it distributed just the right amount of serum, so it didn’t leave your cuticles overly greasy or sopping wet, and it delivered immediate and noticeable hydration.

Best Long-Lasting, Chip-Proof Nail Polish

Waiting for your nails to dry takes a million years. OK, it obviously doesn’t really take that long, but it certainly feels like it. That’s why quick-dry nail polish is so appealing. A solid formula cuts down the waiting game and helps prevent the paint smudges that occur when you inevitably begin using your hands too quickly. This buy from Olive & June dries in one minute, promises five days of chip-free wear, and is available in a ton of colors, from Prom, your classic hot pink, to Elevator, a milky gray. “This dries amazingly fast, the brush size is helpfully wide, and I really enjoy the colors,” says BDG staffer Brianna Kovan.

Best Neutral Nail Polish

Gitti’s Nail Glaze is the secret to creating the minimalist mani of your dreams. The gorgeous milky shade imparts an ever-so-slight iridescent finish. One coat delivers a sheer glaze, while three coats create a more opaque, glossy color. The formula’s ingredients are 82% naturally derived, and the sleek, minimalist bottle is made from 20% post-industrial recycled glass. “Whenever I hear ‘plant-based nail polish,’ I immediately get concerned that the pursuit of being ‘green’ will compromise the quality of the product,” says Stone, guest judge and celebrity and editorial nail artist. “This brand totally proved me wrong.”

Best Press-On Nails

These unique faux tips are made from 50% cured gel polish and are fashioned into flat and soft nail strips. After you fit the strips on your nails, you finish off the cure under a UV lamp (which is sold separately), trim, file, apply a top coat, and then cure one more time. They may be a little more labor intensive than other press-on nails, but you’re getting a perfectly designed press-on gel mani out of the process. According to our testers, once the strips are cured, they feel as hard as real nails. The kit includes 28 gel nail strips, two prep pads, a nail file, and a wooden stick. The gel strips are available in a ton of designs, but we were partial to these swirly, watercolor-esque options.

Best Red Nail Polish

A classic red belongs in every polish collection. It’s the mani and pedi color that stands the test of time. Dior’s 999 Rouge is a luxurious fire-engine red that will look stunning on any nail shape and against every skin tone. “This is one of those products where you can absolutely tell that spending a few extra dollars makes a huge difference,” says BDG staffer Sarah Aswell. “I love the application brush, the bottle design, and the really beautiful bright color — it went on like a dream.”

Best Top Coat

If you want your manicure to have a long lifespan, you should apply a top coat. It’s what’s responsible for sealing your polish, extending its wear, and preventing chips. Of course, it’s also the secret to a super glossy, light-reflecting look. This one delivers a gel-like finish without the need of a UV light and is strong enough to secure nail stickers and charms. Our testers confirm it dries quickly and delivers a long-lasting shine.