Top 9 Breathable and Water-Permeable Nail Polish Brands for Healthier Nails

The fact is that nails require exposure to water and oxygen for them to remain healthy. But, wearing nail polish that is not water-permeable and is full of chemicals can often damage the nails. In fact, nail polish can attribute to poor nail health, as covering the nail in a non-porous film inhibits its ability to breathe. This can gradually lead to the weakening of the nail bed.

close up of hands with painted nails, holding pastel coloured macarons.

Excitingly, beauty experts have developed a water-permeable nail polish formula that can actually allow your nails to breathe. This type of product is a great option for those who enjoy wearing nail polish but want to prevent dry, brittle nails.

Keep reading as we reveal how water-permeable polish can allow your nails to be both healthy, yet colourful.

What is Water-Permeable Polish? 

Also known as breathable nail polish, Water-Permeable polish is a lacquer which contains a specific type of polymer that allows air and water vapour to pass through the surface. The idea is that this allows the nails to get the necessary nutrients they need to stay healthy whilst allowing you to have a pretty manicure.

How does it Work?

Traditional nail polish is made up of neat, tight molecular bonds, so water molecules cannot pass through. Whereas, Water-permeable polish is a lacquer that has similar technology to that of contact lenses.

The breathable formula of Water-permeable nail polish contains a specific type of polymer and has a staggered structure. This allows the water and air molecules to slip through small spaces. With air and oxygen able to pass through the nail bed, it helps to nourish them and promote healthy nails.

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A person applying nail polish, possibly Water-Permeable.

Is it better for Your Nails?

Your nails don’t necessarily need to ‘breathe’ as they get all their oxygen and nutrients from the blood flow to the nail bed underneath. However, regular use of nail polishes tends to block both water and air vapours from coming in contact with the nail.

So, if you’re a constant polish wearer, this can contribute to dry, brittle or weakened nails. It can make the nails more prone to breakage and even turn them discoloured if worn constantly.

Where your nails are hydrated by their natural oils, which keeps them flexible and healthy, traditional polishes can trap these oils and weaken the nails. This is down to the lacquer preventing them from breathing or being exposed to fresh air, which can then lead to fungal infections.

The use of water-permeable formulas, on the other hand, allows for the natural movement of the oils through and then off the nail. Using this nail-friendly-formula can result in your nails staying hydrated, thus being less likely to be dry and brittle. The breathable formula instead allows for the necessary molecules and nutrients to penetrate through the nails to improve the health of them. Instead of suffocating and drying out your nails, it actually allows them to breathe right through the colour.

Breathable nail polish formulas contain fewer harsh chemicals than traditional products. What’s even better is that breathable polish formulations also contain nourishing ingredients to further help keep your nails healthy and strong.

So, it acts as a treatment as well as a colour.

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close up of a persons hand showing red fingernails with the word 'love' written across them in white polish, possibly Water-Permeable.

Is the Quality Different to Regular Polish?

Contrary to popular belief, a nail polish being water-permeable does not increase the likelihood of it chipping or peeling easily. Also, there is no compromise in shade, coverage, durability or shine.

Both formulas provide a coat of colour; it’s just the underlying formulas that are different. It’s important to note that, not all breathable nail polishes are alike. Just like regular nail polish, this will depend on the brand and the formula they use.

Other Reasons to Switch to Water-Permeable Polish

It’s Easier to Apply

Since breathable polish allows air and water to pass through, you don’t have to use a base coat! With a shorter routine, this leads to an easier application with faster results.

Faster Dry Time

The dry time of your manicure is reduced since air can penetrate through the nail polish. This results in having to wait less time, as well as dodging that extra time in which your polish may smudge!

Can Muslim Women Use it?

Manicures can pose a problem for Muslim women; however breathable nail polish could help some find a balance between beauty and faith.

close up of red painted nails, possibly Water-Permeable, laying on a pillow of flower petals.

With prayers five times a day, and a pre-prayer ritual that requires washing the hands and arms, traditional polish has been mostly off-limits. This is because it prevents water from making contact with the nails. With the lacquer covered nails, you may be unable to clean them properly. Furthermore, you could have to remove it completely.

Water is unable to permeate traditional nail polish, and because it creates a barrier, the nails aren’t considered clean enough to pray with. This results in individuals having to remove their nail polish every time before prayer, which may mean removing and reapplying the polish several times a day.

Consequently, the majority of Muslim women who pray regularly tend to refrain from using any type of nail polish. This is why breathable nail polish is causing such a stir. The formula of the breathable polish is air and water permeable, allowing for water to make contact with the nails for the ritual of washing before prayer. This is, therefore, an option that can be used by Muslim women who take part in wudu – the prayer ritual performed beforehand, that requires water to touch every part of the body.

While there is still much debate among Muslims as to whether or not these products live up to their claims, the possible use of water-permeable polish is still a major step forward for the industry.

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single hand with painted black and nude nails, possibly Water-Permeable, with a mosaic background.

Water Permeable Polish Brands

Every brand makes a unique formula, which means varying degrees of coverage and performance. Like all cosmetics, finding the brand that’s right for you is about personal preference.

Nailberry Nail Polish

Former winners of Stylist’s best beauty award, Nailberry doesn’t compromise on quality. Their L’Oxygéné range offers fabulous shades of breathable nail polish that provides a long-lasting and salon-quality finish. 

The polishes have added a UV filter to ensure lasting pigment without discolouring the nails. It should also be noted that they are free from five major chemicals, which makes it suitable for pregnant women, children and most allergy sufferers. In addition to this, it’s also vegan-friendly and cruelty-free.

close up picture of a woman holding a flower patterned mug whilst wearing black nail polish on her long nails.

LENA Nail Polish

If you are looking for a more affordable option of breathable polish, then this is the brand for you. You don’t have compromise quality or choice with Lena’s generous selection of breathable nail polishes.

With an extensive variety of vibrant shades in glossy and matte finishes, you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice. In fact, each nail polish has even been given a fun, quirky name so that customers can remember the shades.

The nail polish formula from Lena ensures a smooth and easy application, as each polish has a high-quality brush to apply the product. This result in the perfect finish every time. Their range of professional, high-end salon-quality nail polish formulas has both vegan and halal approval, not to mention that you’ll also find every shade that you could possibly need. Lena aims to give customers a range of gorgeous shades that range from subtle hues to funkier shades.

Inglot Cosmetics

Inglot Cosmetics was the first brand to introduce water-permeable nail polishes to the beauty market. The O2M Breathable Nail Enamels, created to care for healthy-looking and beautiful nails, revolutionised the cosmetics world. 

The brand has over 80 shades available in a range of different colours, textures, formula and finishes, all to keep your nails looking beautiful. In fact, 95% of their products are made in-house within their own facilities to ensure quality ingredients and fair prices.

Inglot has even collaborated with Jennifer Lopez to create a limited-edition collection in partnership with the brand which created her favourite shades of polish. The JLo collection includes four shades of chic nude polishes that are all vegan and cruelty-free formulas.

Orly Beauty

close up on a person holding a ORLY Breathable bottle of nude-like nail polish.

Orly beauty has a selection of 18 nail polish shades in their breathable collection. Packed with pigment, these high-quality polishes contain Argan oil for extra hydration and smooth coverage. Excitingly, the long-lasting formula prevents chipping and peeling, to keep your manicure looking amazing for longer.

The products offer the strength-boosting benefits of nail treatment and colour with Advanced Oxygen Technology. In fact, ORLY Breathable Colour includes Argan Oil, Pro-vitamin B5 and Vitamin C to help improve hydration, stimulate nail growth as well as help heal damaged nails.

Maya Cosmetics

Breathable, vegan and cruelty-free, Maya cosmetic’s range of nail polishes are as ethical as they are beautiful. With stunning, fast-drying colour selections and premium packaging, this nail polish brand is a must-have!

The range has a selection of vibrant colours including both glossy and matte topcoats, resulting in a variety of combinations. They even have many metallic and glitter polish options, which are hard to find for water-permeable brands.

This premium cosmetic brand has been approved as halal and ablution friendly. In addition to this, it is also 9-free, meaning that the products do not contain any of the 9 commonly used harmful ingredients found in typical nail polish. These include toluene, formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and camphor.

close up of individual holding a bottle of maya nail lacquer, with the nail polish displayed on their nails.

Talyah London

London based cosmetic company Talyah is the nail polish brand you need if you love classic, elegant shades! With no harsh chemicals or ingredients added to their products, they’re easy to remove, as well as, vegan-friendly! These nail polishes are what will give your nails a professional, salon looking finish.

Each product is also 100% halal and ablution friendly and is rich in pigment ensuring a long-lasting colour.

close up of hand, with fingernails wearing taylah london nail polish in a light-grey shade.

786 Cosmetics

786 Cosmetics is certified and verified by PETA as cruelty-free and vegan-friendly. In addition to this, is it also 100% halal and wudu friendly, making it suitable for Muslim women to use.

The founders were motivated to create a halal cosmetics brand because they recognised the profound need for beauty products that could be used by those who are Muslim.

786 polishes are named after cities around the world, as they ship internationally and have customers from all parts of the globe. 

According to 786 Cosmetics’ site, the water permeability does not compromise the polish and in fact, instead, this non-peelable formula lasts anywhere from 7 to 10 days with just one coat.

In addition to nail polishes, 786 Cosmetics also offers a clear topcoat and a soy-based nail polish remover that is made with almond essential oil. This type of oil is less harsh for your nails and can remove your polish more gently.

close up of hand, posing with 786 nail polish on and the bottle in the background, with roses and rose petals sprawled below.


LYN, which stands for ‘Live Your Now’ is a halal-certified nail lacquer brand. The brand’s lacquers were developed by French experts, all with the perfect blend of elegant art and modernity. While their polishes are healthier than regular nail lacquer, it doesn’t compromise on colour or quality.

Available in over 100 elegant and modern shades, this brand has an extensive line up of stunning hues for everyone. In fact, these lacquers have pigments that reveal their true brightness and vividness for ultimate wear. So, this is a great option if you are looking for vibrant, stand out shades.

The brush bristles are wide enough to cover the nail in a stroke or two for easy, quick application. As well as this, the polish is fast drying too, making it great if you want to apply a fresh coat quickly.

four bottles of LYN Ch2olor nail enamel.

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Vivre Breathe

If classic colours are what you are looking for, then this is the brand for you. Vivre Breathe has a range of cruelty-free, paraben-free formula polishes that come in a range of five classic colours. Their mission is to create chic and trendy premium high-quality products free of harmful ingredients

Their nail polishes glide on evenly and have high-pigment for rich, long-lasting colour. As well as being halal and wudu friendly, these chip-resistant, fast-drying polishes are produced in the USA. However, the brand ships its products internationally on orders of $45 or more. 

close up of a hand, with delicately painted nails, holding Vivre Breathable Water-Permeable Nail Lacquer.

How to Maintain Overall Nail Health While Wearing Nail Polish

Give Your Nails a Break from Polish

While water-permeable polishes may be better for your nails, it is important to give them the occasional polish break. So, try and retain from wearing polish every few weeks to allow your nails to recover properly.

You can even apply some cuticle oil to the nails to give them a hydration boost, keeping them nourished.

Don’t Pick at your Polish

Picking at your polish or biting your nails can take off the layers in your nail and damage them. If you want to remove the colour, then use a polish remover and a cotton pad.

If you want the colour to stay for longer, then a top coat can act as a shield and prevent any flaking or peeling off. 

It can be difficult but do try and resist the urge from picking off your polish when you see it coming off!

close up of a womans shoulder with her hand over it, with painted light pastel pink white nails, possibly Water-Permeable.

Apply Cuticle Oil to the Nails

Cuticle oil is a moisturising product for both your nails and cuticles. Using this kind of oil helps to hydrate and restore the nail health. It can also help to protect your nail and cuticle against trauma.

To use it, brush the oil onto your nails or use a cotton pad to dab the product onto your cuticles. Then, massage it into the nails to help increase circulation to the nail bed and stimulate new nail growth. Try and use it once a week to improve the health and appearance of your nails.

If your nails are brittle and dry, breathable nail polish could make a huge difference. So, give your nails a break between your gel and acrylic manicures and nourish them with breathable formulas.

To learn more about nail polishes that are better for your nails, click here to read our article on ‘Top 20 Vegan Nail Polish Brand for the Perfect At-Home-Manicure.’ 


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