Fact: These 18 Neutral Nail Colors Look Stunning on Brown Skin

There's nothing worse than taking the time to plan a trip to the nail salon and realizing that none of the shades leave you with that clean, polished look you crave. The process of selecting a neutral shade that complements a deep skin tone can be made that much more difficult when there's no immediate reference for how trending nude shades look on darker skin. No one wants to spend their appointment testing endless similar polish shades. 

As someone who's experienced that painful process firsthand and is a self-proclaimed manicure enthusiast, I'm always on the hunt for neutral nail colors that are versatile enough to be great on any skin tone and look absolutely immaculate on their own. Recently, I had the opportunity to go straight to the source and ask the ridiculously talented celeb nail artist Elle Gerstein for her go-to shades as well as her tried-and-true process for creating the perfect manicure. Gerstein has been behind the gorgeous nail looks of celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan, Storm Reid, Blake Lively, and Mariah Carey. 

Brown Girl Hands Neutral Nail Colors

(Image credit: @browngirlhands)

Her philosophy for achieving a clean, polished look for any manicure is to prep the nail and give it a great base coat. Her personal favorite is Butter London's Priming Base Coat. "[It] makes the nail have a good even base for sheer colors, as it will prevent and camouflage the streaking and discoloring," she explains. "A lot of the newer base coats are like concealers for nail problems such as white spots, ridges, streaking, and polish-stained nails, as they disguise and conceal so you can wear sheer colors and still look flawless." After giving your nails the TLC they need, it's time to move on to selecting your color. Keep scrolling to reveal the neutral nail colors I'm loving for medium- to deep-toned skin.

Pearly White

Show off deep skin tones by opting for pearly white polishes for a clean look. If you'd like to take it one step further and add a hint of eye-catching shimmer, try layering your chosen white shade with a sheer pearly polish like the ones below by JinSoon and Nails Inc.

Muted Camel

Looking to add some warmth to your look? Try a nail polish shade that's not quite orange or brown and has a rosy undertone to it. It can be applied as a sheer pop of color to the nail but is also buildable if you're in the mood for something with a little more punch.

Rosy Pink

Take it from Gerstein: Rosy tones are the way to go. When deciding on a shade, she looks for a hue that leans toward being sheer and brown to avoid it appearing white or opaque on darker skin tones. LeChat Nails' Nail Lacquer in Pure Confidence is her top pick.

Tasteful Taupe

I'll always love a good neutral, especially if it plays up the natural tone of my skin. For deeper skin, brown-based neutrals can serve as a versatile nude. It also helps that they're all over the place right now and range from warm, sandy tones like the one above to nearly mauve. There's one for everyone.


(Image credit: @oliveandjune)


Off-white shades are flattering on all skin tones but look absolutely ethereal on deeper ones. I'm loving both of these creamy white hues. One is perfect for everyday wear, and the other adds a dreamy finish to any night-out look.

Toffee Beige

Kick things up a notch by trying a toffee-beige shade for depth and dimension. Staying away from muddy brown can save your finished look from washing out your gorgeous skin. You're welcome.

Milky Pink

You can never go wrong with a pretty milky tone to bring effortless romance to your look. My favorites are ones that go on semi-sheer but give the nails a healthy-looking blush tone.

Chocolate Brown

Another one of Gerstein's top picks? A chic chocolate brown. Her favorite is LeChat Nails' Nail Lacquer in Coco Kisses, as it "looks very polished without competing with the skin." 

Maya Thomas
Assistant Beauty Editor
Maya Thomas is Who What Wear's assistant beauty editor based just outside of Seattle, Washington. Her strong love for all things beauty and fashion stems from a strong childhood interest in the fine arts. During a gap year spent in Paris studying the history of French fashion, she shifted her focus to English literature and journalism as a student at Loyola Marymount University with the goal of one day pursuing a career in fashion. After graduating in May 2021, Maya began freelancing for Parade.com as a contributing commerce writer while also building a following on her lifestyle blog, Itsmayalala.com. When she's not writing, Maya spends her free time catching up on reading, perusing art galleries, and enjoying a night out at the ballet every now and then.