Pedicure season is upon us, and with a plethora of polishes to choose from, we decided it was time to plan our colors accordingly. And while we typically opt for shades of pink come summer (Smith & Cult's Pillow Pie ($18) is a favorite), we can't help but ogle over powdery blue hues and fresh metallic shades. Finding it difficult to narrow down the best new polishes (there are just so many), we reached out to nail experts for their summer nail color recommendations.
For an eye-catching mani-pedi, might we suggest a metallic shade from Deborah Lippmann? Is your style more minimalistic? Add a subtle hint of color to your nails via Jinsoon's sheer gloss polish. Or perhaps you want a sunny shade to match the weather—if that's the case, Côte's array of sky-blue polishes will do just the trick. No matter what your style is, there is a perfect summer shade out there for you.
Ahead, check out the best nail polish colors for this season.
Côte's founders, Mary Lennon and Leah Yari, predict blue polish will be all the rage for summer. But just what shade of blue should we paint our fingers and toes? According to Lennon and Yari, we should opt for polishes "reminiscent of clear skies and clean seas," such as powdery blue hues like Côte's No. 71 Blue Periwinkle Nail Polish ($18).
Handful of Gold
Ditch your solid base color and stick to your topcoat. A glimmering orange-gold with flecks of confetti is playful in the sunlight. Try OPI's Mexico City Nail Lacquer in Slinging Mezcal Gold ($11) for a glossy finish.
"I love the no-makeup makeup look for summer, and that goes for nails as well. My Sheer Gloss Collection was inspired by the look of clear lip gloss on the lips. I think it is a very understated, chic look for nails this summer, a barely there nail look," says Jin Soon Choi, editorial manicurist and founder of Jinsoon Nail Lacquer. And while we're partial to Choi's Nail Lacquer in Dew (a sheer, milky shade that smells of roses), if you want a hint of color, Choi has also created Pixie, a pale-pink gloss, $18.
Positive vs Negative Space
Expert nail technician Nia Ho says, "I think negative space with abstract art looks very artsy on nails. Black, white, and yellow are my favorite color combos." Taking up small space on your nails makes a huge impact. A neutral base like Essie's Bare with Me ($10) allows your nail designs to stand out.
Give an ode to summer with a peachy nude polish. Essie's Low Tide High Slit ($13) is a muted peach that speaks volumes. The even color coverage will save you from adding multiple layers.
"Orange has a sportiness and collegiate quality that goes well with the athleisure look," says editorial nail artist Madeline Poole. And since the athleisure trend has yet to go out of style, Poole says we'll be seeing plenty of orange manicures using Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Color in Sunkissed in our future. If you want to mix it up, pair a neon shade with a powdery blue hue for an unexpected contrast, Choi adds.
Fruit coated nails are an exciting and welcoming step into the season. A watermelon shade is a fun break from the popular citrus-themed nail. The Gel Bottle's August ($19) is a sweet red nod to warmer weather.
For nail artist Teerah Lopez, one perfect trend for summer is neon nails. "They are so bright it makes me want to talk with my hands more. It brings confidence! Neon colors pop without needing assisting colors to make a design," Lopez explains. A bright color nail color like the China Glaze Nail Lacquer in Tropic Like It's Hot ($8) is sure to stop traffic and work as a fun conversation starter.
Multicolor French Tip
"French tips in different colors and different kinds of shapes that go along not only the tip but along any angle of the nails allow for just the right amount of color distribution," Ho explains. Create this look using pastels with cool undertones like Olive & June's CS, BP, and KMC (all $9).
"When doing a mix-and-match mani, I like to have some complexity and simplicity to pull the look together," Lopez says. "I strategically design the tips, leaving the bottom as the negative space."
Key Lime Pie
"My go-to shade for summer is a fun key lime pie/'70s green," says professional nail technician Hang Nguyen. OPI is one of Nguyen's favorite brands, and its lime green nail lacquer in How Does Your Zen Garden Grow will be on constant rotation all summer.
A soft, hushed pink is versatile, classic, and simply chic. For your day-to-day effortlessness, Dior's Diorlisse Abricot ($30) is a must-have. This Diorlisse promises to strengthen your nails and smooth small imperfections while giving a natural flush.
Make it Graphic
A creamy grape nail polish is just what your manicure needs. Animate your nails with Essie Handmade With Love Nail Polish Collection in In Pursuit of Craftiness ($10). The electric purple makes a loud statement both on its own and combined with fresh graphics.
A warm, golden shade looks great on all skin tones, and the honey-like color complements a summer tan beautifully. Try China Glaze's golden mustard in Mustard the Courage ($8).
"I like minimalist designs (such as fluid shapes and lines, human body silhouettes) in terracotta and pastel colors," Yeung says. "My favorite nail polish brands are Zoya for their treatments, smooth toxin-free formula, and a wide selection of shades." Zoya's nail polish in Flowie ($12) is a muted earth tone that gives off a clay color with a glossy finish.
Pop of Pink
"Millennial pink is all the talk these days, so I am really into pinks this summer," says Zoya Creative Director Rebecca Isa. To give millennial pink a fresh new spin, Isa recommends painting your nails a bright shade of fuchsia. Try Zoya's bold pop of color, Areej.
This gray-blue with green undertones gives all the drama and feels. Essie's moody seafoam in Air Dry ($10) is like a cloudy beach day.
Yeung is a fan of a barely-there coat of iridescent polish. "I tend to favor one to two coats of Dermelect's Makeover Ridge Filler Base Coat ($18)," she says. "It's a sheer pink with a hint of fine iridescent shimmer, and I finish it with a quick-drying top coat like Seche Vite ($9)." An iridescent shade is buildable, creating an opal sheen for your nails.
A tortoise colored nail is not a trend to shy away from. For a traditional look, the first layer is commonly a turmeric-like color. You're then able to build upon it using browns and oranges. J.Hannah's smoky yellow, Fauna ($22), mimics a tortoiseshell perfectly.
"Dimension Nails is another brand that stands out. This brand has an incredible line of crème polishes, while being cruelty-free, and almost every collection is centered around animals," Lopez says. Revlon's Nail Enamel in Elegant ($6) shade is a spot-on lacquer to use for this playful trend.
A white nail shade is a summer staple for any nail polish collection. A stark white works for every skin type, no matter the undertone. Spice up the white foundation with eye-catching graphics using expert favorite, Cirque Colors in Lafayette ($13).
Dark nail polish in summer might seem taboo, but a lovely brown will always secure its place as a contemporary shade. Olive & June named its silky chocolate, CN ($9), after Sprinkles Cupcakes founder, Candace Nelson. We love their shade, Obsessed, ($9) too. The sweet touch satisfies any cravings for a new look.
Bright and Abstract
"Summer trends seem to always have bright mix match colors combined with one another," Nguyen says. "I think the mix match trend of putting random art with one another is also going to be a continuing trend."
A successful manicure doesn't have to be uniform on each nail. Nguyen suggests using polish to create a color story with swatches you love to mix together. Try using Nails Inc's Regal Lane ($15).
Jewel-inspired nail colors brings high-end elegance to your manicure. A royal blue nail polish stands out during the day and summer nights. Duri's Fire Sapphire ($9) delivers the color payoff with a metallic shimmer and drugstore price.
Embrace the '60s with a nostalgic lavender nail polish. OPI's mod purple in Do You Lilac It ($13) is a blue-based shade that provides a gel-like finish you can create from home.
"My favorite nail trend for summer is a classic French tip topped with a cute design such as cherries," Yeung says. Emilie Heathe's The Perfect Red ($28) nail polish is a stunning red cherry for all manicure lovers. The custom Japanese bottle is able to magnetize so you can travel or organize your favorite colors with ease.