The 5 Best Black Nail Polishes

Alle Connell

The countdown to Halloween begins—and if you’re not the kind of girl to go all out with a costume, you can still embrace the spookiness of the season with a perfect black manicure. If you’re having angsty teen flashbacks, put those out of your mind: the latest breed of dark varnishes play with intensity, finish and shine to create nail looks that are more glam than goth. Check out our picks for the very best black nail polishes ever.

essie nail polish licorice

Photo: Essie

Essie Nail Polish in Licorice ($8.50, Essie)
The original and still the best: Licorice is a true black with a creamy formula that flows on beautifully and dries to a beyond glossy finish. Opaque in two quick-drying coats, we especially love this color because it never stains or discolors our nails—even if we (accidentally) forget a base coat.

jinsoon nocturne

Photo: JinSOON

JinSOON Nail Polish in Nocturne ($18, Jin Soon)
Nocturne is the most sophisticated dark nail shade we’ve ever seen. Right on the border between deep charcoal-grey and black, it’s as shimmery and beautiful as a dark mirror. The best part? It’s opaque in a single coat and, uniquely for a polish with a metallic sheen like this, applies without any streakiness.

butter london the black knight

Photo: Butter London

Butter London in The Black Knight ($15, Butter London)
If you like a little sparkle in your darkness, The Black Knight is for you. With pink, blue and gold microglitter suspended in a sheer black polish, this unique shade manages to be fun and grown-up at the same time. And uniquely for a glitter, it’s also very easy to remove—talk about perfect!

nars black fire nail polish

Photo: NARS

NARS Nail Polish in Black Fire ($20, NARS Cosmetics)
A blue-black-grey microglitter with more shimmer than obvious sparkle, Black Fire more than lives up to its name. It’s beautifully sparkly, but in an elegant way—this is definitely a shade you could wear to the office. It’s opaque in a single coat, but has more dimension after two and may require two layers of topcoat to ensure a totally smooth finish.

revlon black nail polish

Photo: Revlon

Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy Longwear Nail Enamel in Black Jack ($6.39, Drugstore.com)
The problem with too many drugstore black nail polishes are that they’re too thin, they take too long to dry, they chip and peel like no other and they discolor the nail. Black Jack manages to avoid every single one of those pitfalls, knocking it clean out of the park with a thick, dreamy formula that flows on evenly, dries quickly and doesn’t mess up the nail underneath. Plus, it lasts a full seven days with no chipping—how’s that for amazing?

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