Truth is, finding the perfect nude for your skin tone is all trial and error, but we do have guidelines from the pros to make your journey a little bit easier. If you have fair skin, try a creamy pinkish nude with blue or yellow undertones to counteract redness in your skin, like this one from Jenna Hipp’s collection with RGB Cosmetics HIPPXRGB Nail Sheer in S1, which is created for specific skin tones and undertones. For medium skin tones, a peachy-beige like Deborah Lippmann’s Nail Lacquer in Naked works well. If you have dark skin, opt for coffee-colored hues such as Laura Mercier Nail Lacquer in Bare Mocha.
Once the shade is applied, check the coloration of your skin near the cuticle — that’s the easiest way to see if the shade complements your skin tone. “The cuticle should be the color of your skin, and if you put on the wrong color, the cuticle looks pronounced,” explains manicurist Deborah Lippmann. The idea is if your cuticle looks red, then you chose a color with too much blue in it. Whereas if your cuticle looks dark, then you chose a shade that’s too pink.
For most (us too), even if you stick to the guidelines, customization is key when it comes to finding the perfect nude shade. The more creative you are with your application, the better. For example, Lippmann recommends layering shades and playing with texture to bring surprising results. “A matte finish is very fashion-forward, whereas sheer would be more elegant and crème shades are casual, but chic,” she states.
Oh, and one more thing in case you’re not DIYing: Find your nude before hitting the salon and bring it with you. You never know how long polish has been sitting on salon shelves. “The only way to ensure the quality of your manicure is to ensure the quality of your products,” states Hipp. And the only way to find your new nude is to try out a new shade — so get going, already!
Photographed by Gunnar Larson