What Makes Nail Polish Vegan? The World’s Leading Pro Nail Brand, OPI, Just Cracked the Code.

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What makes nail polish vegan? The world’s largest professional nail polish brand, OPI, can tell you. 

OPI has just launched Nature Strong, its first vegan nail polish range inspired by and including natural elements—and it’s extensive. The range, which is made from non-toxic ingredients including sugar cane, wheat, potatoes, and clay, features 30 new shades in shimmer and creme finishes. The products are all certified by The Vegan Society.

Clean, vegan beauty demand

Demand for clean beauty is on the rise. According to data released earlier this year, the global market for clean beauty products is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 12 percent over the next six years, from $5.4 billion in 2020 to more than $11 billion anticipated by 2027. The market for vegan products is even larger; a recent report anticipated the category will exceed $20 billion by 2026, up from $12.9 billion in 2017.

Much like the rise in sustainable plant-based alternatives to meat, eggs, and dairy, consumers are seeking out beauty products not just void of harmful chemicals, but those free from unethical animal ingredients, too. 


“We could say the beauty landscape is changing, but let’s be real, it already has,” OPI explains on its blog. “Natural and clean products are no longer a nice-to-have in the industry, they are an expectation, and clients are becoming savvier and savvier in nail health. What does that mean? They’re conscious of what ingredients go into their products, so it’s no surprise that this has become a global obsession that’s growing rapidly.”

What Makes Nail Polish Vegan?

The absence of animal ingredients makes nail polishes vegan. But what animal products are used?

Animal ingredients common in nail polish can include what’s often labeled as “pearl essence”. This is also called guanine, which is derived from fish scales and helps to provide shimmery depth. 

Other ingredients include carmine, a red coloring that comes from a beetle shell, oleic acid made from animal fat, and shellac, a resin from the lac bug that can also help create shine. 

There’s also the issue of animal testing. Ingredients or finished products that undergo animal testing—either for efficacy or safety–are not considered cruelty-free. Some beauty brands will tout their products as cruelty-free, meaning no animal testing, but those products can still include animal ingredients. Products labeled as vegan generally mean no animal ingredients and no animal testing. 

OPI says that despite the absence of animal ingredients, the products still perform as well as conventional polishes.



“While many clients have made the switch to cleaner beauty, they have found that it comes at a cost–the products they know and love aren’t performing as well as their newer, fancier, natural versions, making them have to decide what’s more important: A polish that holds up? Or one that’s packed with quality ingredients?”

The biggest point of difference for OPI’s Nature Strong is that compared to other natural brands, it “actually performs,” the brand said. “You can confidently say every shade offers up to 7 days of wear and shine, the hue won’t dull, it’s easy to apply and remove, and it dries fast. All around, it wears and performs like our original Nail Lacquer formula.”

Inspired by nature

OPI isn’t just turning to natural ingredients on the inside of its cleaner formulations in the new Nature Strong line, it’s reflecting them outward, too, with colors and shades taking inspiration from the elements and plant life.

The shades, which include  Simply Radishing (subtle mauve), Make My Daisy (bright yellow), We Canyon Do Better (pastel pink), and Spring Into Action (light purple), are inspired by water and sunshine, as well as plant matter such as fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

The vegan polishes are also “9-free” which means it’s free of ingredients like Formaldehyde and Parabens.

Lead image courtesy of OPI


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