As a September baby, I'm partial to all things autumn. School supply shopping, football, coats that are warm but not too warm. And, of course, fall colors. Browns, warm reds, deep greens, gold ... you know the drill. And as pretty as those hues are on tree branches (and, let's be honest, leaf piles in the street), they also look great at the tips of fingers and toes.
I'm talking about nail polish, one of my favorite ways to change up a look fairly quickly without too much work. (I know, I know, it does take a steady hand a few tools to achieve a smudge-free DIY manicure, but I promise it's worth it!) While color choice is definitely a major factor when it comes to polish, even more important is to make sure you're using a safe, 5-free brand.
Not sure what 5-free is? Well, in short, it means that the nail lacquer is without five major chemicals often found in conventional brands: formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, camphor and formaldehyde resin, all potentially dangerous ingredients that could disrupt your endocrine system and even cause cancer.
So here are the nine colors you should try out on your nails this season, all from healthy, 5-free brands. While the price points may be a little higher than your average drugstore brand, you're paying for healthy, chemical-free lacquer (and they're still cheaper than an average salon manicure!). Happy polishing!
O29 grand by tenoverten
One of the most popular green nail salons in Manhattan, tenoverten is killing it in the better ingredient game (not to mention their impressive collection of colors). I'm not sure if Grand Street sparkles like this eponymous polish, but the bronze is gorgeous and understated.
Soiree by Jin Soon
Did someone order a sparkle party? Developed by seasoned nail artist Jin Soon Choi, every single color in the collection is beautiful and lust-worthy. It's also incredibly durable for being 5-free.
Soleil by Julep
The yummiest molten rose gold color you could possibly imagine. This one also is quick-dry, so feel free to use your hands a few minutes after you paint your nails.
Grounded by Ginger + Liz
Opaque, charcoal grey that'll make it look like you dragged your hands through a fireplace (in the best way). One of the founders is vegan, so you can be sure all the polishes are the same (and cruelty-free).
Gravel Road by Mineral Fusion
Widely available at Whole Foods, Mineral Fusion is friendly on your wallet AND nails. Plus, this blue-grey shade will bring back memories of warmer summer skies if you're pining for another season.
Toa by Zoya
Zoya is one of the OG members of the green beauty game — they've been making cleaner polishes for almost 30 years — so they know what they're doing. This shade is perfect if you're looking for a slightly metallic grey.
Mister Pookies by Aila
Aila was founded by a doctor, so you can be sure the ingredients here are as good-for-you as nail polish can be. This grey-purple mashup is warm and cozy, just like your favorite scarf.
Little Plum Dress by ella + mila
Cute bottle aside, ella + mila is chip-resistant, quick-drying and PETA-certified (in addition to being 5-free). Add an extra coat for a deeper plum color.
Red Red Wine by Pacifica
5-free wasn't enough for Pacifica; this polish is 7-free (it also omits xylene and ethyl tosylamide from the formulation). Like the name suggests, this color is like 10 tiny glasses of Pinot Noir on your fingertips.
4. ARMY GREEN
Swamp Thing by Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics
Not only 5-free, OCC polishes are also vegan and cruelty-free. This dark, swampy green is spooky and edgy, and just one of the brand's awesome colors.
Feed the Rich by Smith & Cult
The bottle on this Smith & Cult color is almost as pretty as the "opaque dark green teal" it contains.
Red Head Cactus by PRITI NYC
With over 100 shades to pick from, PRITI NYC is a no-brainer for finding the perfect ruby. Match your nails to the fall foliage with Red Head Cactus.
1941 by lacc
As the name suggests, this ruby red will let you play out all your Old Hollywood starlet fantasies.
Respect by Deborah Lippmann
Your nails will thank you for this: not only is it 5-free, it's also enriched with biotin and green tea extract. The brick red color is perfect, too.
Volume VI by NCLA
I'm partial to polish, but NCLA also makes non-toxic nail wraps for easier cleanup. This color evokes mochas by a fireplace (full disclosure: all the coffee-colored polishes remind me of beverages).
Hot Toddy by Scotch Naturals
Because it's water-based (as opposed to solvent-based), Scotch Naturals is made with even fewer "baddies" than many other non-toxic polishes. This dark greige color looks good enough to drink.
Hot Chocolate by acquarella
acquarella is really doing something special in the non-toxic polish game: it's totally water-based (you can wash off mistakes up to a minute after application), odorless and vegan. Plus, it's named after the most delicious cold-weather beverage.
Trallop by butter LONDON
Another 7-free brand on the list, two coats of Trallop will give you caramel-hued, super-clean-looking nails.
For Real by Sheswai
Not only is Sheswai polish 5-free, its packaging is unique in that the caps are made from sustainably harvested wood. Doing good while being good for you.
Cameo by RGB
A slightly pink take on a classic nude nail, this RGB shade will give your nails a nice "flush." It's also gluten-free, cruelty-free and made right here in America.
Orage by CHANEL
Surprised? That's right: haute-couture powerhouse Chanel is producing DBP-, formaldehyde- and toulene-free polishes (not quite five-free, but pretty good for such a high-end brand).
Shimmery Stars by treat collection
This Berlin-based line wants to make your nails glamorous (and safe), and the soft shimmer in this midnight blue shade will do just that. Plus, the shape of the handle makes it incredibly easy to apply, and it dries quickly.
Azzurrum by LVX
Navy is the new black, and Azzurrum will help you channel your inner witchy side without getting too dark. LVX is also very picky with their colors (they only release a few new ones every season), so you can be sure this navy is going to be amazing.
9. BURNT ORANGE
Soft Coral by Suncoat
Aside from the color, the best part about Suncoat is that it peels off easily so you don't need to mess with any nail polish remover.
No. 51 by côte
Leave it to LA-based côte to come up with a killer desert-esque shade. If you like all things pumpkin, this is the fall color for you.
curios by rms
New to the nail polish game, but an old favorite in the non-toxic beauty world, rms polishes are (as is to be expected) fantastic. This shade is like terracotta in a bottle.
Photos by Stocksy, courtesy of brands