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There’s something to be said about the perfect deep, dark nail color. It makes an impact, turns heads, and if applied precisely, can look like a work of art. What I love the most? Dark polishes aren’t just different shades of black. In fact, there’s almost always a moody counterpart to your favorite bright. "Think emeralds, midnight blues, rich browns, and more," says Syreeta Aaron, salon owner and LeChat Nails educator.
To get a gorgeous finish, it takes some special prepping when it comes to dark shades. First, make sure your nail beds are clean, free of any polish, and are filed. The next step, and possibly the most important, is to apply a base coat. Because bold colors can potentially stain your nails, you want to protect them with a barrier, advises Aaron. When it’s time to start applying your color, thin layers are the way to go for smooth, even results.
Ready to go dark? Find the best dark nail colors, below.
Essie Nail Polish in Licorice
Classic, creamy, and chic—this jet-black polish goes with everything. Think of it like an LBD for your nails.
Deborah Lippman Gel Lab Pro in Stormy Weather
When classic black feels a little too deep, this dark gray is the perfect choice. Equal parts glossy and creamy, it also features strengthening biotin and green tea to encourage overall nail health.
OPI Nail Lacquer in Black Onyx
Not only is this a true pitch-black shade, but the formula also boasts no bubbling or streaking. Reviewers report that it glides right on and provides complete coverage.
China Glaze Nail Lacquer in Star Hopping
Fancy the universe right at your fingertips? This midnight-inspired polish boasts flecks of metallic glitter without being too overbearing.
OPI Nail Lacquer in Malaga Wine
Is your nail polish collection even a collection without a wine shade? A sophisticated version of classic red, this deep burgundy is a winner all on its own. Juicy, rich, and pigmented, it’s a best-selling color for a reason.
Habit Cosmetics Nail Polish in Creature of the Night
This vegan and toxin-free formula has everything you could want—myrrh extract to promote nail strength, biodegradable caps, and recycled plastic components. Plus, this multi-tone metallic navy has a shimmer finish that seems to change with every move.
Orly Nail Polish in Air of Mystique
This deep teal is versatile—rock it during the holidays or for some fun in the sun. It’s got the perfect balance of bold and dark, and it only takes one coat to get even coverage.
Suite Eleven Nail Lacquer in Mud on the Leaves
Described as an army green crème, I am living for this dark take on typically cheery green. It gives me chic camouflage vibes—perfect for a boss babe who can command a room.
Triple O Nail Polish in Nok
If I could name the best dark neutral, this timeless chocolate would be it. Users love how smoothly it applies and how well it accentuates their skin tone.
Bernadette Nail Polish in Conflict Diamonds
Think of this color as diamonds, bottled. The backdrop of this polish is an opaque black, but the stars of the show are the show-stopping flashes of silver.
Butter London Patent Shine 10X Nail Lacquer in Brolly
Not quite black and not quite navy, this polish shade sits right in the middle. The formula is chip-resistant and long-wearing thanks to polymer technology.
LeChat Nail Polish in Maroonscape
Just like the flavorful wine, this full-bodied merlot shade is packed with depth and color. “It’s one of my go-to dark shades,” says Aaron. And we can see why—this bold hue would pair great with just about anything.
Zoya Professional Lacquer in Willa
Intensely dark and rich, this blacker than black polish is incredibly pigmented. Users report only needing one coat to achieve their desired look. The best part: the formula is 10-free.
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish in Wild for Violet
Hey, purple can be super-chic, too. Just take a look at this perfectly gloomy shade—it’s dark and creamy but still feels vibrant. Remember to follow up with the brand’s top coat to seal in the formula.
Nails Inc. Plant Power Nail Polish in Swear by Salutation
This formula, which is 21-free and 73% plant-based, is as natural and eco-friendly as it gets. I also love how moody this dark red is—it’s classic with a slight twist, ideal for when you want to change it up without going too left field.
What to Look For in a Dark Nail Polish
Look for ingredients that promote healthy, stronger nails when choosing a polish. Key players include biotin, which strengthens nails.
We've said it before and we'll say it again, undertones matter. When it comes to nail polish, we fully support you wearing any shade you please, but when looking for a dark polish that compliments your skin best, defer to your tones and undertones. For cool undertones, opt for a blue or purple dark polish. For warm undertones, opt for a dark red or orange polish. And for neutral undertones (the lucky ones) you can grab just about any nail color off the shelf.
Once you've decided on the perfect color in your mind, it's important to make sure you choose the right brand. Defer to our Complete Guide to the 14 Best Nail Polish Brands Out There to ensure that you pick a brand that works and will keep your nails healthy and beautiful before and after the polish.
Are there different types of nail polish?
What is best way to do manicure at home?
Prepare the nails by cutting, filing, buffing, and pushing the cuticles back for a fresh base. Follow by adding your basecoat, and then your polish. Add a topcoat, dry your nails, and admire your work of art. Check out our complete guide to the perfect DIY mani here.
Are nail strengtheners helpful?
Yes, nail strengtheners can be helpful when needed. Fragile nails, which often stem from the use of gel, acrylic, or other damaging manicures need a break from time to time, and during that break, a strengthener can be your nail's best friend. Often infused with essential vitamins, proteins, and other ingredients to make your nails both harder and stronger, applying a strengthener is one of the best ways to help your nails recover.