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Nail trends will come and go, but nude nail polish will always be in style. That’s because the eternal trend can be dressed up or down, elongates your fingers and hands for an elegant look, works with every outfit, and there’s a nude out there for every single skin tone. Another bonus is unlike your fun brights, it isn’t that obvious when nude polish has a chip or two. When shopping for a nude, take your coloring into consideration to find the best shade for you.
Once you’ve found your bottle, give your yourself the perfect neutral manicure. Prep nails with a file to create an even shape, then apply a basecoat to clean, dry nails. Apply two coats of the polish, but keep each coat as thin as possible to avoid streaks. Finish it with a top coat to seal in the color, prevent chips and color fade, and extend the life of your mani. Ahead, the top nude nail polishes.
Best Overall: Essie in Topless & Barefoot
Truly a universal nude nail polish, Essie’s Topless & Barefoot flatters all skin tones. It’s the ideal mix of cream and beige, with just the right touch of baby pink mixed in. Essie’s polishes are famed for their long wearing, flawless coverage and chip-resistant formula, plus they are free of DBP, toluene, and formaldehyde.
Best Budget: OPI in Taupe-less Beach
A cross between light gray and lavender makes this perfect taupe. Not too yellow and not too pink, that’s exactly what makes it work for all skin tones. The elegant, timeless shade goes on completely opaque. This neutral works year-round and can be dressed up or dressed down.
Best Metallic Nude: Smith & Cult Nail Polish in 1972
If you like your nudes with a little sparkle, Smith & Cult’s Nail Polish in 1972 is the one for you. The perfect metallic rose gold works for everyone, and seems to magically change its color depending on which skin tone it is on. The eight-free formula has long lasting wear and high shine.
Best Splurge: Tom Ford Nail Lacquer in Toasted Sugar
Just like everything else Tom Ford makes, his nail polish looks and feels incredibly luxurious. This classic nude works with all skin tones, since its terracotta undertone warms up fair skin, while the sandy hues highlight medium and darker tones. The high-performance polish delivers great shine and coverage and won’t fade.
Best for Fair Skin: Yves Saint Laurent La Laque Couture Nail Lacquer
Those with fair skin tend to have pink and blue undertones, so you’ll want a nude nail polish that compliments that coolness and works with your coloring. This pretty pale-pink polish looks fresh and cheery on fair skin and delivers a subtle pop. Plus, YSL’s polish is super shiny for a high fashion feel.
Best for Medium Skin: JINsoon Nail Lacquer in Nostalgia
Flatter medium skin tones with a pink-y beige, which brightens. Plus, green veins are more obvious on medium tones and pinks can soften the look, making you appear younger. This shade was inspired by classic Hollywood flicks from the 1950s, yet the color also looks contemporary and cool. The hue is part of JINsoon’s permanent collection of nail polish mainstays.
Best for Olive Skin: Sally Hansen Color Therapy Nail Polish in Re-Nude
To bring out the best of olive skin, opt for a caramel nude, like Sally Hansen’s Color Therapy Nail Polish in Re-Nude. Its barely there reddish undertones look neutral for this skin tone. Plus, the Color Therapy line actually improves the health of your nails while you wear it, since it is infused with nourishing ingredients. It also lasts for up to 10 days without chipping or fading.
Best for Dark Skin: Zoya Professional Lacquer in Brigitte
Dark tones have the most options when it comes to nude nail polish, since their skin works with a wide range of colors. However, avoid greige shades, which can look washed out and dull. A rosy beige, like this one by Zoya, tends to be the most complimentary since beige is a chic juxtaposition with dark skin and warm rose tones flatter it. This brand of polishes is vegan and five free, so there’s no need to worry about toxic ingredients.
Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular nude nail polishes on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 25 different nail polishes overall, screened options from 15 different brands and manufacturers, read over 35 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 20 of the nail polishes themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.