The Best Nail Polish for Busy Moms: I Tried 5!

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I love having painted nails, but, honestly, I don’t make time, nor do I really want to make time, to go to a salon for a manicure.  

I prefer to paint my nails myself and save the time and expense of a trip to the salon.  If I’m painting my nails myself, it has to be quick and easy and it better dry fast.  And it better last at least five days, minimum.  

Am I asking too much of a humble drug store nail polish?  Can the best nail polish for busy moms even be found at a drug store?

Let’s find out!  

This week I experimented with five different polishes that I found at Target to see which would be the best polish for busy moms.

The criteria for the polishes that I picked were:

  1.  One step process – I’m not about to be putting on a base, a polish and a top coat.  Not going to happen.  Ever.
  2. Good coverage – I really want a polish that covers in one coat.  I’ll do two, but it better dry quick.
  3. Quick Dry – Here’s how it usually goes when I paint my nails – Paint my nails.  Ten minutes later – 15 things happen that require me to use my hands and the paint is ruined.  The quick dry is essential.
  4. Long lasting – It is very unlikely that I will have the opportunity to paint my nails more than once in a week, so I really want a polish that will last at least 5 days without me looking like a hot mess with chips everywhere.
  5. Inexpensive – I really don’t want to spend more than $8 on a bottle of nail polish.

The Best Nail Polish for Busy Moms?

Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Extreme Wear – $2.99

1 – One Step Process – 4.5 out of 5  – I did not add any top coats, base coats, or any other type of coats to this polish.   I did have to add one more thin coat after I finished the first, but the initial coverage would have done in a pinch.

2.  Good Coverage – 4.5 out of 5 – Again, I could have gotten away with one coat of this polish, but the second coat definitely made a difference.

3.  Quick Dry – 3 out of 5 – This polish took about ten minutes to dry.  That is generally as much time as I will give a polish to dry.

4.  Long Lasting – 5 out of 5 – This one made it all five days without even a mark!

5. Inexpensive – 5 out of 5 – $2.99!  Can’t beat that, right?

Defy & Inspire – $7.49

  1.  One Step Process – I’m giving this a 3 out of 5.  It definitely needed a second coat and it would probably look better with a top coat to give it some shine.  Unless this matte look is a thing, in which case, I’m not on board.
  2. Good Coverage – 2 out of 5 – I had to do two coats because the first one was basically see through.  It probably could have used a third coat, in fact.
  3. Quick Dry – 3 out of 5 – This was dry in about ten minutes.  Acceptable, but not ideal.
  4. Long Lasting –  3 out 5 – By day three this one had the beginnings of chips.  Enough that it bugged me.
  5. Inexpensive – 1 out of 5 – at $7.49, this was the most expensive polish I bought.  If it had scored a bunch of 5’s, I would pay that all day, but it just doesn’t have the attributes I’m looking for in a polish.

Wet n Wild One Step Wonder Gel – $4.99

  1.  One Step Process – 5 out of 5 – Truth in advertising here. This is a gel polish, but unlike others, it didn’t need a primer or top coat.
  2. Good Coverage – 5 out 5 – This took one simple coat of polish.  I did choose a dark color, so that may have helped. Nice shiny color and easy to apply.
  3. Quick Dry – 4 out of 5 – This was dry in about 5 minutes.  That works for me.
  4. Long Lasting – 3.5 out of 5 – This did start to chip just at the top of my nail somewhere during day three.  Otherwise, this is a great polish.
  5. Inexpensive – 4 out of 5 – Yes, $4.99 is doable!

Sensationail Express Gel – $5.99

  1.  One Step Process – 4.5 out 5 – Like the Wet n Wild polish, this is another gel polish that is all in one.  I’m not giving it the full out 5 out of 5 because there is another step for drying that literally takes a minute, but it does require that you have one of those LED lights.  Which I happen to have.
  2. Good Coverage – 5 out of 5 – You do need to mix the nail polish well before you apply it, but this gives really good coverage with one coat.
  3. Quick Dry – 5 out of 5 – Literally completely dry in one minute with the LED Light.  No issues with smudging or anything like that.  After the light, the nails are dry and hard.
  4. Long Lasting – 0 out of 5 – Hours after applying, this polish came off in one big piece.  It definitely didn’t adhere to the nail properly.  It may have been user error, but the same thing happened to the nail I used this on on the other hand after a day.
  5. Inexpensive – 3 out of 5 – $5.99 for the polish is fine, but you will need to make a one time purchase of the LED light  for $10.  I couldn’t find just the light at Target, but it is available through Amazon.

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure – $6.59

  1.  One Step Process – 4 out 5 – There are no additional products required here, however, two coats are best.
  2. Good Coverage – 4 out of 5 – You get a nice sort of pearl finish after a second coat.  This goes on easily and is nice and shiny.
  3. Quick Dry – 3 out of 5 – This polish was definitely the longest to dry.  After ten minutes it was still slightly tacky.
  4. Long Lasting –  4 out of 5 – On day four, this polish had a small scratch in it and by day five it was much worse.
  5. Inexpensive – 3 out of 5 – At $6.59, this one came in at the second most inexpensive price. If it scored a little higher on the drying factor, maybe I wouldn’t mind paying so much.

And the Winner IS:

The Sally Hansen Extreme Wear Polish was the clear winner for me. It had no cracks or chips whatsoever after the five days and the color and shine looked like they did on day one.  My only regret is that I wish I had chosen something other than the green shade I chose.  It’s cute, but not something I would wear often.  I’m actually thinking about splurging on this package from Amazon:

That’s ten random colors for $16.90 (you don’t necessarily get all metallics), which makes them about $1.69 each!  I still can’t believe the best of all five was also the least expensive. This was a really fun challenge!  What should I test next??

And, in case you are wondering, I’m currently researching nail polish craft projects for the polishes that didn’t fair so well.  Especially the gorgeous blue color from Defy & Inspire.  I can’t just let it go to waste, can I??

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