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Top 10 Tuesday – Best Nail Polish Brushes

Top 10 Nail Polish Brushes via @AllLacqueredUp

Top 10 Nail Polish Brushes

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As important as it is for a nail polish to have a great formula (smooth, pigmented, streak-free), it means nothing if the brush you use to apply it isn’t up to par. The two definitely go hand in hand, which is why, when the Top 10 Tuesday crew decided to focus on brushes, I opted to hone in on my favorite nail polish brushes.

The Best Nail Polish Brushes

Best Nail Polish Brush via @AllLacqueredUp

Best Nail Polish Brushes

Clockwise from Top

CND VINYLUX ($9.95, – CND introduced their current flat brush with the Color & Effects line and it was love and first stroke. Opting for triangular bristles that suck up polish like a squeegee, the flexible brush fans out to create a crisp line at the cuticle while giving excellent coverage.

Deborah Lippmann ($18, – The queen of prestige nail lacquer, the brush inside the vanity-worthy bottle is just as well made. Thin, round, short and flexible, with an ergonomic handle, this brush was designed with the pro in mind yet it’s just as accessible for consumers.

Morgan Taylor ($8.50, – I have nothing but good things to say about Morgan Taylor. It’s quickly becoming one of my fave new polish brands. If they get better mainstream distribution, watch out! The thin, flat brush reminds me a lot of the one in CND VINYLUX.

China Glaze ($6.99, – I perfected my application technique around the time I became obsessed with China Glaze and their brush has a lot to do with it. It’s always been one of my fave brushes because it’s long, thin and flexible, offering a lot of control.

Urban Decay ($15, – When Urban Decay brought their cult classic nail polish back into our lives, they did it right. Taking the time to construct an eye-catching bottle and user-friendly brush, I forgive them for leaving us high and dry for a time. Like the China Glaze brush, it’s thin and long but more dense, delivering a lot of polish in one stroke.

Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear ($2.79, – Of all the Sally Hansen brushes, this is definitely my fave of the bunch and I wish they would just convert all their lines to use it. Flat, short, thin and flexible, it makes polishing a breeze.

Zoya ($9, – If isn’t apparent, I love a thin brush. Wide are fine and I can make them work but I feel like you get the best result with a thin brush and Zoya’s is right up there with the best of the thin, pro-style brushes. I found that when I really got my polishing technique down, I preferred the control of a thin brush over the ease of a wide one.

Essie ($8.50, – There’s a reason almost any salon you walk into carries Essie. Pros love their brush and formula and while I’m far from a pro, I agree and can see why it’s a perennial favorite. The thin, flexible brush works so well at manipulating their polish.

MAC ($12, – I’ve given MAC a lot of s— over the years about their brush. Let’s face it, the old one was garbage. Thankfully, they have revamped the line and I am all for giving credit where it’s due. The new MAC Studio Nail Lacquer brush is light-years ahead of the one we loved to hate. Flat, medium in width with, praise jeebus, FLEXIBLE BRISTLES, it finally does justice to the juice inside the bottle.

Nubar Nail Art Pen ($7, –  I’ve tried a lot of nail art striper polishes over the years and Nubar definitely has the best brush of them all. Super thin, long, consistently well cut, it makes drawing so much easier than any of the others. Bonus: the Nubar Nail Art Pen comes in a huge array of colors from basics, to metallics to neons.

Top 10 Nail Polish Brushes via @AllLacqueredUp

Top 10 Nail Polish Brushes

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Would any of my favorite nail polish brushes make your Top 10 list? What brand has your favorite brush? What brand do you think I skipped? Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Disclosure: Product samples were provided by reps for each brand 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 36 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Lisa N. says:

    Nice picks for your top 10 nail polish brushes. I’ll have to try some of them out.

  2. shifrah says:

    Seems like you like thin brushes! I love thick wide brushes because I have wider long nails so my favorites are OPI and Nine Ultra Pro!

  3. Phyrra says:

    I like the CND Vinylux brush. I also really like the new NARS brush and the new Nails Inc brushes.

  4. Teri Cosenzi says:

    You are incredible – I could not differentiate between more than a few nail polish brushes. I bow down to you!

  5. AMAZING idea! Nail Polish brushes must be perfection to make me happy. Dior actually has my fave. Another has a similar one now and I can’t think of the brand, but I know I love Dior’s brush!

  6. Melody says:

    I don’t paint my nails often but when I do I always tend to make note of the type of brush because there are some that I just don’t like!

  7. So interesting, I never really paid much attention to nail polish brushes except for the flat SH one!

  8. Randy says:

    You know what’s weird thou… Essie brushes in Europe are totally different! I’m from Holland and when I ordered some Essie polish online from the US, I was shocked by how thin the brush was! European Essie brushes are much thicker and flat, which I think works a lot better than the US brushes…

  9. Pammy says:

    This is a nice twist on the brush post! I think the brush style really does make a huge difference for polish application. :)

  10. MarciaF says:

    This is so interesting. I’ve always noticed a difference with brushes but never thought about what makes some better than ever.

  11. Helen says:

    Loved the post! Would it be possible to include close-up shots of the brushes so we can see the shape? I feel like I have trouble getting into the “corner” of my cuticle with a lot of wider brushes – maybe I have a weird cuticle shape? Also…what shade is that morgan taylor polish? I need it!!

    • Hi Helen! I don’t have close-up photos to add to the post but thanks for the suggestion.

      And that Morgan Taylor polish is called Making Waves. I’m obsessed with it

  12. I love how you went over all the brushes! I really feel like a huge part of the polish experience is the brush, there are products I won’t use because I hate their brushes.

  13. Kate & Zena says:

    While I love OPI, Essie and China Glaze, I just go between Essie, Illamasqua and butterLONDON as having my favorite brush. I don’t know why I love them so much, but their squared/rectangular handles are the most perfect things for my lupus-ridden hands and the bristles are just perfect for me. Essie’s small cylinder one I can have issues with, but the brush is amazing.

  14. jbrobeck says:

    I’ve always loved the Essie brush!

  15. Oy, I totally and completely agree about SH needing to switch all their brushes to the ones in their Xtremewear line! I don’t understand why drugstore companies want to cram brushes that are so fat and wide into bottles that they barely make it into the neck without a mess everywhere. =P

  16. My fave nail brushes are YSL and Dior I think. <3

  17. Tricia says:

    I’m late on this, but I hate all wide, flat brushes! I get so much more control with the thinner, longer ones like those you listed. I have to agree about the Sally Hansen brushes. I don’t know what they’re smoking with those thick ones, lol.
    I just got my first bottle of Morgan Taylor (making waves), and I’m in love!

  18. Rose J. says:

    You mentioned perfecting your polish technique a few times. How long would you say before your technique was perfected? There are times I think I do well. There are times I think my nails were painted by a blind monkey.

    • Well, I still make mistakes so I’m in no way perfect but it has certainly evolved over the years to a place where I am usually happy with the results. I don’t know what I can pinpoint how long it took me though. It’s just that the more I did it, the better it started to get.

  19. Ariadna says:

    I don’t know why it took me so long to find your website!! Instead of working I’m finding myself looking back through your posts. And I agree with some of your picks for brushes, I haven’t tried all of the brands you mentioned but I hate, HATE, the Sally Hansen Insta-dry brush, the one that comes in the weird triangle shape bottle. A friend let me borrow her bottle because I loved the color and I have refused to buy any of those nail polishes for the brush alone. Interesting topic, now I’m off to check the rest of your website!! :)

    • I don’t know either but I’m glad you did! Hope your boss doesn’t catch you, ha! And yes, that Sally Hansen brush is polarizing. I don’t mind it but it takes some getting used to. Definitely not my favorite.

  20. Such great comparison post. I love Rimmel London Pro brushes, they are rounded from tip so it gives perfect application in one stroke.