Whether you’re after classic elegance or a manicure that will match with every outfit on your next summer getaway, a high-gloss, nude polish is never a bad idea. But, when the hue is slightly off, much like a nude lipstick, it can make skin look washed out instead of tan and vibrant. Luckily, there’s a two-second trick that will make picking the perfect shade for your skin tone easier than ever, and it doesn’t require swiping every shade onto your fingertips in the middle of Sephora.
Once you’ve narrowed your nude polishes down to a few top contenders (make sure their undertones differ if you’re not sure what your skin’s undertones own are), Liliana Pennington, director of education for LONDONTOWN, says the trick is as simple as holding each bottle up against the middle of your palms. Why? Because, according to the polish expert, your palms best represent your overall skin tone (even if you’re sporting a summer glow). “If the nude shade looks good against your palm, then it’s a good match,” she says. “If not, pick something else.”
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If you have the same overall skin tone as your girlfriend next to you, but the polish that looks killer on you makes her skin look sallow, Pennington explains that this is because nudes (and skin tones) are all about the undertones, and they can make a world of difference. “You can have two women with medium-to-tan skin, but one may have pink undertones and the other olive, so a polish that looks good on one won’t necessarily complement the other.”
According to your skin tone, keep these tips from Pennington in mind: Fair skin pairs best with nudes boasting cool blue undertones, medium skin tones look good with pink-y beige colors to help brighten the overall tone, olive tones should choose nudes with beige and brown undertones, and dark skin can pull off pretty much anything. If you’re not 100-percent sure of your skin’s undertones or you’re in a pinch and need to buy a polish online, look for a polish that’s known to complement many different skin tones (they’re rare, but they do exist). “LONDONTOWN’s cult-favorite hues, Mauve Over ($16) and Teatime ($16), flatter multiple skin tones, which is why they are universally appealing,” Pennington says.
The bottom line: Before buying—or applying—a nude polish, make sure to take a look at how it looks against your palm, first. If it looks vibrant, you have the green light; if it pretty disappears into your skin and does nothing for it, you’re onto the next one.
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