My Friends Always Text Me from the Nail Salon—8 "Hit" Colors I Recommend

Whenever I get an SOS text from one of my friends, I know they're in one of several potentially dire predicaments. Scenario 1? They're on a bad date. We don't have to get into all of the logistics here but typically lots of voice notes, words of encouragement, and/or a rescue plan will ensue. Scenario 2? They've found themselves in an endless abyss of beauty products at a retailer like Sephora or Ulta and are in need of some helpful direction. Scenario 3? They're at the nail salon feeling completely overwhelmed by the hundreds of options sitting before them and inexplicably want me—someone miles and miles away from them—to make an executive decision on their behalf.

Thankfully, I'm great in a crisis, and I have eight or so go-to nail polish colors I'm personally obsessed with and that I love to recommend to anyone who will listen. (They're also the colors I get the most compliments on from strangers and loved ones.) Curious about the reveal? Keep scrolling for eight top nail polish colors I always screenshot and send to my friends when they're in a pinch at the salon.

1. Pearlescent


(Image credit: @themaniclub)

Believe it or not, I was prescribing shimmery, barely there tips long before Hailey Bieber catapulted them into maxed-out popularity. Since the results are neutral and subtle, it's pretty much impossible to have any regrets post-polish. Thus, they've become my go-to "I promise you won't hate it" recommendation. 

2. Espresso


(Image credit: @amyle.nails)

I'll choose brown nail polish over other popular neutrals like white, black, gray, navy, and beige any day of the week. I love the aforementioned hues, don't get me wrong, but a rich shade of brown is less expected, thus cooler, from where I'm standing. (Plus, it's so flattering.) Brown is the nail polish color my friends always say they never knew they needed until I told them they did. 

3. The Opposite of What They'd Normally Do


(Image credit: @browngirlhands)

Okay, this isn't a specific color per se, but it's a fun little experiment that has a 100% success rate in my experience. Basically, I tell my friends to choose the color that they would absolutely under no circumstances ever ask for in the past. It takes them outside of their comfort zone, and usually, it's attention-grabbing in a compliment-inducing, smile-evoking manner with which they become obsessed with. It's the little things in life, and the mood-boosting effect of trying something new is not to be underestimated!

4. OPI's You Don't Know Jacques!


(Image credit: @erin_jahns)

Meet the most famous taupe around and one of my favorite nail polish shades of all-time, hands down. (Pictured on my middle finger, above!) Everyone interprets the word "taupe" differently, but OPI labels this cult-loved shade as such, so I'll roll with it. Really, it's the magically flattering shade of brown-gray (dare I say a tiny bit purple?) that every single person needs in their life. It definitely leans more toward fall and winter, but I've been known to bend the rules and wear it in the spring and summer too. 

5. Barbiecore Pinks


(Image credit: @betina_goldstein)

The Barbiecore trend has really helped my case as of late, but for so, so long, it felt like the only shade of pink people wanted to wear on their nails was something sheer or ultra-light. (Ahem, ballet slippers.) No shade, but we can be more exciting than that, people! Whether it's a true hot pink or something candy-like and shimmery, it's one of my favorites to recommend.

6. Cinnamon


(Image credit: @amyle.nails)

Slightly more red than brown, I love to pull my friends away from the typical reds they gravitate toward and coax them into trying something more burnt and earthy. It's a color category I tried on a whim years ago and still love and come back to again and again throughout the year. 

7. Salt Lamp


(Image credit: @browngirlhands)

As you can probably tell, I love these in-between shades that strike a compromise between more popular nail polish colors like coral, cream, baby pink, and more. A muted apricot tone (similar to that of Himalayan salt) is a nice amalgamation between all of the above and is frequently commented upon and complimented by strangers when I wear it. 

8. Money Moves


(Image credit: @betina_goldstein)

We can also call this "elevated shades of green." I'm actually not into most verdant-hued polishes, but rich versions à la Chanel's shimmering olive (pictured above on celebrity nail artist Betina Goldstein) or a bold, chromey emerald feels luxe, expensive, and unique. It's the antithesis of boring while still coming across as polished—not tacky.

Next: It's a Fact: These Best-Selling Nail Colors Look Better on Your Toes

Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.