How to Pick the Best Polish Color

Image of different nail polish colors.

When you walk into a nail salon, you are confronted with a wall/shelves full of colorful polishes. For some, the choice can be overwhelming; for others, it can be downright exhilarating. But have you ever chosen a polish, gone through your manicure-pedicure session, then looked down and thought, “What the heck was I thinking?” Such dissatisfaction could have you running home and undoing the final work your salon technician did, and perhaps some will return in a few days and/or pay an extra fee to have a color change.

Sound like you? Well, fear not. Use these tips and you hopefully will never choose the wrong nail polish color again.

Skin Tone

This, by far, may be the most important of all the tips you receive. Your skin tone plays a huge role as to which color you should choose. However, it is not a surefire rule. Polishes have drastically changed over the years, and so have trends—polishes are more pearlescent than frosted, which was a style of the ‘80s, and now people are breaking barriers and going against the “norm”. Still, let’s consider the following:

  • Olive/yellow skin tones: Those with olive or yellow undertones are best suited for white, beiges and nudes, even bright colors such as orange or hot pink. This group also does well with darks like chocolate, black and deep reds.
  • Blue undertones: While it may sound odd, if you have blue undertones, you’re best suited for bright and dark colors with blue tones like fuchsia and deep violet. Soft pink and nudes are also favorable.
  • Medium to dark skin: Rich tones that are medium to dark work well with bright colors, but more specifically bright colors like hot pink and orange-based polishes. Other flattering colors are white, nude and beige. But trending now and well worth the consideration are darks like black, navy blue, etc. Out of all of the tones, this one may be the most versatile and most adaptable.
  • Pale to fair skin: Those with pale to fair skin also do well with nudes, beiges, soft pinks and most pastels.

Your Lifestyle

Many people don’t consider their lifestyle, but it should still be considered:

  • Active lifestyles: If you lead an active lifestyle, say you workout often or are in a role where you use your hands a lot—and feet if you do pedicures and show off your toes—you should consider a combination of skin tone and activity. Dark nails on light skin make nail polish chips more visible. And conversely, light polish colors on dark skin show up more clearly. So, if you are active, you are more prone to chips, and therefore your color choice should be a determining factor.
  • Employment: When it comes to your career, your attire, including your grooming and nail appearance, should be considered. Flashy bright colors that draw attention, might not be as appropriate for someone who works at a law firm or government agency, but could be totally appropriate for a different work environment. And if you do not have a job, but are looking for one, make sure you dress for the job you want - nail grooming included!

How You Can Get Around Skin Tone & Lifestyle Challenges

Ask for Help

If you don’t know which color matches your skin tone, speak with your nail technician. A knowledgeable technician can select a number of polishes that match your tone. You then can test each of the colors on separate nails to determine the one that is most visually appealing to you.

Mix and Match

Mixing and matching can help you get around skin tone, and here’s how it works: Choose a color that favors your skin tone, but have it placed at the bottom of the nail. Then, use a color that you like but that perhaps does not favor your tone at the top/tip. This especially works for long nails, which lengthen the look of the fingers, the length of the canvas, and causes a separation that is pleasing to the eye.

Consider Gel vs. Traditional Polish

If you are active, this means your nail polish is prone to chipping. But whether you are active or not, polish is bound to chip, usually within a few days of your appointment. To get around this, you can do one of three things: purchase the nail polish and repaint your nails yourself, return to your nail technician for a touchup, choose gel polish over traditional polish as it lasts longer (typically one week or longer).

To learn more about choosing your best polish color, visit our salon.

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