Soft colors for spring? Groundbreaking, I know. When I think of spring, pastels come to mind, it’s only natural. Two springs ago, I declared to my mom, as I was entering the second half of my twenties, I would now be wearing “nice girl dresses,” think flowy Reformation frocks as opposed to tight Urban Outfitters minis. Perhaps I predicted the soft girl trend that’s now viral on TikTok. Soft girl nail colors feel like the manicure parallel to this shift. Moving from my beloved dark and ultra-bold shades to something more subdued feels like a rebirth right on brand with spring. “It’s all about embracing your divine femininity and the colors that match that energy,” says CEO and founder of sundays, Amy Ling Lin.
“Soft colors go with everything, and they’re more understated than the typical bright neons for spring. Your nails still make a statement without overpowering an outfit,” says founder of GLOSSLAB, Rachel Apfel Glass. Not to mention “softer colors look good on every nail shape and length.” Nailing Hollywood artist and author of Nail Art Deck Hang Nguyen predicts a lot of soft colors this spring like pastels and “shades that are a bit milky and less opaque. They’re great transitional colors coming out of winter. They’re soft and less harsh, easier and more forgiving to wear,” says Nguyen.
Founder of JINsoon Jin Soon Choi says soft colors are representative of “the 2023 shades that dominated the spring fashion shows, which are a harbinger of emerging trends,” and she would know, as her team did manicures for a handful of the shows. Additionally, nail artist Erica Hipp points out that “going softer is easier to wear and exudes elegance.” I don’t know about you, but I could use a sprinkle of elegance this spring. We asked top nail artists which shades we should expect to see trending so you can be ahead of the game.
“I guess Taylor Swift contributed to this trend with her song,” says Choi, noting that it’s the biggest color for spring 2023. “It conveys a delicate, feminine and romantic appearance.” It can even be seen on the runway as team JINsoon “created a dainty French with JINsoon “Ube” ($18) over JINsoon “Pixie” ($18) on the Brandon Maxwell SS 2023 runway, which is evocative of that look.”
Hipp recommends Olive and June “Lavender Stems” ($9). “This isn’t your usual pastel polish,” she says. “ It’s sheer, so even when it’s built up in two or three coats, it still has that soft squishy look you can usually only get from gel.” Malarkey suggests Pear Nova “Tokyo Afterglow” ($14) or Zoya “Abby” ($12). For a creamy light lavender Lin recommends sundays “L.05” ($18). Celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec recommends Lights Lacquer “Lilac Wine” ($11), a brighter lavender with a jelly finish.
Ballet slipper pink
With balletcore already trending, it’s no surprise this shade is a hit right now. “Blush pink is certainly a trend we’ve been seeing already with our clients,” says Glass. “The light ballet slipper shade is both soft and chic. We recommend trying out the GLOSSLAB ‘Sheer Blush’” ($10).” Hipp recommends the sheer milky shade everyone needs in their collection, Ella Milla “Dream” ($11). “It can be built up, worn in one, two or three coats. Unlike a lot of sheers, it doesn’t seem to chip as easily.” Celebrity manicurist Laura Malarkey recommends the classic OPI “Bubble Bath” ($11) this spring or ORLY “Cyber Peach” ($11).
There is a spectrum of soft pinks, and towards the dusty, rosy side lies JINsoon “Moxie” ($18), which Choi suggests. “I used it on the Michael Kors Spring 2023 runway show for a dazzling almost-neutral skin tone effect,” she adds. If you’re still feeling the glazed trend, Hipp suggests OPI “Switch to Portrait Mode” ($14). Lin says sundays “L.01” ($18) is the perfect delicate powder pink. Another powdery pink, recommended by Kandalec, is Chanel Le Vernis “Organdi” ($30).
Pale Peep yellow
Kandalec says “thanks to celebs like Hailey Bieber, we’ll even see lemon and lime toned nails.” Nail artist San Sung Kim agrees that pastel yellows will be trending. “As the weather warms and the fresh flowers spring up, people love to match their nails with the changing season. Soft colors resemble the colors that show up in nature at this time of the year,” says Kim. “These colors allow people to stay in touch with their soft and feminine side. The softer colors also look good with the lighter colors that are typical in spring fashion.”
For a pastel counterpart to the springtime sun, Malarkey recommends Essie Sunny Business ($10) and Lin recommends sundays “L.04 ($18).
“Another soft shade we’ve been seeing is a sheer white. Clients have been preferring the softer, milkier white to something stark and opaque,” says Glass. “It’s the perfect transition for warmer weather. My recommended color here would be GLOSSLAB “OG Cotton” ($10).”