What’s A Good Nail Polish Color? 5 Manicure Devotees Weigh In

Photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images.
Welcome to 2023, where the beauty rules are, there are none. We think of trends as ebbs and flows in the collective energy and the ins and outs are totally subjective. However, when it comes to choosing something as seemingly mundane as a nail polish, we're being mindful about the colors we're gravitating towards and why — because even more fun than painting your nails is doing it with intention.
Here, our Refinery29 editors get into the specific shades we're wearing right now and why we think that the tones will resonate this year. Maybe a glossy but 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.

Sheer Gloss

"I'm in a short-nail era and the only polish I really want to wear is two coats of sheer pink. The goal is to give the look of bare nails, without my nails actually being completely unpolished because I want to cover the matte-ness and white spots. One of my favorite glossing shades is OG Sheer Pink by Glosslab, which adds a tiny tint; I also like the Dior Nail Glow, which does a similar thing — evens out my nail and adds shine — but is $20 more expensive. If I'm at the salon, I might add art, a teeny dot at the cuticle, like this, or I'll do a skinny French. - Megan Decker, Beauty Editor
Polish to try: Glosslab OG Sheer Pink

Classic Red

"2022 was the year of experimentation when it came to my nails. I tried all the latest trends, from chrome to velvet and everything in between. In 2023, I’m returning to my go-to and I think a lot of people will too — what’s better than a classic red manicure? Jumping off the popularity of the red nail theory, I think we’ll be seeing a huge resurgence of the tried-and-true shade because not only does it look elegant, but it also makes you feel sexy and confident. Take Lily James at the Critics Choice Awards as an example. Chanel Nail Artist Betina Goldstein was inspired by the iconic Audrey Hepburn when choosing this shade. 'Red is sophisticated, yet youthful,' she shares. That’s definitely my vibe for 2023." - Sara Tan, Beauty Director

Pine Green

"Pine green, forest green, national park green… call it what you will, but I’ve never received more compliments on my nails than when I’m rocking this deep shade. It works on all nail shapes and lengths, of course, but I find it looks coolest on short square or squoval (square with rounded corners) nails. OPI’s Leaf By Example occupies a cozy space between muted teal and fresh, foliage-esque green, so it’s wearable all year round — not just in the winter." - Jacqueline Kilikita, Deputy Beauty Director
Polish to try: OPI Leaf By Example


"I went through a pretty intense blue nail phase last year — it was almost a compulsion— and while I wouldn’t shy away from a big, bright bold color, I’m loving a plum shade as a transition into my full Red Nail Polish era. To me, a plum is the marriage of magenta and navy, two shades I love to wear on my nails as it is. And because it has so much red, blue, and pink in it, plum serves well for options when it comes to colors in accent nail art, too. I may not like plums in real life, but I love them on my fingers." - Amanda Mitchell, Senior Beauty Writer & Stories Creator
Polish to try: Smith & Cult Analog Fog

 Watercolor Burgundy

"Normally, streaky polish is something we aim to avoid — but something about J.Hannah’s sheer Glacé polishes feels so right. The first of the lineup is Gamay, an appropriately-named burgundy that perfectly evokes your favorite glass of red; that is, after you’ve finished it. Inspired by wine-stained lips, the polish formula is intentionally watercolor-like — one coat offers a sheer wash of tint, and multiple (thin!) coats will intensify the color payoff." - Karina Hoshikawa, Senior Affiliate Writer
Polish to try: J.Hannah Gamay
Shop our polish picks, below:
There is a lot of product out there — some would say too much. 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, but if you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

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