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Best of 2013 – Top 30 Nail Polishes of the Year

Best Nail Polishes of 2013

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It’s been a pretty stellar year for nail polish. In 2013, we’ve seen new technologies, new finishes and tons of new colors. So you can imagine what a task it’s been trying to narrow down my favorites.

The new textured polishes really helped invigorate my passion for polish. Unlike other fad-type finishes of the past few years (crackle, matte, magnetic, etc), I’m so not tired of texture and I don’t see my love waning anytime soon.

After an unexpectedly long break from ALU, I came back this year with a vengeance and I’ve been loving every second of it. A huge part of that is you. Your comments, emails, tweets, etc. mean so much and encourage me to share my love of nail color. So without further ado, I give you my Top 30 Nail Polish Colors of 2013.


It takes a lot for a creme to grab my attention and obviously I have my color preferences but all four of these shades are visually arresting, incredibly smooth, easy to apply and non-staining (so key for a blue!). That last part is especially impressive when it comes to CND VINYLUX Seaside Party since you wear it with no base coat.

Bobbi Brown Navy nail polish swatch

Bobbi Brown Navy

China Glaze Queen B nail polish

China Glaze Queen B


JINsoon Blue Iris

CND VINYLUX Seaside Party nail polish swatch

CND VINYLUX Seaside Party


Whether it was that subtle Chanel shimmer we all know and love, the icy flecks that Essie wowed us with or the shade shifting pigments of JINsoon, OPI and Urban Decay, these shimmery shades were all the rage in 2013. Taboo is seriously one of the best shades Chanel has ever created and WORTH.EVERY.PENNY! Whether it’s Essie For the Twill of It or OPI Peace, Love and OPI, that duo-chrome shade is a must-have. And even though it feels like forever and a day since China Glaze Fancy Pants came out, it still a stands out in my mind all these months later.

Chanel Taboo Nail Polish Swatch

Chanel Taboo


China Glaze Fancy Pants


China Glaze Mimosas Before Mani’s

Essie For The Twill Of It nail polish

Essie For The Twill Of It

OPI Peace Love OPI nail polish swatch

OPI Peace & Love & OPI

Essie Naughty Nautical nail polish swatch

Essie Naughty Nautical

Essie Sunday Funday nail polish swatch

Essie Sunday Funday

JINsoon Epidote nail polish swatch

JINsoon Epidote

Sally Hansen Red-io Active Insta-Dri

Sally Hansen Red-io Active

Sally Hansen Quick Jeanius Insta-Dri

Sally Hansen Quick Jeanius

Sally Hansen Jet Set Jade Insta-Dri

Sally Hansen Jet Set Jade

Urban Decay Blackheart nail polish from Holiday 2013

Urban Decay Blackheart

Zoya Mason nail polish swatch

Zoya Mason


Glitters kind of took a backseat this year to make room for the texture parade but the ones we did see, rocked the house. From the unexpected holo glitter by Bobbi Brown to the funky Maybelline Polka Dots to the pink Deborah Lippmann that captured this girl’s pink-hating heart, we weren’t lacking when it came to making a sparkle party happen.

Bobbi Brown Chrome nail polish from Holiday 2013

Bobbi Brown Chrome

COVERGIRL Inferno nail polish from the Capitol Collection for Catching Fire


Deborah Lippmann Mermaid's Kiss nail polish swatch

Deborah Lippmann Mermaid’s Kiss

JINsoon Obsidian nail polish swatch

JINsoon Obsidian

Laura Mercier Bewitched nail polish

Laura Mercier Bewitched

MAC Fierce Entrance nail polish from Divine Night

MAC Fierce Entrance

Maybelline Color Show Blue Marks The Spot Polka Dots glitter nail polish

Maybelline Blue Marks The Spot

Urban Decay Zodiac

Urban Decay Zodiac


Textured nail polish was the big trend of 2013 and even though there were a few variations on the theme, the sparkly textures were definitely my faves. Zoya is the clear winner of the glittery texture smackdown as every single PixieDust is a stunner. However, L’Oreal’s Gold Dust collection is a close second. I can’t get enough of The Statement Piece! Simply for its layering capabilities, Sally Hansen Sugar Coat Royal Icing  had to make my list and OPI Alcatraz Rocks is, hands-down, my favorite texture of the year!

L'Oreal The Statement Piece Gold Dust texture

L’Oreal The Statement Piece

OPI Alcatraz Rocks Liquid Sand nail polish swatch

OPI Alcatraz Rocks

Sally Hansen Royal Icing Sugar Coat over Pink a Card nail polish

Sally Hansen Royal Icing over CSM Pink a Card

Zoya Chita PixieDust nail polish

Zoya Chita PixieDust


Zoya Nyx PixieDust

Zoya Sunshine PixieDust nail polish

Zoya Sunshine PixieDust

Honorable Mention

I would be a fool not to mention the collection I created for Sally Beauty’s FingerPaints line as it’s one of the things that made my 2013. I’m so proud of A Pair Affair by All Lacquered Up and I truly love every single shade. Seeing my creations and blog name on displays in a store I’ve been shopping at all my life was unreal.

FingerPaints A Pair Affair by All Lacquered Up nail polish collection

FingerPaints A Pair Affair by All Lacquered Up

So which of my selections would make your “Best of 2013″ list? Is there a favorite of yours that you think I overlooked?  

I will start the nominations for the Fanatic Favorites of 2013, where you get to vote on your favorite colors and collections from the past year, soon so start thinking of which brands and colors you want to nominate!

Disclosure: Product samples were provided by reps for the brands featured. Affiliate links appear in this post. When you purchase through an affiliate link, you help support this site. For more info view my Disclosure Policy
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There Are 28 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Brittnee says:

    I love this post! I think creme polishes are always my favorites – I love that shade you chose Queen B by China Glaze!


  2. sabbatha says:

    I loved sands this year, in Europe we have Golden Rose brand that released amazing amount of great glittery sands (check them in google) – they are freakintastic <3

    • Michelle Mismas says:

      Oh, I’ve heard of that brand before and I think there’s even a place in the US that carries it but I’ve never seen them in person. I’ll have to check them out, thanks!

      • sabbatha says:

        As i wrote in my latest blogpost Golden Rose ruled this year in my country (im from Poland)- seriously check google or even my blog – they released EVERYTHING this year and it’s an inexpensive drugstore brand with almost all finishes you want. The only finish they don’t sell is glassfleck finish, they released only few glassflecked shades. Ok, they also don’t have amazing holos (holo collection from GR is super old) – but still it’s really great brand!

  3. Lorraine says:

    I have to agree on OPI Alcatraz Rocks and Bobbi Brown Chrome. It takes a lot to take my breath away, but those 2 both made me gasp at first stroke! The Chanels that made me swoon this year were Bel Argus and Azure – these will go down in my all time favorite list, for sure. Great year for polish, 2013.

  4. rachlovespenguins says:

    All of the dust/sand/sugar polish makes my list this year! I haven’t been so taken with a texture or finish in ages.

  5. SophiaAlinat | creme depilatoire says:

    I loved sands this year

  6. Liz Ruenzel says:

    My #1 polish is Bare No Secrets from your collection A Pair Affair. Definitely my go polish! Next is a Holographic from Color Club, Angel Kiss. I also loved Orly FX Pixels. Lastly I have enjoyed experimenting with Matte polish.

  7. Nikki says:

    Love the Taboo, Fancy Pants and Bewitched. Best brand of the year however is I LOVE NAIL POLISH with its amazing chromes.

  8. Jennifer says:

    Taboo is AMAZING. I’ve never spent $30 on a nail polish before, but if there was ever a color that justified the price tag, this is it. Like you said, worth every penny! Love your website, happy new year!

  9. Dez says:

    Love the sand and sugar textuxes this year. The OPI “What Wizardry is This” was the hands down fave for me.

  10. Britni says:

    So many beautiful and unique colors, great picks! I may have to buy Mermaid’s Kiss after seeing this post ;)

  11. Beautiful choices! I see quite a few of my favorites in this list! :)

  12. Juli says:

    What s great post! I only have three from your Top 30 (Chanel’s Taboo, Essie”s For The Twill of It, an SH’s Jet Set Jade), but after seeing your gorgeous swatches I’ll be on the hunt for Opi’s Alcatraz Rocks, and Cover Girl’s Inferno! Thanks for sharing, and Happy New Year!

    • Michelle Mismas says:

      You’re so welcome Juli! I saw a full display of the COVERGIRL Catching Fire collection at a Bed, Bath & Beyond/Harmon recently so Inferno is still out there.

  13. DEBBIE BELL says:

    I love every single one! Its so hard to pick..would have taken me loved loved Esssie For the twill of it..& Laura Mercier Bewitched!!! I love following your blog..because i love nail polish:) You do such an awesome job Michelle!!

    • Michelle Mismas says:

      Thank you so much Debbie! It was hard to pick but also fun remembering all the great shades we saw this year.

  14. Lena says:

    i missed the short window of chanel taboo, and am telling myself i don’t regret it, but still, seeing it on everyone’s best of list is crushing…
    will have to hunt down that UD zodiac…

    my best nail polish find of 2013 would have to be cirque colors ‘helios’, the perfect gold glitter!

  15. Holy sweet baby tadpoles that Sally Hansen Royal Icing is amazinggggggg. Fabulous choices.

  16. Amanda says:

    I just picked up Zoya’s Chita, Sunshine, and Carter my local Ulta store. They were in the clearance bin for $4.99! This is my first experience with the Pixie Dust line and I’m totally in love with each color. I love Chita because there’s just no other green polish that can compare to this and Carter because despite it’s bright purple, super glittery appearance in the bottle, the shade is muted and a smoky black or charcoal base shows underneath the purple shimmers once the polish dries on the nail. I can’t believe I’ve gone so long without trying this fantastic brand of nail polish!

  17. Jenni says:

    I want that Zoya Sunshine pixie Dust polish! I love the blues and purples, especially the ones that sparkle or have texture! Thanks for the list and your dedication to the polish world!!!

  18. Leah says:

    Hi! I am a complete neophyte when it comes to nail polish! I am generally a lazy person who has nice natural nails and occasionally I like to paint them to make them look well nicer and prevent them from breaking! Anyway, I sampled a Chanel polish the other day and really noticed a big difference from the cheapo brands I usually buy. It dried faster, was easy to apply and it didn’t have a nasty smell. My question is this…the bottle was

    • Michelle Mismas says:

      Hi Leah! I wouldn’t say you are imagining things. Some Chanel polishes are really great in terms of application, formula and wear. But, like most things, that’s subjective and doesn’t apply to every Chanel polish. A lot depends on the pigment used though I generally like their formula. Some don’t have good luck with it but I’ve never had any complaints. I say, if the color is unique and you can’t get it out of your head, it’s totally worth the splurge.

  19. Leah says:

    Hi! thank you for replying. :) i bought the Ballerina colour…it is clear with the lightest hint of pink and I love it. Considering I don’t buy a lot of nail polish it made sense to splurge a little but this could be the beginning of an addiction, hahaha.
    Thanks again for your feedback. Cheers, Leah

  20. Juli says:

    Well, I was able to find a bottle of SH’s “Quick Jeanius” on earlier this month, and was thrilled. Then, guess what? I was wandering around Walmart yesterday, and of course I had to stop in the Health & Beauty department……and there, lurking behind all the other Sally Hansen nail polishes was a lone bottle of…….Quick Jeanius!!! Of course I had to buy a back up bottle! I’ve found several discontinued polishes at Walmart this way, so it’s worth the hunt.

  21. Rose J. says:

    Michele — How I love you, your blog & reviews. How my pocketbook has different feelings! lol For my birthday wish list I had 2 polishes — that’s it. No crazy Clarins 230 for a gazillion dollars or Essie Dominica Green. Just Estee Lauder Smoked Chrome and Chanel Taboo, both gleaned from this site. You rock! (And the birthday fairy came early. Smoked Chrome is STUNNING!)