Welcome to fall, a season of new energy. We’re shopping for upcoming weddings and holidays, getting haircuts, going back to school or the office full time. When it comes to choosing something as seemingly mundane as a nail polish color for November and December (Scorpio season!), we're being mindful about the tones we're gravitating towards and why — because even more fun than painting your nails is doing it with intention.
Here, our editors and resident nail experts get into the specific shades we're wearing right now and why we think that the tones will resonate this fall. Maybe a naked nail speaks to you like it does me. It could be that you're more of a dark-nail person, in which case, we see you, too. Whatever draws you, we have an IG save and a polish rec for an upcoming manicure.
Whether you're trying to quit an expensive gel manicure habit or just trying to get your natural nails to a healthier place, the bare-nail manicure is a win. After speaking with a nail dermatologist, I started treating my nail care like my skincare, folding in gentle chemical exfoliation (with glycolic acid), hydration (with cuticle oil), and the right tools (a diamond file). Now, I like my nails almost completely bare — but just with a barely-there gloss.
You've heard of the "red nail theory" — the idea that you're more likely to get asked out if you're wearing red nail polish (this is entirely unfounded, btw). This fall, the trend has evolved into the "black nail theory," where black nail polish is said to promote "confidence" while being "bold and daring with a hint of mysteriousness." Plus, it goes with everything.
Tones of brown always trend in the fall season. Brown polish is dark and neutral but warmer and more dimensional than black. While it can be tricky to find your perfect shade of brown, nail artist Joelle Rodriguez recommends trying a different tone on each nail and then checking the mirror for the right fit. "A lot of my clients also get up and look in the mirror so they can see themselves wearing the polish, rather than just looking at their hand," Rodriguez explains.
Something about a jammy red — a strawberry or cherry shade — that feels a little unexpected in the fall. Sure, you'll see the burgundy and red-wine tones, but brighter reds feel fresher. To add something extra, you can sheer our your red polish by mixing it with a clear base or top coat to get a thinner, almost jelly consistency.
When you bring color theory into nail polish, you can probably guess what a shade of blue is going to evoke: calm. I gravitate towards stone blues in the fall and winter because they break up the monotony of dark shades but also don't feel too bright that it's pastel or neon. Here, I would use Essie Toned Down (this is a gray blue that also looks great on toes), OPI Force of Nailture (a bit darker), or Orly De-Stressed Denim (a mid-wash denim).
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