Let’s be honest: The only stressful part about getting a manicure is choosing what color to commit to for the next seven to 14 days. As far as cosmetic appointments go, that’s pretty painless! But then you turn and face the color wall. Now more than ever there are just so many beautiful, slightly different, and cleverly named colors to choose from. I’m still trying to determine if there’s really a substantial difference between OPI’s Russian Navy and Essie’s Saphire (two of my signature winter shades), but that’s not something I ever lose sleep over. It’s easy to change things up next time.
Unless I’m planning for a special occasion, my typical visit to the nail salon is as impromptu as my color selection. While I like to think polishes appeal to me at random, the truth is I’m not playing the nail salon version of color wheel roulette. According to our panel of industry experts, after polishing thousands of nails and handling hundreds of bottles of lacquer, each manicurist and salon owner can confidently declare which colors are more popular than others.
In fact, all three of our pros agree that 2019 was a big year for the classics: reds, neutrals, and classic French manicure colors were the most popular, followed by bursts of neon in the summer and moody ‘90s hues as the weather got cooler. Next year, however, promises to be a bit more experimental—after all, we are entering a new decade—so the time is right for a major shakeup, even if it’s only temporary. Keep scrolling for 19 of the most popular nail colors in 2019, plus 10 polishes that are predicted to be big in 2020 according to celebrity crystal nail artist Mazz Hanna, Varnish Lane co-founder and CEO Lauren Dunne, and Sarah Gibson Tuttle, founder and CEO of Olive & June.
Tops in 2019
1. Neutrals & Sheers
“It’s always neutrals season!" exclaims Tuttle. "Neutrals work for every occasion and are really forgiving as tiny imperfections are less noticeable," she explains. Plus, she expects the shade to continue to be big in 2020 and has plans to release some new Olive & June polishes in neutral shades soon.
We appreciate how Olive & June's neutral polishes are formulated to be warm or cool so you can choose what works best with your skin tone.
While the neon trend in the fashion world didn't last for more than a few seasons, these bright colors were still big with the beauty crowd, especially for summer manicures. We love the idea of using a few loud colors in one mani to make a statement, as pictured above.
Two of the top three most-requested nail polishes at Varnish Lane in 2019 were shades of gray. "It will always be on the most popular list and is a shade that looks great on all skin tones," says Dunne.
Hanna's celebrity clients ask for this timeless classic (and quintessentially perfect red) again and again.
5. Moody '90s
“We’re still not done with the ’90s nail moment," observes Tuttle. "We’ll continue to see darker polish colors reign supreme—black, or any variation on the hue like a chocolate brown, deep green, vampy plum, or midnight blue."
Remember when all the ’90s supermodels had brown manicures? Iconic.
“Metallics are incredibly versatile and can work all year round," says Tuttle. She recommends wearing your favorite metallic shade as a solid color or adding it as a nail art accent for a subtle sparkle.
All of our experts agree that classic blues will be big in 2020. Whether this has anything to do with the shade being named the Pantone color of the year, or just because it's a fun color to sport on your nails, they're all betting big on going blue.