It’s hard to forget ‘90s cult brand Hard Candy. Their edgy, unexpected nail polish shades were adored by teenagers – and loathed by moms – everywhere. Unlike their more demure counterparts, Hard Candy specialized in nontraditional colors and uber glitter formulas. Their popularity is due, in part, to marketing: Hard Candy was the definitive rock ‘n roll polish choice. And if you were lucky enough to score a bottle, you too, would be considered a bad ass rocker chick. It’s safe to assume that the brand was behind many schools, including mine, banning outrageous polish hues in their dress codes. We would be remiss not to mention the completely awesome ring that came on every bottle, despite never really being the right size. But somehow it felt like a two-for-oner. Buy the lacquer, get the ring for free.
Hard Candy seemingly disappeared in the early 2000s (RIP), but was brought back in 2009 by Walmart. Unfortunately, the second generation left much to be desired, so here are our current favorite polishes to fill that deep Hard Candy void:
The founder of Hard Candy recently launched new lacquer brand Smith & Cult ($18). The line features staples as well as unexpected colors, and can we discuss that packaging? Ogle-inducing, but we wouldn’t expect anything less from these ladies.
Confession: I have a weird obsession with sheer nail colors. I just love the clean, simple look that they give my nails. Lately, I’ve been rotating between these four perfectly sheer colors from the Deborah Lippman Whisper Collection ($18 each).
To be honest, I first tried ella+mila polish ($11) solely because of the logo; I absolutely adore elephants. I was pleasantly surprised by both the wear and shine of the brand. Even better, they are 5-free, meaning made without commonly used toluene, DBP, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and camphor, so healthy for my nails and the environment!
If you want the richest, brightest, and most opaque colors on the market, look no further than JINsoon ($18). The polishes are so shiny you may consider skipping a topcoat. All JINsoon products are 5-free as well.
As a recovering gel-mani addict, I was thrilled when CND came out with Vinylux Weekly Polish ($11). As long as you use it with the suggested Vinylux Top Coat, you’ll truly get a full seven days of wear.
Tip: keep your cuticles moisturized to prevent premature peeling of nail polish. I’ve been favoring Lush Lemony Flutter Cuticle Cream ($17) layered under m-61 Vitablast Vitamin C&E Hand Cream ($19) to keep my hands and nails healthy during these dreaded winter months.
Casey Sharbaugh currently resides in New York City and works in the fashion industry. In her spare time, you can find Casey spinning, trying new beauty products, or browsing the city for the best ice cream cone. Find her on Twitter at @caseyhshar