Before you get exposed to some of the best nude nail polishes and neutral tones, it is a good idea to learn how to pick your poison. While nude nail colors are as user-friendly as can be, there are definitely shades that suit some skin tones better than others. Being cognizant of which neutrals suit the tones and undertones of your skin is fundamental in creating an elegant and graceful nude manicure.
Nude nail polishes are designed to accentuate your skin tone. However, if the shade clashes with your skin tone, it can actually contribute to a sallow or dull skin complexion. The manicure will lack the ‘wow’ factor that you are trying to achieve with your polish job. Speaking more bluntly, if the shades of your polish don’t flatter your skin tone, then your nude manicure is effectively a waste of time.
Not all nudes are created equal, and it is vital that you choose a polish that will complement your unique skin tone and undertone. Below, we will provide you with some tips for choosing a flattering nude nail color for your skin tone.
In this article:
- The Undertone Game
- Best Nude Nail Polishes for Warmer Undertones
- Best Nude Nail Polishes for Cooler Undertones
- Best Nude Nail Polishes for Fair Skin
- Best Nude Nail Polishes for Medium Skin Tones
- Best Nude Nail Polishes for Olive Skin Tones
- Best Nude Nail Polishes for Dark Skin Tones
- Best Nude Nail Polishes for Crowd Pleasers
The Undertone Game
What on earth is an undertone? Like the subconscious shadow side of your skin tone, the undertone can be downplayed or accentuated with different pigments.
To identify your undertone, look at the color of your wrist veins. If you have blue veins, you have a cool undertone. If your veins are green toned, then you have a warm undertone.
Another fool proof test is to conduct a fabric test. If you look best with whites and blacks, then you have a cool skin tone, and if you look best with brown and off-white colors, then you have a warm complexion.
Remember, women with the same skin color don’t necessarily have the same undertones, so it is vital that you conduct one of these tests to discern your personal undertone.
An important color fact to keep in mind is that opposite shades on the color wheel will accentuate your undertone. If you have a yellow undertone a purple shade (which lies opposite on the color wheel) will accentuate the yellow shade of your undertone.
If you don’t want to exaggerate the natural undertone, then avoid a color that lies directly opposite on the color wheel. If you want to play up the undertone, then choose a color on the opposite end of the color wheel. Red and green are opposites on the color wheel as are blue and orange.
Best Nude Nail Polishes for Warmer Undertones
Warm undertones should avoid ashen greys or cool greys and beiges. These nude nail colors serve to wash out warmer skin tones and they contribute to an undesirable washed out, dull skin tone.
For women with a medium skin color, a tan or sand brown can be immensely flattering. Just ensure the integrity of the polish is warm and brown based rather than cool and taupe-grey based.
Best Nude Nail Polishes for Cooler Undertones
Women with cooler undertones should go for beiges and soft pinks. These shades offset the redness that cool-skinned women are susceptible to. A pink and beige nude nail color pairs well with cool skin tones because it matches the shade of the skin without washing out the complexion or making it look pasty.
Best Nude Nail Polishes for Fair Skin
Women with fair skin often have blue and pink cool undertones. To complement fair skin, choose a neutral nail polish that enhances the cool tones of your skin. This will flatter your skin by creating a refreshing and radiant appearance.
The ideal pigment will look bright and lively and will improve the vitality of your complexion. If you are fair-skinned with a cool undertone, avoid yellow-tinted nude nail polishes at all costs.
If you have fair skin and warm undertones, on the other hand, you can absolutely use a yellow-tinted beige nail polish. A soft blush pink flatters fair-skinned women with both warm and cool undertones.
Apricot-tinted nude nail colors, and those with a grey cast, are flattering to cooler fair skin tones. Grey can serve as an effective contrast to the pale shades of fair skin.
Avoid browns or deep taupes, as these can look garish against a pale skin tone. Caramel and chocolate browns can look muddy and dirty and that is the opposite effect that you’re going for with a nude manicure.
Women with fair complexions should avoid near-white nude nail colors, as they can contribute to a pasty-looking complexion. Beige, pink, and taupe-based nudes are more flattering, as they can liven up the skin tone.
Generally speaking, a softer and more pearlescent finish is more flattering than an opaque finish. For a bolder nail look that still retains its neutral integrity, go for a deeper rose pink nude.
Best Nude Nail Polishes for Medium Skin Tones
Medium skin tones are a blend of cool and warm undertones. The best neutrals play up both of these shades.
Peach is a wonderful nude base to play with because it tends to be on the warmer side. The warm tones of the peach color flatter the warm undertones of the medium skin tone. Avoid overtly orange-based neutral nail polishes, as these veer into the vibrant territory, which defeats the purpose of creating a nude look.
Some women veer more on the cool or more on the warm side of the undertone spectrum. If you have cool medium skin, a soft blush pink is immensely flattering. If you have a warm medium skin tone, then a deep taupe will be flattering.
Purple-based mauves are also super flattering for warm medium skin tones, as they liven up these undertones. Avoid a yellow-based nude nail color, as this can lead to sallow looking skin.
Light tan browns and taupes are flattering on women with medium skin because they can lengthen the appearance of the fingers. A medium brown color pairs beautifully with a tan and is sophisticated for an everyday look.
Up the glam factor with a terracotta rose color that combines tones of pink and tan. This terracotta color is trendy and will help you create a luscious and sophisticated nude manicure.
Blush pink is another winning shade for both warm- and cool-undertoned medium skin.
Best Nude Nail Polishes for Olive Skin Tones
Olive skin tones are similar to medium tones in that they combine cool and warm undertones. If you have olive skin, a cool nude nail polish will flatter your skin and help you create a more vibrant complexion.
Caramel and taupe nudes are a perfect choice for olive skin tones, as they play up the natural warmth and neutralize the cooler tones. A cappuccino, deep beige pigment plays up the warmth of the olive skin and can also provide an appealing and subtle contrast, particularly if you choose a creamy beige a few shades lighter than your skin.
Pink is perfect for olive skin tones. It enhances the warm undertones of the skin. A soft peach is another compelling and delicate color that will flatter and warm up the undertones of an olive skin tone.
Don’t be afraid of going more opaque. Generally, the warmer the complexion, the better it can hold a deep, highly pigmented polish.
Best Nude Nail Polishes for Dark Skin Tones
One of the concerns women with darker skins encounter is that collections curated for a range of skin tones often lack thoughtful pigments that create that ‘wow’ factor for women of color. Instead, the shades feel flat and uninspired.
However, nudes are no longer limited to shades of pink or beige, and now include deeper browns and taupes to flatter darker skin tones. Women of color no longer need to settle for bland beige nail polishes or pinks.
Darker skin tones often have warmer undertones. Shades of caramel, honey, and chocolate suit these skin tones, as they play up the warmth and enhance the radiance of the skin tone.
A deep brown color also serves to elongate the fingers and creates a structured and polished look. Taupe-browns with a hint of rose pink can create a delightfully feminine silhouette, as well. For deep dark skin, a mauve creates a warm and glowing manicure aesthetic.
If you have a dark complexion with a cool undertone, then you should find a nude nail color exactly like your nail bed to create a crisp and sophisticated silhouette. A dark complexion with a warm undertone is best paired with a gold-tinged neutral like a tan or sand brown.
Avoid shades of grey and beige, as they can wash out your skin tone and create an ashen, dull complexion. A frosty baby pink nude is not the best choice for an elegant nude manicure, as it can contribute to a fake, Barbie Girl style nail look.
If you are looking for a contrast, then by all means, pick up a light pink. Just be cautioned that this will not result in the polished and understated neutral nail look you are shooting for.
Best Nude Nail Polishes for Crowd Pleasers
Indecisive gals, unite. There are universal nude nail polishes that flatter nearly everyone. Neutral champagne colored nudes flatter most skin tones, as they are understated but dimensional enough to improve the vitality of various complexions. A shimmering finish feels opulent but subtle – a winning combination!
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