I can't count the number of times I've tried on
"nude" shoes, lipsticks, or lingerie that were meant for someone at least five skin tones lighter than me. Not all nudes are equal, and that goes for nail polish, too. Luckily, there are a lot more options in that department — which actually makes narrowing down the right one a bit of a challenge.
Manicurist Gina Viviano likes to take the "
mannequin-hand" approach. "I choose the shade that blends in the most with the skin tone," says Viviano. "It feels a bit rudimentary, but there really isn't a shortcut to finding the best shade." She recommends holding up the bottle to the back of your hand before testing it on your nails.
Ahead, Viviano breaks down her go-tos for every skin tone, so you can save yourself all that extra swatching.
If You're Fair...
Pick up a sheer nude with a tinge of pink; it will flatter your undertones rather than washing you out. "Look for formulations that don't have an opaqueness to them," Viviano advises.
Nail Polish in Nude Pink No.101, $23, available at
This popular nude-pink elongates hands, says creator Jin Soon Choi.
Nail Polish in Nostalgia, $18, available at
If You're Medium...
Finding a nude with a touch of purple, mauve, or lilac will flatter those with medium skin, says Viviano. "The color you're looking for should actually blend with the tone of skin surrounding your nail, which is slightly darker than the back of your hand," she says.
Nail Lacquer in Tickle My France-y, $8.79, available at
This sugary nude also hits a sweet note for those with warm undertones.
Nail Lacquer in Toasted Sugar, $36, available at
If You're Olive...
"You want to look for for colors that remind you of coffee with cream," Viviano says. So, beige is your best bet.
Nail Polish in Naked, $18, available in
"Go for very warm undertones," Viviano says. "This where you can find formulations with a little more opaqueness to them." This cinnamon color hits the sweet spot.
Nail Polish in At The Barre, $11.50, available at
If You're Dark...
"As a general rule, the darker the skin tone, the more opaque the color [should be]," Viviano says. "This just helps to disguise the whitish free edge of the nail." This shade looks like rich caramel on nails.
Smith & Cult
Nail Polish in Feathers & Flesh, $18, available at
Smith & Cult
This brand does no wrong when it comes to finding bases that work for all skin tones. Their polishes, which range from Nude Beige to Chocolate, are no exceptions. This particular one has a warm golden undertone — making it the perfect choice for medium skin.
Nail Lacquer in Nude Light Brown, $12,50, available at
If You're Deep...
"Again, look for a shade closely matching the slightly darker tone of the skin surrounding the nail," Viviano says. Rich espresso-colored hues always work wonders.
Infinite Shine 2 in Linger Over Coffee, $11.88, available at
"I would describe this color tint as a dark nude with a warm hints," Viviano says. Plus, it goes on sheer if you're looking for something more natural.
HIPP x RGB
Nail Tint in T4, $4.50, available at
Here's another brand that really knows its neutrals. Brown and Bougie looks rich in-bottle, but it's quite build-able while painting on. Try one coat for a sheer effect, two or three to make a statement.
Nail Lacquer in Brown and Bougie, $8, available at
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