Top 10 of 2013: Best Nail Lacquers

I have to admit: this was a complete challenge. In fact, it felt unfair trying to narrow down favorites to a mere ten when I was considering around 300 different shades from the past year. As what tends to happen when I start to feel indecisive, I went for favorites across brands and weighted uniqueness slightly more heavily than other factors. But there were some really outstanding formulas released this year! At year-end, I have to give major props to Cult Nails and OCC, both of which had a lot of contenders.

What were your favorite polishes you tried this past year?

We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!

Compare Any Two Swatches

Curious how two shades compare to each other? Type in the shades below to get instant side-by-side swatches!

We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!

59 Comments

Comments that do not adhere to our comment policy may be removed. Discussion and debate are highly encouraged but we expect community members to participate respectfully. Please keep discussion on-topic, and if you have general feedback, a product review request, an off-topic question, or need technical support, please contact us!

Please help us streamline the comments' section and be more efficient: double-check the post above for more basic information like pricing, availability, and so on to make sure your question wasn't answered already. Comments alerting us to typos or small errors in the post are appreciated (!) but will typically be removed after errors are fixed (unless a response is needed).

We appreciate enthusiasm for new releases but ask readers to please hold questions regarding if/when a review will be posted as we can't commit to or guarantee product reviews. We don't want to set expectations and then disappoint readers as even products that are swatched don't always end up being reviewed due to time constraints and changes in priorities! Thank you for understanding!

Comments on this post are closed.
We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!

I think the only nail polishes I bought this year were from OPI and none was a new shade – I got Affair in Red Square, Mrs. O’Leary’s BBQ, Suzi Says Da, Bastille My Heart, Don’t Know, Beets Me and It’s all Greek to Me all on sale half price (SCORE) at a beauty supply store in my neighbourhood. But I don’t think any of these shades is exclusively from 2013.

My favorites are:
1) Chanel Le Vernis in Rouge Rubis and Taboo
2) China Glaze Nail Lacquers in Fade into Hue and Tart-y for the Party
3) Deborah Lippman Nail Lacquers in Fake It Til You Make It and Million Dollar Mermaid
4) Dior Diorific Vernis in Minuit
5) Guerlain Le Vernis in Champs Elysees and Madame Batifole
6) Illamasqua Nail Varnish in Facet, Freckle, and Mottle
7) Rescue Beauty Lounge Nail Polishes in Become One, Fire Queen, Forgiveness, and Scrangie 2.0

I really need to get Cult Nails Faded… I purchased Let’s Get Dirty after seeing your review and was so impressed with application. I’m really impatient with nail polish and the Cult Nails formula made getting a neat finish easy, even for me. I also like the Dior shade above it, and the first Cult Nails shade, but I personally wouldn’t wear them often. Same with the Zoya and UD!

Agreed on the Color Club holos. I wish Cult Nails were more easily available here in the UK. I can’t really justify the delivery price, however amazing Masquerade may look. I haven’t tried any Illamasqua yet, but they have 3 for £30 on their website with free delivery, and Facet was going to be one of the ones I got.

Have you tried any A England? I don’t know how easy they are to get in the US, but they’re probably the best quality polishes I’ve tried so far – they practically apply themselves, are very pigmented and I get great wear time with them.

Ooh, you should try Illamasqua! That sounds like a good deal. One of my all-time favorite formulas!

I have tried A England before! I think I have maybe two or three shades rattling about somewhere.

Hi Sabinen,

The information I received from Illamasqua’s corporate office was that Bloomingdale’s carries Facet (or at least did when it was released–I sent my inquiry to Illamasqua in December). You can also order from Illamasqua’s website directly – as anyone can. These are my top tens, so they’re my personal picks based on my criteria, not yours, – so maybe yours wouldn’t have included it, and I invite you to share yours!

Too bad it is not available on the Bloomindale’s website now. Also shipping directly from Illamasqua’s website costs $21 to the U.S. Ouch! Looks like a beautiful color; too bad it is no longer available in the U.S.

I know if you purchase over 50 pounds, international shipping is free, though I don’t know if there is a surcharge for polish due to new shipping restrictions (affected polish/fragrance globally).

Taboo! <3
That Illamasqua one looks incredible, too. And I'm so sad we don't get Marc Jacobs beauty productq here, there are quite a few that sound appealing.

That Cult Nails pale gray is gorgeous it looks vanillaish/creamish gorgeous!
2013 I’ve been loving
Zoya Darcy, Charisma
Nars Amchoor
Deborah Lippman Candy Shop?
OPI Beach Cruiser & Cabana Boy & this blue shade*brain freeze*

I adored the Zoya releases this year.

I find myself, as I did last year, saving links to all your end of the year lists to refer back to later for purchases. The Color Club choice looks divine!

My top 10 (in no particular order)…

Milani 1 Coat Glitter in Purple Gleam – Violet. Sparkles. Amazing. (needs about 3 layers of topcoat but worth it!)
LA Girl Rockstar polish in Groupie – definitely a top pick for me!
LA Girl Nude Lacquers in Antique (subtle, creamy greyed lilac cream) and Intimate (sheer, smoky pink translucence) both utterly lovely.
China Glaze For Audrey – I know it’s been around for ever but I only just got it and it’s incredible.
China Glaze Riveting (Hunger Games) – luminous gold flecked orange.
LA Girl Birthday Cake – cupcake pink with multi glitter, so fun!
Jordana nail polish in Frozen Grape – an utterly perfect berry cream for $2
NYX Advanced Salon Formula in Lime – metallic chartreuse that always gets comments!
Jordana Texture Glitters – all of them are cool but Light Amethyst is a favourite.

None of these brands are even available in New Zealand and I pay horrendous shipping fees but it’s worth it to have these lovelies!

There’s quite a lot, mostly indies. I don’t think I could make a top 10.
Cirque Tibetian Nights, Coronation Street, and Electric Circus.
Cult Nails Manipulative and Miss Conduct
Deborah Lippmann I Know What Boys Like, Bring on the Bling, and Diamonds and Pearls
YSL Jade Imperiale 34 and Premiere Neige
Jin Soon Blue Iris, Charade, Gossamer, and Gala
Colors by Llarowe Unorthodox Annie, Smooth Criminal, Paper Moon and Oh Christmas Tree
Elevation Polish Malaspina Glacier
Rescue Beauty Lounge Scrangie 2.0, Turn It Around, Lucciole and Revellion
Girly Bits Shift Happens
Fnug Long Johns, Got to Have, and Trendsetter
Dior Nirvana
Illamasqua Cameo
OPI Damone Roberts
L’oreal Royalty Reinvented and New Money
Butter London Two Fingered Salute
Le Metier de Beaute Dream Maker and Midnight Rendezvous
Enchanted Polish Flamingo Freckles and Time to Pretend

Most of my nail polishes were either from OPI or cult nails and a few essie I guess. Cult nails is this years find for me. Love almost all the shades. The 3 from masquerade collection tops the list! 🙂

So many pretty shades! I wanted to get Taboo when it came out, but it sold out here pretty much instantly! I think you can get it again, but there are other things I’m saving up for now…and I know someone who has a bottle anyway ;-).

I absolutely loved Facet when you reviewed it, and today that I read this I realize that it looks a lot like what I’m wearing on my nails right now!

I’m wearing 2 coats of Sally Hansen Earl Gray and 1 coat of Sinful Colors 24 Karat. The look overall is a bit lighter than Facet–Earl Gray is a bit lighter and slightly less brown, and 24 Karat is lighter and slightly less coppery. I guess it would be easy to find a darker taupe color, and I think 2 coats of 24 Karat over it would look just perfect. 🙂 24 Karat is limited-edition but it should still be in stores! It’s such a lovely golden top coat!

LOVE Cult Nails polish formula and colors, and Masquerade is definitely my favorite this year. I was so glad I jumped to get that 3-pack. I have to seek out Illamaqua Facet. That looks pretty amazing, too.

I appreciate how hard this must have been, Christine! So many beautiful polishes; I’ve been intimidated from even trying them… that being said, I knew Chanel Taboo would be on here. Haha.

The ones I’ve worn the most this year:
Chanel Accessoire (wearing it on NYE)
Dior Blue Label
Dior Galaxie
Dior Marilyn
Marc Jacobs Petra
OPI I Knead Sour–Dough
OPI Muir Muir On The Wall

Lovely choices! I hope to one day see reviews of A-England from you. They are by far my favorite brand of nail polish. They are also pretty accessible in the US now.

Hi Sabine,

Illamasqua confirmed, in December, that Facet is/was available at Bloomingdale’s in-stores and online.

We try to approve comments within 24 hours (and reply to them within 72 hours) but can sometimes get behind and appreciate your patience! 🙂 If you have general feedback, product review requests, off-topic questions, or need technical support, please contact us directly. Thank you for your patience!