Best Nail Polish for Kids
$19.99 at Amazon
$8.01 at Amazon
$13.99 at Amazon
$16.00 at Amazon
$11.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Good quality color, doesn't chip easily, good color selection||Water-based formula, many color options, low odor||Peel off removal, kid-sized bottles, water-based formula||High-quality color, smooth application, fast dry time||Spill-free, fun designs, no dry time|
|Cons||Chemical smell, thick formula||Requires 2+ coats, slow dry time||Gooey formula, slow dry time||Nitrocellulose based, chemical smell||Must cut to size, time consuming to apply|
|Bottom Line||Our favorite polish for kids offering a long-lasting finish with fewer toxins||An affordable polish with a water-based formula that uses simple ingredients and has almost no odor||Multi-pack option that delivers lots of color choices in a fun set with easy peel-off removal||A polish that offers a high-quality finish but uses healthier ingredients than most adult polish products||Affordable stick on manicure that has good durability|
|Rating Categories||Karma Kids Box Set||Piggy Paint||SuncoatGirl||ella+mila Mommy & M...||Comdoit Nail Wraps|
|Ease Of Application (20%)|
|Quality Durability (35%)|
|Specs||Karma Kids Box Set||Piggy Paint||SuncoatGirl||ella+mila Mommy & M...||Comdoit Nail Wraps|
|Formula Base||Nitrocellulose||Water||Water||Nitrocellulose||Not Listed|
|Full Disclosure of Ingredients||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Removal Method||Non-acetone polish remover||Remove with rubbing alcohol||Soak in water and peel off||Non-acetone polish remover||Peel off|
|Included Accessories||None||None||Decals and Nail File||Decals||Nail File|
Best Overall Nail Polish for Kids
Karma Kids Box Set
The Karma Kids Box Set features four hues of organic nail polish from the Karma Organic company. The polish is "7 free," - meaning they are free of 7 concerning chemicals historically found in traditional polishes. Karma Organic promotes them as suitable for pregnant women, cancer patients, children, and anyone else who would like to limit the number of harsh chemicals they encounter. When applying, the polish offered good coverage after just one coat. However, to get a completely opaque color, Karma recommends using two. In terms of durability, the selection of colors in the Karma Kids box set impresses us with how long they stay on, outlasting most of the competition. We tested the neon-themed set, but Karma Organic has a wide variety of colors to choose from.
Despite being 7-free, the nitrocellulose-based formula gives off a strong odor when the bottle is open, indicating that some harsh chemicals may still be present. We also found that the liquid is thick straight out of the bottle and does not apply as smoothly as others. However, if you are looking for a nail polish that may reduce the number of chemicals in your home while still offering bright, durable, and highly pigmented shades, then Karma Kids Box set is a great choice.
Best Budget Water-based Polish
The Piggy Paint is a kid-oriented nail polish made with a water-based formula. Their slogan "As natural as mud" is printed on every bottle. Compared to other kids' nail polishes we looked at, Piggy Paint has one of the shortest lists of ingredients and skips many of the harshest chemicals typically found in nail polish. We appreciate that there is only a mild odor. It is not abrasive and smells somewhat like the non-toxic acrylic paints many parents buy for kids' art projects. Piggy Paint offers a wide variety of color choices for children and adults alike.
Unfortunately, the absence of the binding chemicals typically used in nail polishes causes a lack of durability and color opacity in this brand. During testing, this polish was usually the first to wear off. We used the color "Mint to Be" and found that at least 2-3 coats are necessary to achieve an even finish. An extra-long dry time for each layer exacerbates an already time-consuming process. Piggy Paint recommends blow-drying nails for 1-2 minutes on a low/warm setting to speed the process if the wait time is unbearable. Using a hairdryer also helps to reduce chipping. Piggy Paint polishes are probably your best option if you want to have a fun spa day with your child but would like to avoid excess chemicals as much as possible.
Best for a High-Quality Manicure
ella+mila Mommy & Me Set
The ella+mila Mommy and Me Set will fit right in with your mother-daughter spa day. Their high-quality nail lacquer comes in a set of two color options, one in a large bottle for mom and one tot-sized bottle for your child. With the smoothest application of all the polishes we tested, ella+mila colors hold their own against traditional nail polishes, boasting a fast dry time and smooth consistency. The formula allows for clean lines when applying, and the colors can last over a week in our experience. The polish offers a reasonable opacity level with just a single coat; however, a second coat makes it look that much better. For a little extra pizazz on your fingers, the set comes with cute flower decals.
ella+mila polishes use a chemical-based formula and claim to be 7-free while providing impressive results. However, it inevitably has more potentially concerning ingredients than water-based products, and there is a strong chemical odor when the bottle is open. Like many traditional polishes, you must use a chemical remover to take off the lacquer. However, suppose a smooth application and long-lasting durability are your top priorities. In that case, ella+mila polishes make a substantial effort to be more health-friendly and are on par with traditional leading polish brands in terms of quality. We recommend this option to anyone looking for fewer chemicals in their nail polish routine.
Easiest and Cleanest Application
Comdoit Nail Wraps
The Comdoit Nail Wraps offer pre-cut designs with a stick-on application. We think this is an excellent alternative for younger children who are less patient because there is no dry time! There is no risk of spilling the bottle or accidental paint transfer from fingernails onto other surfaces. Applying the stickers is a fast and straightforward process that makes very little mess. We are also very impressed by the durability offered by this set. In our experience, the nail stickers can last over a week without peeling. When correctly sized to your nail, they genuinely look like nail polish. The 8-pack of nail stickers offered by Comdoit wraps is also one of the most affordable options we found.
Because they are precut sizes, the nail wraps may not match all nail sizes exactly. To cut them down to size can be a time-consuming task. We are also a bit concerned that we cannot find any information on these stickers' ingredients. There is no disclosure on how the manufacturing process, nor what is in the adhesive. If this worries you, then Comdoit Nail Wraps may not be the best option. However, we think this is a great way to get intricate manicure designs in a mess-free package with no dry time.
Why You Should Trust Us
BabyGearLab has been using and evaluating a wide range of baby products for more than eight years, and our team has many more years of combined experience in parenthood and childcare. Leading our kids' nail polish review is Senior Review Editor, Abriah Wofford. Perfecting her nail-painting skills since she was a kid herself, Abriah has painted the piggies of countless children over the years.
For this review, we dove deep into the world of polish production and common ingredients. Each kids' nail polish was purchased and used on multiple testers to evaluate durability and color quality before ranking our overall favorites.
Analysis and Test Results
With multiple kids' nail polish options on the market, it's hard to know which option is best for you. The good news is our review ranks the top contenders of 2021. We've hands-on tested each polish in our lineup, including countless applications on nails from children to adults, evaluating qualities we consider important, such as durability and color quality.
Assessing value for nail polish somewhat depends on what you are looking for. If you want durability and quality with ease of application, then you may need to spend a little more to get a little more. The Karma Kids Box Set is easy to apply and lasts the longest in the group, perhaps leading to less need to reapply and the bottle lasting longer than the competition. So despite having one of the highest prices in the group, it does hold value given its superior performance and use over time. Alternatively, if out-of-pocket expense from the get-go is what matters to you most because your budget is tight, then the less expensive Piggy Paint may be more your speed. This inexpensive paint performed well in our health metric, but it isn't as durable and may need touch-ups or re-application sooner than the more expensive options.
Many polishes geared towards children claim to have fewer potentially concerning ingredients. However, there is currently no such thing as "all-natural" nail polish. So while certain brands of kids' nail polish may be better than others, there is no guarantee that you can avoid potentially harmful chemicals without giving up colored nails altogether.
All the products we included in our review are "7-free." This is a manufacturer's standard that strives to be less toxic and potentially more suitable for use with children. However, some manufacturers prioritize health more than others.
Water-based formulas such as Piggy Paint or SuncoatGirl are our favorites for this metric, with scores of 9 and 8, respectively. They each have one of the shortest lists of ingredients that give us pause. ella+mila polishes are the most like a traditional lacquer. However, they still claim to be a whopping 17-free. The lowest-scoring for this metric is the ella+mila Mommy & Me Set with a score of 3.
What is 7-Free?
Many traditional nail polishes have an array of potentially unhealthy ingredients that may have long-term effects. A few polish companies have worked to eliminate the worst of these chemicals from their formulas and claim a "7-free" composition. Others go above and beyond, attempting to eliminate even more chemicals from their formulation. While there is no such thing as "natural" nail polish, we prefer to use colors free of at least the seven concerning ingredients listed below.
- Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP): a chemical frequently used to make plastics more flexible. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency DBP could potentially cause adverse effects on reproduction and developmental growth.
- Toluene: a solvent used in paint thinner. It is considered potentially toxic through inhalation and may be harmful to the nervous system.
- Formaldehyde: most commonly used to preserve and embalm organisms. The vapors from this chemical may be highly irritating, and it is a known carcinogen.
- Formaldehyde Resin: a derivative of formaldehyde commonly found in coatings and adhesives. While not considered as toxic as formaldehyde in its pure form, it may still be an allergen.
- Camphor: A chemical that is considered poisonous in large doses, causing seizures and disorientation. In nail polish, it acts as a cover for your nails, and some feel that deprives them of nutrients, causing dryness and yellow staining.
- Triphenyl Phosphate (TPHP): a chemical found in many plastics that improve flexibility and acts as a flame retardant. It is a possible endocrine disrupter that may affect your hormones.
- Xylene: a solvent used to thin paint. It may be irritating to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract if ingested or inhaled. Too much of it may affect your nervous system, possibly causing headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, tremor, nausea, vomiting, a host of other ailments.
Many of these chemicals give off strong odors and may be potentially toxic to humans via inhalation. Combined, they create that very familiar nail polish scent. So, generally, we take the position that the less you can smell your nail polish, the better. In general, our view is that the fewer concerning chemicals in a nail polish formulation, the better, especially when it comes to kids' nail polish formulations.
Ease of Application and Removal
Depending on how old your child is, sitting still can be a daunting task. Younger children will greatly appreciate a fast and fuss-free application. Brush sizes are relatively standard across all polishes but dry time and the number of coats needed vary.
We found that ella+mila has the fastest dry time and the most consistent application on the first try, eliminating the need for two layers. Karma Kids has an average dry time but only needs one coat. Using SuncoatGirl colors may test a toddler's patience with sheer coverage and slow dry time.
Stick-on nails like the Comdoit Nail Wraps offer a nearly mess-free application but may take a bit longer to cut the correct size and shape for smaller nails.
There is a reason manufacturers began to use such strong chemicals: they create a better-looking, longer-lasting polish. We found that the more "natural" a polish claims to be, the more sheer and less consistent the color turns out. This fact is a bummer, but it seems to be a necessary compromise for now.
In our review, the two water-based polishes, SuncoatGirl and Piggy Pain, both have very sheer color and somewhat uneven application. Two to three coats are needed to get consistent coverage on the nails. Of the two, SuncoatGirl colors seem to last the longest on our fingernails.
The bright neon colors in the Karma Kids Box Set are a top-hit with our kid testers. The highly pigmented formula is also one of the longest-lasting lacquers of the group. Comdoit Nail Wraps surprised us with their durability. The pliable plastic material holds tightly to your nail beds until you chose to remove them. The least durable in the group is the Townley Girl Minnie Mouse with a score of 3, as the peel-off removal system began on its own hours after we first applied it.
Flashy nails are fun for kids and parents alike, and doing at-home manicures can be a great shared activity. At BabyGearLab, we prefer to err on the side of caution to limit the amount of chemicals children encounter, and nail polish is no different. Some kids' nail polishes are better than others, and we examined each formula's performance and ingredients to help you make an informed decision. If nail polish is what you're after, there may be an option in our lineup that works for you.
— Abriah Wofford
Honest, objective reviews. Led by a Pediatrician.
BabyGearLab was founded by a Pediatrician Mom with a mission to provide a reliable, independent, source of information to new parents. Our experts have tested thousands of baby and kids products to share key performance, health, and safety findings. We spend tens of thousands of dollars crash testing car seats to inform our ratings. And, we combine our review work with gobs of expert parenting advice. To assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing by people who care.Learn More