Top Nail Experts Weigh In on the Most Popular Summer Shades

summer nail polish

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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 for you. Ahead, check out the best nail polish colors for this season.

1. Sky Blue

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," aka powdery-blue hues like Côte's NO.71 ($18).

2. Green Envy

Emerald nails inspired by a tropical vacation will stir up the right amount of envy and nostalgia. To own such a bold look, try MiniLuxe's Lucky ($20) deep green nail polish. Moisturize and soften your cuticles with Pacifica's Coconut Rehab Nourishing Cuticle Oil ($12).

3. 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 Pacifica's Crystal Gloss 7 Free Top Coat in Gold Lamé ($10) for a fast-drying and glossy finish.

4. Sheer Gloss

"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 are partial to Choi's Nail Lacquer in Dew ($18) polish (a sheer, milky shade that smells of roses), if you want a hint of color, Choi has created a shimmering gold polish called Mist, as well as Pixie, a pale-pink gloss, both $18.

5. Bold Metallics

For a mani-pedi befitting a summer night out, manicurist Frances Liang recommends swiping on a chunky glitter polish over a neutral-toned base. Deborah Lippmann's Glitter Nail Color in Happy Birthday ($20) is a party in a bottle.

6. 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 ($9) allows your nail designs to stand out.

7. Nude Peach

Give an ode to summer with a peachy nude polish. Essie's Low Tide High Slit ($12) is a muted peach that speaks volumes. The even color coverage will save you from adding multiple layers.

8. Gelato Touch

Nails coated with apricot, corals, and creamy, cool greens is a glimpse of your dream Mediterranean trip booked and ready to go. Suite Eleven's Watermelanin ($11) is a dessert made in heaven for your manicure.

9. Bright Orange

"Orange has a sportiness and collegiate quality that goes well with the athleisure look," says Sally Hansen's global color ambassador, Madeline Poole. And since the athleisure trend has yet to go out of style, Poole says we will be seeing plenty of orange manicures using Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Color in Sunkissed ($3) in our future. If you want to mix it up, pair a neon shade with a powdery-blue hue for an unexpected contrast, adds Choi.

10. Watermelon Sugar

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 nod to warmer weather.

11. Neon Lights

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 expresses. A bright color nail color like the MiniLuxe Dancing in the Dark ($20) is sure to stop traffic and work as a fun conversation starter.

12. 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 $8).

"When doing a mix and match mani, I like to have some complexity and simplicity to pull the look together. I strategically design the tips leaving the bottom as the negative space," Lopez advises.

13. 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 favorite brands and their lime green nail lacquer in How Does Your Zen Garden Grow ($11) will be on constant rotation all summer.

14. Baby's Breath

A soft, hushed pink is versatile, classic, and simply chic. For your day-to-day effortlessness, Dior's 500 Pink Petal ($28) is a must-have. This Diorlesse strengthens your nails and smooths small imperfections while giving a natural flush.

15. Make it Graphic

A creamy grape nail polish is just what your manicure needs. Animate your nails with Floss Gloss Lean ($9) nail polish. The electric purple makes a loud statement on its own and combined with fresh graphics.

16. Deconstructed Rose

"I created this design inspired by flower petals. I layered contrasting colors using Orosa Beauty's summer shades," expert nail artist Ada Yeung says. Orosa's Desert Rose ($12) shade has calm violet undertones and the curve of the brush guides your hands to ensure precision.

17. Golden Hour

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).

18. Chic Terracotta

"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 ($10) is a muted earth tone that gives off a clay color with a glossy finish.

19. 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 in Areej ($10).

20. Stormy Sage

This gray-blue with green undertones gives all the drama and feels. Essie's moody seafoam in Air Dry ($9) is like cloudy beach day.

21. Unicorn Glow

Yeung is a fan of a barely-there coat of iridescent polish. "I tend to favor one to two coats Dermelect’s Makeover Ridge Filler Base Coat ($16). It is a sheer pink with a hint of fine iridescent shimmer, and I finish it with a quick-drying top coat like Seche Vite ($10)," Yeung says. An iridescent shade is buildable, creating an opal sheen for your nails.

22. Tortoiseshell

A tortoise colored nail is not a trend to shy away from. For a traditional look, the first layer of is commonly a turmeric-like color. You are then able to build upon it using browns and oranges. J.Hannah's smoky yellow named Fauna ($19) mimics a tortoiseshell perfectly.

23. Cow Print

"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," says Lopez. Dimension's Calf ($12) shade is a spot-on lacquer to use for this playful trend.

24. Wandering Eye

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 Evergreen ($16).

25. Chocolate Mood

Dark nail polish in summer might seem taboo, but a lovely brown will always secure its place as a contemporary shade. Olive & June named their silky chocolate, CN ($8) after Sprinkles Cupcakes founder, Candace Nelson. The sweet touch satisfies any cravings for a new look.

26. Bright and Abstract

"Summer trends seem to always have bright mix match colors combined with one another. I think the mix match trend of putting random art with one another is also going to be a continuing trend," says Nguyen. A successful manicure doesn't have the be uniform on each nail. Nguyen suggests using Nails Inc's Social Detox ($11) to create a color story with swatches you love to mix together.

27. Royal Blue

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 ($8) delivers the color payoff with a metallic shimmer and drugstore price.

28. Mod Mauve

Embrace the '60s with a nostalgic lavender nail polish. OPI's mod purple in Do You Like It ($13) is a blue-based shade that provides a gel-like finish you can create from home.

29. Cherry Picking

"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.

30. Sunset Yellow

Sunset shades are timeless and always in style. Whether it's a powerful red or bright yellow, the colors in between the shades are an array of summer must-haves. Byron Bay's Sunflower ($25) is a retro yellow that's even inviting to neutral nail enthusiasts.

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