What to Look for in a Nail Polish Brush

I have given myself a manicure every week for the last, oh, decade.  I love filing my nails, shaping them, pushing back the cuticle, moisturizing my hands.  I love applying polish.  I love all the colors.  It’s a ritual for me, something I do every week, a way to relax and take care of myself.  So.  I’ve come to realize, during these many hundreds of manicures, that the little things matter.  Like the shape and size of the nail polish brush.  Yes.  It matters.  What follows is more than you ever thought you’d want to know about what to look for in a nail polish brush.


Essie – $8

My least favorite brush.  Essie has a number of things working against it.  First, a narrow brush.  Narrow means you have to make more brush strokes to cover the nail, and it also means you’re more likely to go over the same wet area twice.  That’s a no-no.  Have you ever gotten bubble on the surface of freshly painted nails?  It’s because you didn’t let the previous layer dry.  Second, the brush is also short.  This wouldn’t be so bad if the polish were thicker and you didn’t need to apply much.  But Essie polishes are really thin and streaky, and they take an extra long time to dry.  So you’re having to dip the brush many times to get enough polish, apply it many times to cover the nail, and having to do many layers to get an opaque look.  Boo.  Boo I say.


Sephora by OPI – $9.50

This is one of the more expensive nail polishes out there.  The colors are always on-trend, and they’re displayed brilliantly at Sephora–a huge rack of color and glitter and popping out against the black of the display shelves.  However…not my favorite brush.  It’s narrow like the Essie brush above.  But, it’s not all terrible–the brush is long, which I like, and it has a pliable texture, which means it glides smoothly over the nail.


Revlon – $4.99

A decent brush.  Wide enough and long enough, plus the consistency of the polish is thick enough that you’re not having to apply more than two coats.  I wish the bristles of the brush were a bit softer–they’re sort of plasticky.  But overall, not bad at all.


Maybelline – $3.19

Great brush.  Nice and wide.  Soft bristles.  A little shorter than the others, but that doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.  This Express Finish is also nice and thick.  Goes on smoothly and opaquely, and dries quickly.  Score.


Rimmel – $3.99

MY FAVORITE.  Look at how thick that brush is!  Plus, you’ll notice it’s tapered on the sides, which means it echoes the shape of the nail bed–no straight line across the edge of the curved nail bed.  I’ve sung the praises of Rimmel nail polish before, but don’t think that will prevent me from doing it again.  Rimmel dries quickly, goes on thickly, and last a long time without chipping and cracking.  Great, basic colors with occasional trends thrown in (like the shimmery blue shown above).


Is Beth a little wack-a-do for caring so much about nail polish brushes?  Or are you similarly obsessed?


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