Find the Proper Polish for Your Skin Tone

Deciding what color to polish your nails is easy. Picking a shade that complements your skin tone is where it gets tricky. “What works on one woman may not work on another,” says Rebecca Isa, color expert for Zoya nail polish. “Variations in tone are what make a color look good or not.” Here’s how to find skin-flattering polishes that won’t make your hands look washed out.

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Taupe

Warm Taupe: If your skin is warm, stick with toffee and coffee colors, like Zoya Dea, a creamy light brown that’s not too dark. $8, zoya.com

Cool Taupe: Nudish taupe colors are 
a bit edgy. CHANEL 
Le Vernis Nail Colour in Particulière is a cool taupe that dries to a creamy 
finish. $27, chanel.com

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Red 

Warm Red: Red polish, and variations of it, 
are classic. Orangey reds look best on those with more warmth in their skin tone as do red polishes with a yellow base. Julep Nail Color in Jackie, 
a cherry-red color, is void of 
formaldehyde, toluene and DBP, making it an eco-conscious choice. $14, julep.com

Cool Red: Light skin looks great in cool, bright shades of red. Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, executive vice president and artistic director of 
OPI, says women with fair-colored skin should steer toward reds with blue undertones, which complement lighter skin. “They also make nails pop.” If your skin is light, pick a strong blue-based red, like Orly Unlawful. This works especially well for 
cool skin tones. $8.50, orlybeauty.com

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Purple

Warm Purple: “Pale 
periwinkle hues look great 
against warmer skin tones,” 
says Weiss-Fischmann. Boasting warm undertones, 
butter London Nail Lacquer 
in Scoundrel is a purple-
meets-mauve shade. 
$15, butterlondon.com


Cool Purple: Purple hues with blue undertones are most 
flattering to lighter 
skin. “Purples are very popular right now,” 
says Weiss-Fischmann. China Glaze Tart-y 
for the Party is 
a true lavender color. $7.50, 
chinaglaze.com

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Pink

Warm Light Pink: “The look of a pale pink shade against warmer skin really makes the color stand out,” says Isa. OPI nail lacquer in 
I Theodora You is a soft pink with just enough warmth. $9, opi.com

Cool Light Pink: French manicure 
colors have a very light and sheer intensity. Pick a shade that complements your skin (instead of 
washing it out) like essie Vanity Fairest. This soft pink color has a bit of shimmer, too. $8, essie.com

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Polish Musts

Don't care for taupes, purples, light pinks or reds? The following polishes are some of our favorites this season. And they're great for pretty much any skin tone.

Long-Wear Color: Dior Vernis Nail Lacquer in Lucky is a warm coral color that leans more toward bright pink. $24, dior.com

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The Perfect Orange

Deborah Lippmann's orange Lara's Theme accentuates bronze skin. $17, lippmanncollection.com
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Rich and Dark


Dark berry Revlon Vixen is laced with silk-protein to smooth out the nail’s surface and prevent bubbles and streaking. $5, revlon.com
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Bright and Punchy

Cool undertones in L’Oréal Paris Colour 
Riche Nail in Crazy for Chic create a must-have pop of pink. $6, lorealparisusa.com
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The Multitasker

The all-in-one Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Fiery Island dries to the 
perfect cool shade. $8, sallyhansen.com
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Smooth Finish

The striking dark hue of Le Métier 
de Beauté Limited Edition Nail Lacquer 
in Plum Pirouette offers a glossy finish. 
$18, neimanmarcus.com