Water-Based Nail Polish: The Healthier Alternative

Water-Based Nail Polish: The Healthier Alternative

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As our awareness grows regarding the potential health risks posed by harsh chemicals and irritants, we are all reevaluating our beauty routines and opting to discard products containing questionable ingredients.

However, most of the clean beauty advocacy surrounds the skincare and makeup categories, which is why most of us don’t consider looking for clean or healthy nail polish. 

This is concerning as most nail polish products contain some of the harshest chemicals like dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde. 

Group of bright nail polishes, on pink background

But do not fret. Healthier alternatives to traditional nail polish do exist, including water-based nail polish!

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about this type of nail polish, along with its benefits and drawbacks.

We’ll also recommend seven of our favorite water-based nail polish products that’ll give you a flawless, eye-catching manicure! 

Suncoat Classics Nail Polish French Pink
Editor's Choice
  • Long-lasting
  • Quick-drying
  • Does not dry or discolor nails
  • Odorless
  • Flattering pigments
BONTIME Non-Toxic Nail Polish
Premium Pick
  • Easy application 
  • Quick dry
  • Flawless coverage
  • Outstanding shine
  • Stain- and smudge-free
Piggy Paint Natural as Mud
Budget Pick
  • Chip resistance
  • 100% non-toxic
  • Safe for kids 
  • Hard, durable finish 
  • Comes in 35 rainbows of fun, highly pigmented shades

What Is Water-Based Nail Polish?

In simple terms, water-based nail polish utilizes water as its primary solvent and typically contains natural ingredients that nourish your nails. 

To understand what makes water-based nail polish different from traditional oil-based nail polish, it’s important to note that all nail polish products contain solvents, which are substances that dissolve other ingredients to create a solution. 

However, because traditional nail polish is oil-based, it uses potentially harmful substances like butyl acetate or ethyl acetate as solvents to effectively dissolve its pigments and film-forming material to create a smooth, long-lasting finish.

On the flip side, water-based nail polish uses only water to dissolve its other ingredients, which is why it’s considered healthier for the nails and gentler on the skin. It also doesn’t stain your nails or feel sticky. 

Plus, it typically contains natural pigments and minerals, which help nourish your nails and keep them looking healthy.

That said, because water-based nail polish doesn’t contain oil, it can wear off more easily, especially if your nails are frequently exposed to water.

Nevertheless, newer water-based nail polish formulations are now made more durable and quick-drying with several colors to choose from.

This means water-based formulas can rival traditional nail polish products! 

They are eco-friendly and a healthy option to keep your nails looking chic and stylish. So choosing them is a win-win for your nails and the planet.

Benefits of Using Water-Based Nail Polish

Here are just a few of the benefits you can expect when you make the switch to water-based nail polish:

Non-Toxic and Good for the Environment

Traditional nail polish products have resins and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde, methyl methacrylate, ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, and toluene, which are harmful to your health and the environment. 

These compounds are known to trigger allergic reactions. One study even showed that prolonged exposure to them can lead to breast cancer. 

By contrast, water-based nail polish offers a safer alternative with non-toxic ingredients that are gentle on your nails.

These variants are odorless, providing a more pleasant polish application experience. And they’re also biodegradable, so they reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals. 

This makes them an especially ideal choice for those seeking healthier beauty products and pregnant women as well, ensuring a healthier and more environmentally friendly option for their nail care routine.

Easy To Remove

We’ve all struggled with removing stubborn nail polish. But with water-based nail polish, that won’t be a problem. 

Removing it is a breeze; you can usually just remove it with just soap and water or a gentle nail polish remover like rubbing alcohol. Now you can say goodbye to harsh acetone-based removers!

Available Vegan and Cruelty-Free Options

If you’re conscious about animal rights and the environment, you’ll be pleased to know that many water-based nail polishes are vegan and cruelty-free.

 This means you can enjoy beautiful, vibrant nail colors without any guilt.

Potential Cost Savings 

While water-based nail polish may cost a bit more upfront than traditional nail polish, it can actually save you money in the long run.

Because it’s easier to remove, you won’t need to buy nail polish remover with it.  

And since water-based nail polish brands can now rival traditional nail polish in terms of performance and durability, there is less need for frequent touch-ups. 

Drawbacks of Using Water-Based Nail Polish 

While there are a lot of health benefits to using natural nail polish, there are a few limitations and drawbacks you need to keep in mind. 

Here are a few things you need to consider before making the switch: 

Does Not Last as Long 

Because water-based nail polish uses water as a solvent, it may not be as long-lasting as your regular nail polish. 

Usually, water-based nail polish can last for a few days to a week, whereas traditional nail polish can last up to two weeks with proper maintenance. 

The longevity of water-based polish may be further reduced if subjected to frequent exposure to water or rigorous activities that can cause chipping or fading.

May Require More Coats for Full Coverage

Depending on the brand and formula, you may need to apply more coats of water-based nail polish to attain the level of coverage you need. 

This can be a bit time-consuming, especially if you’re used to conventional nail polish.  

Has a More Limited Color Selection 

While water-based nail polish brands are constantly expanding their color offerings, you may find that the selection is more limited compared to traditional nail polish.

If you’re looking for a specific shade or finish, you may need to do some searching to find a water-based alternative.

May Cost More

Water-based nail polish generally costs more than traditional nail polish because of the difference in their ingredients and production processes.

The water-based variants often use higher quality and more pure ingredients, such as plant-based pigments and resins, which can be more expensive to source and manufacture.

Additionally, their production requires more specialized equipment and processes to ensure that the formula or the ingredients of water-based nail polish remain stable and do not separate over time. 

All of these factors contribute to the higher price point.

Nonetheless, the benefits of using water-based nail polish, such as being less toxic and better for the environment, outweigh the additional cost.

7 of Our Favorite Water-Based Nail Polish Products You Must Try 

Ready to try out amazing natural nail polish?

Here are the seven best water-based nail polish products you can try for chic and healthy-looking nails. 

Best Water-Based Nail Polish Overall

Suncoat Classics Nail Polish in French Pink

We adore the translucent creamy color of the Suncoat Classics French Pink, which gives a healthy pink tinge to your nails.

Premium Benefits: Long-lasting and quick-drying; does not dry out the nails or cause discoloration; flattering hue


  • With mineral pigments and natural colorants
  • Cruelty-free and eco-friendly
  • Nonflammable and odorless

Suncoat is formulated with 70% water, along with natural colors and pigments to suit any mood or occasion.


Bring a touch of classic elegance to your nails with the Suncoat Classics Nail Polish in French Pink!

Made with clean ingredients and without any harmful chemicals, this nail polish is gentle on your nails and the environment.

It’s easy to apply and dries quickly while providing excellent coverage with just a few coats.

Plus, Suncoat is one of the nail polish brands that do not test on animals, so you can feel good about your purchase!

Best Hypoallergenic Water-Based Nail Polish

SOPHi Nail Polish in Dance Lilac No One's Watching

We are absolutely in love with this SOPHi product! Its lilac color is the perfect base for any type of nail art, allowing health-conscious women to have a clean, worry-free manicure.

Primary Benefits: Hard and durable finish lasts long; vibrant matte light purple color; guarantees smooth application; provides full coverage with just one coat


  • Vegan & cruelty-free water-based formula
  • Safe for pregnant and nursing moms
  • Nonflammable, non-toxic, and odorless

Since SOPHi is water-based, you need not worry about brittle or yellow nails, just healthy-looking nails!


Sophi Nail Polish is made with natural, non-toxic ingredients. 

Since it does not contain damaging ingredients that cause your nails to become dry, brittle, or discolored, Sophi Nail Polish is the suitable choice for anyone who wants to keep their nails healthy and stylish.

Also, the stunning lilac shade is perfect for any occasion, from a night out on the town to a casual day at home. 

Plus, it’s vegan and cruelty-free. So go ahead and show off your beautiful nails with Sophi Nail Polish in Dance Lilac No One Is Watching!

Best Eco-Friendly Water-Based Nail Polish

Tophany Non-Toxic Nail Polish

We love Tophany’s eco-friendly and organic formula that is completely non-toxic in a range of pigments.

Primary Benefits: Non-toxic; water-based; clean and safe ingredients; lasts long; comes in a vast range of colors; dries quickly


  • Peel-off formula for easy removal
  • Organic and eco-friendly
  • Free of phthalates, formaldehyde, toluene, parabens, and gluten

This nail polish dries in 80 seconds, making it ideal for quick and hassle-free nail polish application!


Tophany Non-Toxic Nail Polish is made with only the best natural ingredients. With a wide range of colors to choose from like pink, red, and nude, you’re sure to find the perfect shade to match your style.

Additionally, it’s odorless, so you can apply it without assaulting your senses with the harsh, awful smell traditional polish has.

Its water-based formula is also peelable, so you can peel it off quickly when you want to try a different nail color. 

And with its lasting formula, this water-based nail polish will keep your nails looking beautiful for days on end. 

Best Quick-Drying Water-Based Nail Polish

Honeybee Gardens Water-Based Nail Enamel in Fairy Dust

Honeybee is one of the best water-based non-toxic nail polish products with a collection of gorgeous colors and pigments made for all with love. 

Primary Benefits: Quick-drying; offers a wide range of stunning colors


  • Water-based, non-toxic, odorless formula
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Earth-friendly 

Finally, you can say goodbye to nasty chemicals common in conventional nail polish and enjoy healthy and stunning nails with nail polish!


If you are looking for a water-based nail polish that’s both vibrant and eco-friendly, Honeybee Gardens Water-Based Nail Enamel in Fairy Dust is for you. 

Made with organic ingredients, this polish is “5-free,” meaning it does not contain strong chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates, and camphor. 

It’s easy to apply and quick to dry, leaving your nails looking flawless. 

Honeybee Gardens Water-Based Nail Enamel in Island Orchid is the perfect choice for anyone who wants their nails to look great and stay healthy while also caring for the environment.

Best Water-Based Nail Polish for Kids

Piggy Paint Natural as Mud

We can't get enough of Piggy Paint's advanced water-based formula that dries to a hard finish and doesn’t wash or peel off.

Primary Benefits: Resists chipping; has a hard, durable finish that doesn't peel; comes in 35 fun, highly pigmented shades 


  • 100% non-toxic and free of harsh chemicals
  • Virtually odorless
  • Vegan and cruelty-free 
  • Safe for kids and all ages

Made from the cleanest ingredients, Piggy Paint is free of potentially harmful chemicals, so your little ones can use it safely!


One of the things that really stands out about Piggy Paint is its durability. Despite being a water-based nail polish, it lasts for several days without chipping or peeling.

For best results, you can blow-dry your nails after applying it for one minute with a hair dryer on low heat.

Plus, its formula is eco-friendly and vegan, making it a great choice for kids who love to play with nail polish and for adults who want to avoid toxic chemicals in their beauty routine. 

So if you’re looking for a natural and eco-friendly nail polish that delivers on quality and durability, the Piggy Paint Natural as Mud is definitely worth a try!

Best Affordable Water-Based Nail Polish

Abitzon Nail Polish Set

With its easy-to-peel formula and color-rich set of nail colors, changing from one shade to another to suit any occasion is a breeze! 

Primary Benefits: Dries quickly in 60 seconds; easy to remove; can be used as a base coat or top coat; offers plenty of color options for different occasions


  • Non-toxic and eco-friendly
  • Non-irritating formula
  • Set of 10 colors

With this water-based nail polish’s its quick-drying feature, you can wear marvelous nails in no time. And you can peel it off and replace


Abitzon Nail Polish Set offers 10 stunning hues, ranging from bold and bright to subtle and understated. You can freely choose a shade that suits your style or even your current mood. 

Whether you want a bold red or a classic blue, this set has got you covered. The polish applies smoothly and evenly, and the colors are vibrant.

Overall, the Abitzon Nail Polish Set is an amazing option for anyone who wants a versatile and affordable water-based nail polish set. 

Best Versatile Water-Based Nail Polish

BONTIME Non-Toxic Nail Polish

We love the vibrant color and the high-gloss finish of Bontime's non-toxic nail polish, which is free of solvents that are corrosive to your nails, allowing you to safely create any amazing nail art at home!

Primary Benefits: Easy to apply and peel off; dries quickly; offers flawless coverage and a beautiful shine; doesn’t stain or smudge


  • No chemical smell
  • Vegan and cruelty-free with 100% healthy natural ingredients
  • Made with mineral pigments 

Bontime is the number one choice for those who want to remove their polish quickly and easily without using nail polish removal products.


BONTIME is a versatile water-based nail polish made with healthy and eco-friendly ingredients. 

It features a wide range of vibrant colors and provides full and smooth coverage, giving you a great way to enjoy a top-notch mani to wear to any occasion or pair with any outfit. 

Plus, it never smudges and offers a smooth, glossy finish that is sure to make your nails stand out. 

You can also peel it off quickly without the use of harsh acetone-based nail polish removers.

How To Apply Water-Based Polish 

Before we explore our seven water-based nail polish favorites, there are a few tips we wish to share when applying this type of nail product.

Whether you’re a newbie to water-based nail polish or a DIY maven, here are some step-by-step instructions to help you get started and great tips to ensure you get the best results: 

Step 1: Prep Your Nails

Start by cleaning your nails thoroughly, buffing them, and filing them into your desired shape. Apply a base coat to help the nail polish adhere and prevent staining.

Step 2: Apply the First Coat

Apply a thin layer of water-based nail polish to each nail gently. Be sure to let each coat dry fully before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Apply Additional Coats as Needed

Depending on the brand and formula, you may need to apply additional coats of nail polish to achieve full coverage. 

Remember to let each coat dry completely before applying the next one.

Step 4: Finish With a Water-Based Top Coat

Once your final coat is dry, finish applying your water-based nail polish with a top coat to add shine and help your nail polish last longer. 

The Piggy Paint Shine Topcoat is an excellent choice for a non-toxic, cruelty-free, and water-based top coat for your nails. 

Tips for Achieving the Best Results When Applying Water-Based Nail Polish

  • Make sure to be gentle when applying water-based nail polish to avoid streaking or smudging.
  • Let each coat dry completely before applying the next one to prevent bubbling or peeling.
  • Always use a high-quality top coat to help your nail polish last longer and resist chipping.
  • Avoid soaking your nails in water for at least an hour after applying water-based nail polish to ensure it sets properly.

By following these simple steps and tips, you can achieve a beautiful, long-lasting manicure with water-based nail polish.

Make the Switch: Embrace Healthy and Eco-Friendly Nails With Water-Based Nail Polish Products

Water-based nail polish offers a healthy, non-toxic, and eco-friendly alternative to traditional nail polish without sacrificing style and color options. 

While it costs a little more and has a few limitations, the benefits this healthy option offers are worth the investment. 

Its minor drawbacks are well worth the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re making a safer and more sustainable choice for your nails.

Whether you’re someone who is passionate about sustainability or someone who simply wants to take better care of their nails, water-based nail polish products are an excellent choice.

With a wide range of colors and finishes available from some of the top brands in the industry, you’re sure to find a product that suits your style and preferences.

Check out our top picks for natural nail polish and say goodbye to harmful chemicals in your beauty routine!

So why not make the switch today and experience the benefits of water-based nail polish products for yourself? 

Your nails and the environment will thank you for it!

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