Tender neat manicure on female hands on green leaves background. Nail design

9 Best Breathable Nail Polishes (and What That Even Means)

Give your manicure new life with some fresh air.
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When was the last time you had a professional manicure? Regardless of the type of manicure you had, chances are you probably didn't think to request breathable polish. 

So what is breathable nail polish and how does it differ from traditional nail polish? "Traditional nail polish is formulated to create a shield that prevents hydration from passing through. That means a base coat and topcoat are necessary to ensure long wear," says Brittney Boyce, celebrity nail artist and founder of NAILS OF LA

On the other hand, breathable nail polish is the exact opposite, as it attracts oxygen and moisture. "Think of it like contact lenses. Breathable nail polish is polish that allows for oxygen and moisture permeability, meaning oxygen and moisture can pass through the polish both ways," Boyce says. 

Why does oxygen and moisture permeability matter? For a long time, it was believed to improve the health of your nails; however, that's not necessarily the case. 

"Nails are dead and don't need breathing (they don't have lungs)," says Michelle Saunders, celebrity manicurist and Nailtopia brand ambassador. However, the breathable polish is actually responsible for maintaining the integrity of the polish so it can last longer on your hands. "The two-way permeability allows for additional hydration and moisture while preventing water logging, which is what happens when water is trapped in the nail bed, causing it to expand and create pressure that causes tiny cracks in traditional nail polish. In other words, it helps elongate wear time and reduce chipping," she says.

If you're looking to give your mani some fresh air, here are nine gorgeous shades that you need to try. 

Related Items

breathable-nail-polish-Orly Solemnly Swear Breathable Bundle

1 Orly "Solemnly Swear" Breathable Bundle

$15, orlybeauty.com

Orly has an entire line dedicated to breathable nail polish. Available in special limited-edition bundles from nudes to holiday colors, the brand's one-step formula glides on and offers an opaque finish. Plus it's 13-free, vegan, and formulated with hydrating and antioxidant ingredients like argan oil and vitamin C.

Boyce is a huge fan of Orly's breathable polishes because of their long-lasting abilities. "ORLY's Breathable line is my go-to for breathable polishes. It offers a huge selection of colors and finishes that are trend-forward and they really do last long—even with constant handwashing," she says. 


2 Nailtopia Plant-Based Nail Polish

$10, amazon.com

Nailtopia offers a one-of-a-kind breathable and plant-based formula infused with real fruits and vegetables that provide vitamins (A, B5, and calcium) essential for healthy nail growth. If you're not a fan of the hot pink, don't worry: Nailtopia has over 70 different colors to choose from.

breathable-nail-polish-Zoya Began Nail Polish

3 Zoya Vegan Nail Polish

$9, walmart.com

If you've visited a nail salon recently, then you've probably seen Zoya on the shelf. Free from the "Big 10" (polishes do not contain dibutyl phthalate, TPHP, toluene, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, parabens, and tert-butyl hydroperoxide), Zoya's vegan polish provides long-lasting color and is available in a variety of colors and finishes. 

breathable-nail-polish-Cote No 1 Nail Polish

4 Côte No. 1 Nail Polish

$18, coteshop.co

Made in the United States, Côte is free from harsh chemicals found in regular nail polish. This light coral pink color complements any skin tone and can easily be applied with its fine brush for an even, streak-free coat. With over 100 colors to choose from, you're bound to find a color that best suits your personality.

breathable-nail-polish-Mersi Halal Nail Polish

5 Mersi Halal Nail Polish

$13, amazon.com

Many Muslim people can't wear nail polish because it interferes with religious practices. Mersì was specifically designed to provide an alternative—this polish brand is completely vegan, halal, cruelty-free, and eco friendly. Plus, it's wide-angled brush makes it easy to apply to nails of all shapes and sizes.

breathable-nail-polish-nailberry loxygene breathable nail polish

6 Nailberry L'oxygéné Breathable Nail Polish

$20, nailberry.co

This UK based brand is also known for its halal, breathable nail polishes. Free from the popular 12 toxic ingredients commonly found in polish, Nailberry uses its patented formula to provide a healthy manicure. 

breathable-nail-polish-Inglot 02M Breathable Nail Enamel

7 Inglot 02M Breathable Nail Enamel 

19, amazon.com

This water- and air-permeable nail polish leaves your nails with a rich matte finish. You can't go wrong with any of the 11 offerings, but we love this light pink polish for a universal nude shade

breathable-nail-polish-Entity Clean Breathable Nail Lacquer

8 Entity Clean Breathable Nail Lacquer

$7, entityclean.com

This fast-drying and breathable creamy red nail polish provides the ultimate color payoff and a shiny créme finish. Formulated with biotin, it works to strengthen nails over the duration of your manicure.

breathable-nail-polish-Nails Inc. Weekday Wellness Nail Polish

9 Nails Inc. Weekday Wellness Nail Polish

$11, sallybeauty.com

This vegan nail polish is part of Nails Inc.'s breathable Plant Power collection. 21-free and cruelty-free, the formula is designed to last with a vibrant color payoff similar to its traditional polish counterparts.