Curious about kids' nail polish? Our review ranks this year's top 10 nail polishes for kids. To determine the best, we've researched the market before selecting the most popular and promising for hands-on testing (literally). Many nail polishes for kids feature fun and quirky colors, and they claim to have more harsh, chemical-free formulas, which may also appeal to pregnant women or anyone looking to reduce the number of harmful chemicals in the home. Therefore, while testing the nail polishes ourselves, we evaluated each brand based on important metrics like health, color quality, and ease of application. We are confident our lineup includes the perfect option that meets your needs and budget.
The Klee Kids Peelable Polish is one of our favorite color sets for kids. The water-based formula is nearly odor-free but is slightly reminiscent of kids' acrylic paints. We are most impressed by the staying power of this peelable polish. While most water-based products start to chip and peel after just a day, the Klee Kids last much longer. The formula dries in a reasonable time, although still not as fast as nitrocellulose polishes.
Although it is advertised as a peel-off product, it was more difficult to remove than most other products tested. While some may appreciate this for its longevity, it may be annoying when you are left scratching off tiny polish pieces for days after applying. It is also worth noting that these colors are not the most highly pigmented of the group. We found the purple to be the most opaque after one coat, but other colors, such as light blue, and pale pink, definitely require two coats if you want even results.
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 impresses us with how long they stay on, outlasting most of the competition. We tested the neon-themed set, but Karma Organic has various colors.
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.
The Airdom Polish Set offers a selection of 5 colors and includes a dual purposed base and top coat that increases durability. The water-based formula has almost no detectable smells, and there is a complete list of ingredients on the package to check to see what is in the product. Opacity depends on which color you choose, but overall, the Airdom colors have an intense hue that only needs one coat. One of our favorite parts about this polish is its easy removal. You do not need to use harsh removers, soak fingers, or diligently chip away. The polish peels off cleanly in one or two pieces every time.
As is the case with many water-based polishes, the colors in the Airdom set can take a long time to dry, testing the patience of young kids and toddlers. Also, the easy peel-off removal means that the paint is not as durable and begins to chip and peel faster than many other options. Despite having a consistent application in general, some of the lighter colors are very streaky when first applied, and they may require two coats. However, most of the colors do not have this problem. While slightly less durable than other options, it earned high marks in every metric. If you are looking for an affordable set of nail polishes for your child, the Airdom Polish Set is one we highly recommend.
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 pre-cut sizes, the nail wraps may not match all nail sizes exactly. Cutting them down to size can be a time-consuming task. We are also concerned that we cannot find any information on these stickers' ingredients. There is no disclosure on 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
We dove deep into the nail polish production world and prevalent ingredients for this review. Each kids' nail polish was purchased and used on multiple testers to evaluate durability and color quality before ranking our overall favorites. Kids offered their input on which products they liked and would use again. Parents offered impressions on which seemed the easiest to use. These reflections influenced our overall ranks and scores.
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.
Analysis and Test Results
With lots of kids' nail polish options on the market, it can be challenging to know which option is best for your child. We've hands-on tested each polish in our lineup, including countless applications on nails from children to adults, evaluating qualities we consider essential, such as durability and color quality.
Assessing the value of nail polish somewhat depends on what you are looking for. If you want durability and quality with ease of application, 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 matters most to you because your budget is tight, a less expensive option, like the Airdom Polish Set, could fit your needs. This inexpensive contender has one of the lowest prices per bottle out of all the tested options and performs 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.
The Lesser of Two Evils?
Many polishes geared towards children claim to have fewer potentially concerning ingredients. However, there is no such thing as "all-natural" nail polish. So while certain kids' nail polish brands 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 term 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 Klee Kids Peelable Polish are our favorites for this metric. They each have one of the shortest ingredient lists that give us pause. ella+mila Mommy & Me Set polishes are the most like a traditional lacquer. But they still claim to be a whopping 17-free. However, they are the lowest scoring for this metric.
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 eliminated 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.
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 considered poisonous in large doses, causing seizures and disorientation. In nail polish, it acts as a cover for your nails, and some feel that it deprives them of nutrients, causing dryness and yellow staining.
Triphenyl Phosphate (TPHP): A chemical found in many plastics that improves 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. If ingested or inhaled, it may irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. Too much of it may affect your nervous system, possibly causing headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, tremor, nausea, vomiting, and other ailments.
Many of these chemicals give off strong odors and may be toxic to humans via inhalation. Combined, they create that very familiar nail polish scent. So, generally, we assume 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 your child's age, sitting still can be challenging. 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 longer to cut the correct size and shape for smaller nails. We find the tiny brush and bottle of the Miss Nella polish fits more precisely on tiny fingernails.
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. Although a bummer, it seems to be a necessary compromise for now.
In our review, the most water-based polishes, like SuncoatGirl and Piggy Paint have sheer color and somewhat uneven application. Two to three coats are needed to get consistent coverage on the nails. Klee Kids' colors seem to last the longest on our fingernails compared to other water-based options in our selection.
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 in the group. Comdoit Nail Wraps surprised us with their durability. The pliable plastic material holds tightly to your nail beds until you choose to remove them. The least durable in the group is the Townley Girl Minnie Mouse, as the peel-off removal system began on its own just hours after we first applied it.
Flashy nails are fun for kids and parents alike, and doing at-home manicures and pedicures can be a great shared activity. At BabyGearLab, we prefer to err on the side of caution to limit the number of chemicals children encounter, and nail polish is no different. Especially since smaller users are putting their fingers in their mouths or chewing on polish. 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.