Something magical happens when I wear orange nail polish. Not just any kind of orange, though—it's a very specific, pumpkin-turmeric hybrid that apparently jumps right off my hands and into the eyeballs of friends and strangers, who are then powerless to throwing an "OMG, what color is that?" my way. It's a boost of color confidence I really need because aside from the occasional nail art moment, I tend to stick to pretty neutral nail polishes I know will complement my brown skin.
This personal hue development got me thinking about ways to help women of every skin tone consistently pick winning manicure shades. After all, selecting a flattering hue off the giant polish wall at the salon takes forever. (Why does it sometimes feel like a minefield of potentially disastrous results?) Thankfully, there are some simple guidelines to help make sure your chosen lacquer will accentuate your skin tone every time.
Keep reading to find out the best nail color options for every complexion, according to celebrity manicurists who know it all when it comes to shade matching. And be sure peep the curated selection of polishes, broken down into easy-to-shop categories, so you can have a guaranteed winner or two on hand for your next mani.
According to Sabrina Gayle, a London-based celebrity manicurist whose work has appeared in countless magazines and campaigns, there's a ton of versatility in terms of the colors that look great on the nails of darker-skinned people. "Bright greens, oranges, fuchsia pinks, and neons, as well as classic nudes with an off-white undertone all work. And don't forget a good orangey-red shade," she advises.
Mazz Hanna, celebrity manicurist and founder of her eponymous crystal-infused skincare line, agrees, adding that bright coral is another color that really pops on darker skin. In terms of nudes, she recommends selecting one that's a couple of shades lighter or darker than your skin. "If you pick something identical to your skin, you'll end up with mannequin hands, which is definitely a look, but not my preference," she comments.
Hanna notes that for those whose skin tones fall in the middle of the spectrum, jewel tones are always a hit. "I especially love deep, metallic greens and dark purples," she says. In terms of neutrals, Hanna reaches for soft pink, noting that these shades look nice on just about everyone, but especially those with olive skin.
Because of the golden tone that might already exist in the skin, Gayle cautions away from certain hues in that family of colors. "It is best to stay away from gold and terra-cotta tones, as medium skin tones tend to have an already bronzy glow," she advises.
Our experts both agree that dark, rich colors are their favorite ones to see on lighter complexions. "To me, nothing looks chicer than a short red or black nail on light or fair skin," Hanna asserts. "It's shocking and makes a bold statement of confidence." Gayle adds that corals, peaches, and purples are also winners here. When considering nude nails, keep the anti-mannequin-hands practice in mind and stick with shades that are either a couple of shades lighter or darker than your actual skin if you prefer to keep your look healthy and natural.