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Kerry Washington Says This Nail Polish Is Her ‘Go-To Beach Color This Summer’

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Kerry Washington Says This Nail Polish Is Her ‘Go-To Beach Color This Summer’ featured image
Karwai Tang / Contributor / Getty Images

It’s officially #vaxedgirlsummer and salons are open and ready for our grand return. And this much-anticipated reopening isn’t the only reason OPI is celebrating right now: This year marks the brand’s 40th anniversary, and on a Zoom meeting today, cofounder Suzi Weiss-Fleischmann reflected on the early days. “The brand’s first product was Acrylic Nails, and I went up and down Ventura Boulevard in LA handing it out to nail salons, and they loved it.”

Then in 1989, OPI launched Nail Lacquer with 30 shades, some of which are still in the brand’s collection today. And if you’ve always been curious what OPI stands for, there’s a funny explanation: It actually stands for Odontorium Products, Inc, which was a dental supplier Weiss-Fleischmann worked with in LA when she was in the dental industry prior to her lightbulb nail moment. “We didn’t know better, so we took the initials OPI, and actually at our first trade show, we wore these buttons that said ‘What’s OPI?’ and that was the talk of the show.”

Joining in the celebration is actress and OPI creative ambassador Kerry Washington, who calls Weiss-Fleischmann “my First Lady of nails,” and became involved with the brand in 2016 to launch the Washington, D.C. collection during her Scandal days, though she’s been a fan since long before. “It [the collection] included so many beautiful shades, including a shade that was named for my daughter—Inside the Isabelletway. Also, the shade We the Female continues to be a brand favorite to this day and I’m so proud of that. I wore it for International Women’s Day, which was so fitting.”

Washington credits her mom with her love of nail care. “She is somebody who has taught me so much about self-care. She’s a retired professor, and she wasn’t a glamorous or flashy person growing up, but she would splurge every week on a manicure and she’d always take care of her hands and nails. I feel like getting my nails done is a ritual that I’ve learned from my mother and that I’ve taken on to help me feel good about myself. I tend to be more classic in my fashion and beauty space, but I love having fun with nails.”

This summer, Washington is ready to let her nails and toes experience the post-COVID sunshine, and has some specific shades in mind for their big debut. “I love Cozu-melted in the Sun—it’s such a beautiful pink for summer and it has such fun shine and sparkle, which I love. I’m definitely going to a beach, and I can see Cozu-melted in the Sun on my toes in the sand. It might be my go-to beach color this summer. It’s so feminine, pretty and soft, but it also has some magic to it.”

The yellow hue Sun, Sea, and Sand in My Pants from the Lisbon collection is another one of her go-tos this season. “It’s just so bright, and summer is a time to experiment more with color. It’s also really great for detailing too in nail art—it just layers so beautifully.” For pastels, she favors classic Gelato on My Mind, and for reds, “as a native New Yorker, of course Big Apple Red.”

In the summer nail trend department, Washington says there’s one she really wants to try. “One I’ve been seeing a lot that I haven’t tried yet is to make your nails look like berries—it’s very much the food-oriented trend. I keep looking at all the beautiful reds and pinks and feeling like I should make some strawberry nails. But I also really love the mismatched nails. I feel like everybody is really gravitating toward not having every nail look the same, and that for me is really fun, especially for summer. Anything goes—this is the time to play!”

Weiss-Fleischmann’s top picks this summer are bright-pink Strawberry Margarita, another classic, and purples and lavenders, which she says trending big right now: “I like Pompeii Purple when I want something a little deeper and more sexy; lilac has been the trend shade for spring and summer, and looks amazing on nails and toes. And I can’t forget Cajun Shrimp, which is one of the original shades from 30 years ago that was in the New Orleans collection and came from my love of Cajun food when I visited there.”

As far as gel versus traditional nail lacquer, Washington prefers a mix of the two. “I think that when I have more time, I like to do lacquer because then I can change more frequently. I like to be able to have that flexibility. But I do have to say that since entering mom life, gel is a lifesaver. As a working mom, if I have to sit around and have my nails dry for a long time, it’s just tough. And as a mom, you’re working with your hands all the time. I tend to do lacquer on my toes because I usually give those more time and I can put some slippers on and let them air-dry, but on my hands I tend to do gel.”

On a personal note, my all-time favorite shade, Let’s Be Friends!, also happens to be the most-googled OPI shade and was finally brought back due to popular demand (it was originally part of a limited-edition Hello Kitty collaboration and I was heartbroken when it was discontinued). So thank you OPI! 

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