10 Tips for Picking the Right Nail Polish Color


Choosing the right shade of nail polish is all about deciding how you’re going to choose. That sounds like circular logic, but it’s true: there are several different ways to go about choosing a color, and the color you end up with is going to depend on which method you use to make your decision. Read on to find out a few easy tips for picking the right nail polish color.

1. Choose by occasion

This is the tried-and-true (and safest) way to choose a color. No matter how awesome you look in yellow, you probably don’t want to wear nails adorned with neon smiley faces to an interview at a prestigious law firm. Situations like that call for nude shades that look polished without drawing attention to themselves. Lunch with the girls may call for bright berries or playful designs, while, for a night out on the town, you can bring out your glitzy metallics.

2. Choose by season

This is another traditional way of choosing a nail color. Jewel tones make their annual appearance every autumn; reds, silvers, and golds show up for the holidays; pastels dominate the spring season, only to make way for summer’s brights and neons.

3. Choose based on skin tone

Have you ever borrowed a friend’s gorgeous new shade, only to realize that, on your hands, it looks completely different and decidedly less gorgeous? That’s because skin tone plays a big role in choosing a flattering shade of nail polish. As a general rule, dark shades make skin look lighter, while pale shades make skin look darker. That’s why that fuschia that looks awesome in the summer makes your hands look too pale in the winter. Undertones have a lot to do with it, too. Some skin tones look best with polish that has blue undertones, while some skin looks better with orange undertones. A quick way to tell is to test an orangey-red on one hand and a bluish-red on the other; you’ll be able to tell right away which is more flattering.

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4. Choose based on trends

While all trendy shades might not be flattering on every skin tone, you’ll get fashion props just for being stylish. Besides, there are so many shades of every color that you should be able to find one that works for you. Try going to a makeup counter and testing several different shades of this season’s hottest colors.

5. Choose based on your lipstick

Matching lips and nails used to be an unbreakable rule. But that’s been tossed aside in favor of complementary colors. Try a nail color in the same family but a slightly different shade than your lipstick, or maybe one from the opposite side of the color wheel so it will be complementary. Just stay away from clashing colors – berry lips with bright orange nails probably wouldn’t be a good pairing!

6. Choose based on your outfit

While women used to change their nail polish almost daily so as to match their clothes, contrasting (but not clashing) colors are what’s trendy now. Pair boldly colored clothing with nude polish, a navy suit with a bright berry polish, or a silver evening gown with shimmery gold polish.

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7. Choose between matte and frosted

Matte polishes are more traditional and work best for some business environments. Frosted polishes, on the other hand, make your nails look glossy and elegant. Try both a matte and frosted in your favorite shade to see which you like best.

8. Choose based on the length of your nails

In general, shorter nails can get away with bolder colors. While long, curved nails in neon green might be overwhelming, the same shade can look polished and trendy on shorter, shaped nails. Long nails, on the other hand, can be the perfect canvas for nude shades that might fade into the background on their own.

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9. Choose based on what doesn’t work

If you’re up for some trial and error and don’t mind redoing some failed manicures, this method will yield the widest array of shades. Choose shades you like and discard the ones that don’t work; it won’t take you long to figure it out. You can save some money by experimenting with department store samples. Just make sure you apply the trial shade generously; you really can’t tell much from one dot of polish.

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10. Choose what you like

Finally, you can toss all of those tips out and just go with what you like. Pick your favorite color… or three or four. If you love a particular shade, you’ll feel confident and beautiful, so chances are you’ll look beautiful, too.

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Nail polishes come in a nearly limitless palette of colors. With time, patience, and a sense of adventure, you can assemble a collection of nail polish colors that make your hands look fabulous. Which shade will you try first?