Aug 1, 2017

New day, new polish. That’s a motto we can get behind, because we’ll be the first to admit we buy and test out just about every nail polish shade under the sun. But no matter how many bubble gum pinks or rainbow glitters we brush on our nails, there are certain colors that never leave our side. You probably have your go-to classic red and know there are endless ways to wear nudes, but that’s sort of obvious, beginner-level stuff. The real nail enamel aficionado will move beyond the basics to embrace shades that are more unexpected, while still sophisticated, and, well, polished. Call them the new classics.

But don’t take our word for it. We went to Michelle Saunders, essie celebrity manicurist, to find out what she considers the 8 wear-anywhere, never-fail nail polish shades every girl should permanently have in her collection. You can own 15 bottles or 300 (we’re talking to you, junkies!), but you’ll never go wrong with these elite 8.

Bordeaux

This rich-toned wine is still vibrant enough to allow the red hue to peek through. “Bordeaux has varied depths, so it’s easy to find one that suits you best,” Saunders said. For example, the darkest wine polish like  L'Oreal Paris Infallible Nail Polish will appeal to fair skin tones. A brighter hue, such as Yves Saint Laurent La Laque Couture in 74 Rouge Over Noir will look more vibrant on a deeper skin tone. Those in between could try something like Giorgio Armani Beauty Nail Lacquer in 502-Scarlatto. Saunders notes bordeaux makes a great pedicure color, too.

 

Nail Art Know-How

A classic moon manicure looks impressive in this shade. Keep the moon naked (aka negative space moon) for maximum impact.

Millennial Pink

“A true, soft pastel pink can feel modern and current, which is why it’s so popular and quickly transitioning into a classic,” Saunders said. She loves essie Fiji (above left) because it’s universally flattering to all shapes and lengths of nails. “Sometimes I like to mix and match pastel pink on fingers and bordeaux on toes,” she said.

 

Nail Art Know-How

According to Saunders, since this is a trendy shade, it’s ideally suited for fun nail art. Try painting graphic lines while leaving out a triangle shape on the sides of nails.

 

Neutral

Sometimes, you just want to take it down a notch and go with a barely-there nail shade. In times like those, Saunders suggests reaching for essie Ballet Slippers (above right), which she claims is the ideal neutral. “It’s the perfect blend of beige and crème with a hint of pink,” she said. “Because of this, it’s an ideal shade for all skin tones and perhaps this is why it’s essie’s most pinned color!”

 

Nail Art Know-How

To keep with the neutral theme, Saunders suggests forgoing nail designs with this hue.

 

Dove Grey

“Have you noticed how a soft grey makes you feel?” Saunders asked. “It’s a cozy color and a fresh alternative to a dark grey manicure.” Saunders swears she gets stopped on the street by people asking what she has on her nails when she wears the clean, light essie Mademoiselle. “I like it on fingers and toes for a fresh-looking, matching manicure and pedicure,” she said. To add a bit of warmth to paler skin, swipe on Giorgio Armani Beauty Nail Lacquer in 103 Parma Greige or Urban Decay Naked Nail Color in Magnet.

 

Nail Art Know-How

Light grey painted halfway down the nail horizontally will appear modern and simple.

 

 

Chrome

“Now, more than ever, we’re seeing metallic silver everywhere, and not just on nails!” Saunders said. “I’m so glad shine is back, and we are no longer afraid of a bit of sheen on our nails.” For a hit of sparkle, try L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Nail Color in Diamond in the Rough. If you prefer a smoother surface, essie no place like chrome looks like molten silver.

 

Nail Art Know-How

Go for a metallic swipe at the tip of fingernails for a twist on the French manicure. “This looks great at weddings,” Saunders said.

 

Black Patent Leather

A mixture of rock and roll with classic sophistication, “a super shiny black mani/pedi is a powerful and strong nail look,” Saunders said. “I’ve applied this to all skin tones and nail lengths, and it’s always a guaranteed favorite amongst my clients.” Experiment with Urban Decay UD XX Vintage Nail Color in Oil Slick or essie licorice.

 

Nail Art Know-How

For an edge, Saunders suggests creating wide stripes from base to tip and side to side of nails.

Sky Blue

“Believe it or not, one of my go-to colors is sky blue,” Saunders said. “It looks beautiful on toes, and no matter what time of year it is, it’s uplifting.” NYX Professional Makeup Nail Lacquer in Pastel Sea - Powder Blue will remind of you a warm summer day at the beach or being by the pool and works well with medium or olive skin tones. Fair skins will be perfectly offset by essie borrowed & blue, while darker tones are flattered by essie blue-la-la.

 

Nail Art Know-How

“Who doesn’t love an evenly spaced polka dot manicure?” Saunders asked. We couldn’t agree more.

Evergreen

Don’t be afraid of a deep forest green, advises Saunders. “It’s eye-catching and feels clean,” she said. Her favorite months to sport this hue are March and December. As Saunders points out, greens range in depth and tone, so don’t be afraid to experiment to find your perfect hue. For example, Yves Saint Laurent La Laque Couture in 76 Fur Green goes very well with fair skin. NYX Professional Makeup Nail Lacquer in Emerald Forest contains a slight shimmer that looks lovely against olive skins. If you have darker skin, you might like the opulent essie stylenomics.

 

Nail Art Know-How

For a fun touch, paint a simple diagonal line on your manicure.

 

The All-Time Best Trick For Making Your Manicure Last

According to Saunders, it’s using two coats of top coat, not one. Let each dry completely.

 

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What’s your go-to shade? Tell us in the comments below!

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