In case you haven't noticed, we veer a tad mani-obsessed over here at WWW, and nothing brings out our passion for polish like the changing of the seasons. Fall is here (and winter is coming!), so we've been toes- and fingers-deep in all things fall-nail inspiration. We've talked ourselves blue about the best gel polishes for fall if you can't stand chips, the "ugly" nail color that's reaching fever-pitch popularity, and even the October-specific shades that feel festive, not cheesy.
We work hard to make sure all of our nail coverage is inclusive, but here, we're celebrating the best fall nail colors to enhance brown and Black skin, specifically. To get some expert-led guidance, we reached out to four celebrity nail artists, who regularly work with legendary women like Beyoncé, Joan Smalls, Naomie Harris, and Paloma Elsesser (and so many more), and gleaned their top nail color picks for fall. However, this isn't to say dark skin tones can only wear certain hues this season. Wear whatever fall nail color you please! But getting some inside strategy courtesy of the best manicurists in the world isn't an opportunity we'll ever pass up.
"There isn't one specific shade I don't think is flattering on dark skin," notes Mimi D, an L.A.-based editorial manicurist and nail artist to stars like Tabitha Brown, Ciara, Skai Jackson, and Tess Holliday. "Because everyone has different undertones, I think it's important to test out as many shades as possible to find out which shades don't work for you."
Keep scrolling! Below, our expert panel of nail pros is sharing the specific bottles of polish that look *especially* stunning on dark skin tones.
OPI Nail Polish in My Italian Is a Little Rusty
"This vibrant bronze nail color has coppery tones, which add a shimmering contrast against brown and deep skin tones," shares celebrity nail stylist Gina Edwards, who works with clients such as Laura Harrier, Smalls, and Elsesser.
Emilie Heathe Nail Polish in Big Night Out
Edwards is also a fan of Emilie Heathe's 10-free formula and says, "This medium purple nail color works well on light-brown to medium skin tones and adds a beautiful warmth to the skin."
OPI Nail Lacquer in Alpaca My Bags
"Darker skin tones should stay away from medium to light gray nail colors that don't have a blue base," notes Edwards. "These types of shades can make your skin look dull, so I recommend opting for a moody gray similar to this blue-ish hue."
Pro tip: I am a true believer in layering and mixing—there are times you just can't achieve the ideal color. If you are in between shades for a selection, try mixing two shades together in an empty bottle. Always start with the lighter shade in the bottle, and add just a tiny bit of your dark color, and then mix. Repeat these steps until you achieve the color of your dreams.
Editor's note: The exact Dior shade Edwards recommended is no longer available, but this dusty-blue pick from OPI is an exact match.
Pear Nova Nail Polish in Michelle Our Mama
Nails Inc. Nail Polish in Meet Me on Regents Street
Looking for a flattering shade of rich, glossy burgundy? Logan specifically recommends this stunning (and fast-drying!) nail color from Nails Inc. to complement darker skin tones.
LaPierre Cosmetics Nail Polish in No, It's Navy!
Logan tells us she's a big fan of this blue-black shade of navy, but to keep it super flattering for dark skin, she recommends steering clear of shimmering versions of the popular fall hue.
"I'm not always a fan of colors that are shimmery or metallic on darker skin—I almost always prefer to see solid shades," she says.
Pear Nova Nail Polish in Kissu Miss You
"Kissu Miss You is a vibrant shade that's reminiscent of the color-changing leaves of fall," says Mimi D. "I love this for deep skin tones because it will pop!"
Pro tip: If you love a polish shade but you want it to pop more, add a layer of white polish prior to your color, and that will help it look more vibrant.
China Glaze Nail Polish in Mustard the Courage
According to Mimi D, this classic shade from China Glaze is the perfect shade of mustard yellow. "It was released two years ago, and it's still one of my favorites," she says.
Pro tip: All polish looks better on well-hydrated skin—be sure you're using a cuticle oil multiple times a day!
Ella+Mila Nail Polish in Bags Are Packed
"This is an amazing jewel-cobalt shade of blue," gushes Mimi D. "Jewel tones look amazing on darker skin, and this is an excellent shade of blue to try."
Editor's note: The exact OPI shade Mimi D recommended is no longer available, but this royal-blue pick from Ella+Mila is an exact match.
OPI Nail Lacquer in Samoan Sand
In addition to working with celebrity names like Harris, Ashley Graham, Beyoncé, Smalls, and many more, celebrity manicurist Mo Qin owns the renowned luxury nail spa Oh My Nails. If you're on the hunt for a flattering sandy shade of beige, she recommends this best-selling nail color from OPI."This is a light, sandy, peachy-beige cream polish. It's the perfect fall color for warm, medium-brown skin tones and is very easy to wear," Qin says.
J.Hannah Nail Polish in Ghost Ranch
"I love this color," Qin tells us. "I use this color for so many photo shoots—the burnt-orange shade is ideal for fall days when you want to be a little bolder."Pro tip: Colors with a hint of orange are flattering for darker skin complexions. And it’s always fun to try some nail art! If you don’t want anything too complicated, using the same color in different tones on each hand or alternating colors can be different, too.
CND Nail Polish in Brick Knit
"Red nail polish is always classy for fall!" continues Qin. "I love a soft red like this one from CND because it's gentle on the eye but has the prettiest romantic undertones."
Products for the perfect mani, every time:
Lock in your nail color and keep your fingers gleaming with this top coat that won't budge.
Traditional nail files can be harsh on nails. Opt for a crystal file for a smoother finish. Plus, they're easy to clean after use.
If you hate the smell of acetone and want your nail polish removal process to be as easy as possible, this is the nail polish remover for you. Layer this cream over nails, let sit, and watch the magic happen.
For baby-soft hands that mimic the feeling of a parrafin treatment, smooth this hand cream on post-mani.
The secret to a professional-looking manicure? Well-groomed cuticles. Glide on this cuticle oil whenever your cuticles feel dry.
This story was published at an earlier date and has since been updated. Next up, Long-Nail Lovers, Rejoice—This Hybrid Manicure Gives You the Best of All Worlds
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.
Olivia Rodrigo and Madison Beer Both Wore This $12 Nail Polish to the Grammys
It's a classic.
By Kaitlyn McLintock
J.Lo and Selena Gomez Just Predicted 2024's Biggest Manicure Trend
So en pointe.
By Eleanor Vousden
The Exact 2 Chanel Nail Polishes Behind Margot Robbie's "Barbie Doll Hands"
New manicure inspo, unlocked.
By Kaitlyn McLintock
These Golden Globes Beauty Looks Just Set the Standard for Award Season
It's a very high standard.
By Kaitlyn McLintock
I Don't Say This Lightly—These Are the 31 Best Things I Got on Amazon This Year
Out of dozens of orders.
By Allyson Payer
Hailey Bieber and J.Lo Swear By This One £19 Lip Liner That Can't Stay in Stock
It's a must in my handbag, too.
By Eleanor Vousden
I Buy My Gifts From Shopbop and Nordstrom—These Are the Ones I'm Ordering First
Seriously good presents ahead.
By Grace O'Connell Joshua
I'm a Pop Culture–Obsessed Beauty Editor—These Nostalgic Products Give Me My Fix
This was fun.
By Marie Lodi