7 Pro-Approved Red Nail Polishes That Look Good On Everyone

It might come as a shock to some people that the first nail polish to ever hit the mass market wasn't a bright shade of cherry-red — it was pink. It wasn't until the early 30s, when deep red lacquers popped up on the fingers of European socialites, that Revlon responded to the trend with a collection of crimson polishes. By the 40s, when leading ladies could show off their manicures in technicolor, red nail polish had cemented itself as an iconic part of American culture.

But it's been a long time since Rita Hayworth showed off her fiery fingernails in 1941's Blood and Sand. These days, you can walk into a salon and spot hundreds of reds — varying in undertone and finish — proving that picking just one is far harder than it was nearly eight decades ago.


So, how do you know which red is the right red? Ahead, nail pros share the ten polishes that work for everyone.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

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The pro: Betina R. Goldstein, editorial nail artist

The polish: Essie Berry Naughty

Call us cliché, but we love nothing more than a wine-red mani. Goldstein says this burgundy-red is flattering 365 days of the year — and especially in the spring and summer.
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The pro: Gina Edwards, celebrity manicurist

The polish: Essie Fifth Avenue

Edwards is a fan of vibrant, electric reds — especially this classic from Essie. She says the shade dresses up any outfit and brightens all skin tones.

Editor's Note: Fifth Avenue is no longer available, but Essie's Russian Roulette is almost an exact dupe.
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The polish: NCLA Rush Hour

Thanks to the blue undertone, this polish is the quintessential blood-red. According to Edwards, it's just as intense on your nails as it is in the bottle (which explains why it's constantly selling out).
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The pro: Sarah Gibson Tuttle, founder of Olive & June

The polish: Jin Soon in Jasper

Glitter nail polish shines especially bright in the summer, and this metallic burgundy is no exception. Tuttle's advice? Never say no to a wash of micro-shimmer.
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The polish: Essie Rock the Runway

Tuttle's true red pick is festive, bold, and available in a formula that will last you all summer.
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The polish: Chanel Rouge Puissant

Leave it to Chanel to put a chic spin on a timeless classic. Tuttle describes this favorite as a little deeper than your traditional red, but still sexy and elegant.
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The polish: Olive & June in CV

When Gibson couldn't find the exact true red she was looking for, she made her own. "A perfect cherry red is always a classic. It looks good on all nail shapes and lengths," she says. 

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