This post may contain affiliate links.
Red nail polish is a classic. It is sexy, sultry and downright alluring. Red nails can make just about any outfit look dazzling. It also comes in so many different shades that it becomes pretty confusing when you try to pick the best red nail polishes to match not only your personality, but also your skin tone. After all, not every hue complements every woman.
So how do you pick the right one? This guide will help you decide exactly what type of red nail polish will be the best look for you. After all, it’s not about to go out of style so you can stock up on the latest manicure trends with ease.
Best Red Nail Polishes for Every Skin Tone: Contents
- 11 Best Red Nail Polishes to Get Now
- The Evolution of the Red Nail Polish
- How to Pick the Right Red Nail Polish for Your Skin Tone
- How to Remove Red Nail Polish Stains from Your Fingers
- Red Nail Polish Tips to Keep in Mind
At the end of the day, there are too many red nail polish shades and too many brands to choose from. We have compiled a list of some of the best red nail polishes you can add to your collection. Which one is your favorite?
1. Deborah Lippmann Red Nail Polish in Respect
A Deborah Lippmann nail color, this is a gorgeous bold red developed by the jazz singer herself. The brand is against animal testing and offers vegan products. It is available at Nordstrom.
2. Oribe Nail Lacquer in Bloodstone
Incredibly beautiful, this darker high shine red nail lacquer is sold through Net-a-Porter and belongs to the Oribe line. It has a long-lasting formula and a glamorous finish, giving you glossy nails for up to two weeks with ease.
3. Dior Vernis Gel Shine Nail Lacquer in Rouge 999
Dior’s vernis gel shine lacquer is long lasting, with the less pronounced Rouge 999 perfect for the fall and winter months. The red nail polish tint is on the neutral side, while the gel effect is not made with any harmful ingredients and can be easily removed. It is available through Sephora.
4. Tom Ford Red Nail Polish in Bordeaux Lust
Tom Ford has some truly lovely nail colors, with this red beauty no different. This particular red nail polish shade features a sangria red with cooler undertones, meant to work well with all part of your life, day or night. It is also made to last long and prevent chipping. Get your bottle from Net-a-Porter!
5. NARS Nail Polish in Jungle Red
One of the best red nail polishes, Nordstrom carries this iconic NARS nail color. It features a highly glossy finish and is made in the United States. The name says it all really, and the color is highly addictive.
6. Chanel Red Nail Polish in Emblematique
Chanel makes incredible red nail polishes, and this one is no different. With a near perfect star rating, Nordstrom sells this long-wearing nail color. It is 5-free and made to improve the quality of your nails while giving you incredible red nails. It also won an award for the best red nail polish in 2017.
7. Guerlain La Petite Robe Nail Color in Red Bowtie
A gorgeous Guerlain hue to add to your list of red nail polishes to grab, this one is just too lovely to pass up. Who’d have said that a top perfumer brand could so beautifully turn also to cosmetics? You find this shade from Nordstrom, too.
8. Pretty Vulgar Nail Liquor in Scarlett Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne would have approved of this hue to match with his Scarlet Letter. Available at Sephora, there is something quite beguiling about this interestingly designed Pretty Vulgar red nail polish. It wears long and even has a built-in top coat to boot.
9. Smith & Cult Red Nail Polish in Kundalini Hustle
Now this is not your typical red nail polish color, but the orange tint is just perfect for the skin tone that can pull it off. There is so much to love about this Smith & Cult product, down to the bottle itself. Also, available at Net-a-Porter, it’s a branded, high-quality lacquer that we simply must have.
10. SEP Liquid Sticker Nail in Red
Have you heard of a nail color that can be applied and removed like nail stickers? Meet SEP’s Liquid Sticker Nail, available at Nordstrom. It’s a unique product that delivers vivid and glowing results. The argan tree kernel and macadamia seed oils also ensure healthy nails.
11. Margaret Dabbs London Nail Polish in Snap Dragon
For truly fabulous hands and feet, this incredible Margaret Dabbs London red nail polish color is worth every penny spent on it. High in shine and enriched with Vitamin E and Wild Rose Botanical Extract, this bold and royally rich shade is named after an English flower. It even ensures a lasting wild rise scent. It is beyond flattering and very much worth the grab. Get yours from Net-a-Porter!
For so many women, particularly those who have become quite successful in their lifetimes in whatever sphere they have risen in, red nails are the epitome of powerful femininity. But where does this idea come from? Why do we equate red nails with sexy, strong women? And why is it that most women you talk to will generally prefer the red nails, much like they prefer the red lipstick?
Technically, red nails have been around forever, since berries and blood are pretty accessible coloring agents. In Ancient Egypt, red nails signified high ranks in society, with Nefertiti having been the inspiration for the trend. The stronger the shade of red was, the more power the person wearing it yielded.
Even in Ancient China, red and black nails replaced the traditional gold and silver as worn by the royal families, while if commoners dared to use them, they might be sentenced to death.
It is believed that nail polish itself was invented in 3000 BC in what is known today as China, with the ingredients including beeswax, egg whites, gelatin, and vegetable dyes. However, there are reports that might push the invention of nail polish even further back, to areas such as India and Babylonia, where henna and solid gold were used, respectively.
Around the turn of the 19th century, scented oils would be used to tint the nails before polishing them off. And then came the 1920s with their car paints that gave rise to the type of nail polish we know today.
In the 1920s, Rita Hayworth’s red lips and red nails as seen in cinema became the trendsetter. In 1932, Revlon perfected the nail polish idea and became the first seller of the modern polish. In 1934, Cutex sold nail polish for 35 cents, which was only available in three shades of red.
During World War II, women across America painted their nails red as a show of patriotism while wearing blue overalls as they worked on building tanks, planes and replaced their men in factories. The 1950s were obsessed with scarlet red nails and matching lipsticks.
They would make a comeback in the 1980s as the bold, statement colors were all the rage. And then the ‘90s would bring with them the dried blood vampy color that Nefertiti had loved so much thousands of years before.
Today, we love the classic red nail polish as much as anyone else, owning a wide variety of shades to play around with throughout the year.
Many decades have passed since Revlon came into existence with its gorgeous red nail lacquers. While the trend is still going strong, it is important that you pick up a bottle of red that is the right shade to match your skin tone, aside from the personality correlation.
How do you do that when there are hundreds of hues to choose from? First, you will need to figure out what type of skin tone you actually have: cool or warm. Are you fair or are you dark? Then, look through this good to help you.
A good tip to keep in mind is to use blues with fair skin, brighter reds with olive and medium, and purples with dark.
Best Red Nail Polishes for Fair and Cool Skin tones
If you have a cooler skin tone, you can move towards warmer red nail polishes and corals alongside the cardinal and crimson that look astounding. Stay away from darker tones though, especially those that border on black. A rich raspberry is a good alternative.
Best Red Nail Polishes for Fair and Warm Skin Tones
Red nail polishes that have a little bit of a blue base are great to create the perfect contrast on your nails. You want to have your hands looking crisp and clean, which means classic is just perfect.
Just steer clear of warmer colors, since they will only emphasize the ruddiness that is all too common to fair skin. As with the cooler tones, raspberry is just great. Don’t go too dark.
Best Red Nail Polishes for Medium and Cool Skin Tones
For those of us that have a sun-kissed skin tone no matter the season, there are a large variety of red nail polish shades that look great. The cooler tones are not as common as the warmer, but pairing them with a violet-red should be perfect. This brings out your beauty, and a touch of shimmer only adds to the appeal. Golden iridescence never did anyone harm.
Best Red Nail Polishes for Medium and Warm Skin Tones
This is where you can really play with the red nails. Bright pinks and corals look especially flattering, but it is the red with a hint of blue that really stands out. Wine colors, like burgundy nail polishes, can also look especially pretty.
Best Red Nail Polishes for Olive (Warm or Cool) Skin Tones
Ladybug reds anyone? Or shall we opt for fire engine? The yellow and green undertones of your skin allow you to wear bright red nail polish colors with ease. Vibrant and bold colors are your thing here, and you cannot go wrong even with a tangerine-based red.
Best Red Nail Polishes for Dark and Cool Skin Tones
When you are dark with a cooler base, burgundy and chocolate red nail polish colors are going to look amazing on you. Just don’t look towards the metallic reds, such as bronze or copper or even golden. You want to shine in a deeper, vampier red.
Best Red Nail Polishes for Dark and Warm Skin Tones
Chestnut red nail polish shades look pretty amazing here, while you should go for dark, but not too dark because of your warmer skin tone. Don’t do blue bases, and play with the burgundy to your heart’s content.
An opaque purple-red will also look truly beautiful on your lovely digits. Don’t touch the translucent shades at all, as that will just dull you out.
Before we get to some useful tips on how to work with red nail polish, you might have noticed that red polishes sometimes stain the nails. How to remove red nail polish without leaving behind any residue?
You will need cuticle oil or lip balm, a cotton ball instead of a pad, and the nail polish remover. You can prevent staining your skin by covering the sides of your nails along the skin and on the cuticles with the oil or balm.
Acetone nail polish remover will give the best results as you soak a cotton ball in it, and then tear off little pieces to use on each nail bed. The trick here is to start from the cuticle as you press down on the nail and move to the tip. One swipe should be enough and each hand will likely take up a maximum of two balls.
The results are exactly what you needed. Clean skin around formerly red nails.
As for getting rid of any red nail polish stains from your fingers, there are multiple ways to do this, which are:
• Create a mixture of lemon juice, baking soda, and olive oil, and scrub it on your nails with a clean toothbrush. Wash your hands afterwards, and apply a nourishing hand cream.
• Add a few slices of fresh lemon in a bowl of warm water, and soak your nails in it for 1-2 minutes. Afterwards, using some toothpaste and a wet toothbrush, scrub your nails gently, and let the toothpaste sit for 1-2 more minutes. As you wash your hands, apply coconut oil for skin to nourish your nails and hands.
• Just soaking your nails in a bowl of water with lemon juice squeezed in it will also help you get rid of red nail polish stains from your fingers.
• The same way a hydrogen peroxide bath will also remove any red stains from your nails. Just soak your hands in the mixture for 10 minutes, and then apply some coconut oil on your clean hands to nourish them.
• Scrubbing your nails with some peroxide toothpaste is another fantastic hack that works instantly.
Now that you have found the perfect red nail polish shade to match your skin tone, here are some tips to keep in mind.
• Don’t store your nail polish in the bathroom. The fluctuating temperatures and humidity will likely reduce its lifespan of normally two years. Keep it in a dry and dark place for optimal results.
• Washing your hands with soap before applying the red nail polish will ensure a better pigmentation and stronger bind, particularly if you have used a good base coat to protect your nails from yellowing as well.
• Placing hands in the freezer will help your red nails dry faster if you do not have a fast-drying lacquer.
• Adding multiple rings to your finger in a stacked style gives your red nails a bit of a boost.
• Nail stickers that blend in nicely will make your red nails look pretty amazing. Plain is a great option.
• If you want to make your red nails eccentric but charmingly so, opt for a combination of textures such as matte, shiny, glittery and in slightly different hues for a great effect.
• Nail art on red nails, particularly longer square nails, looks quite exquisite. We are talking about the hand-painted style. Black and white on red create a great contrast combination.
• Color blocking on a single or multiple nails with pastel hues especially can create a great attraction.
• Early nail art meant leaving the moons and the tips uncovered by polish. Today, it is quite trendy to leave the moon, and color the rest in a deeper red shade. Oxblood is certainly in style for this.
• The best way to display your red nail polish is by placing magnets on the backs and lining them up on a magnetic strip you place on the wall. You can easily organize and pick the shade you want at the moment without extra clutter or the need for specific nail polish boxes.
There are many fun ways to play up a red nail, but one should also be mindful of the seasons. While spring is all about brighter red nail polishes, especially on short nails, summer calls for bold, fall looks best with a more brownish shade, and winter nail colors are all about the dark, the deep and the classic cherry.
Creamy shades are great anytime, but the shimmers and glitter nail polishes are best kept for the holidays.
Photos via @essielienchen, @hausofcolor, @blondiechicblog