The Best Sheer Nail Polishes for a Barely-There, Minimalist ManicureJanuary 19, 2023
Graphic nail art in bold colors and daring designs is definitely having a moment right now, but we still love a good minimalist mani as much as the next person. A clean, fresh manicure is chic and timeless. It’s a classic beauty look that will never go out of style, right up there with a red lip and a cat eye. If you tend to shy away from more maximalist designs in favor of a less-is-more look, keep scrolling. Ahead, we’re sharing 18 barely-there sheer nail polishes (think: chic nudes and light pinks) that are sure to satisfy your preferences.
What Is Sheer Nail Polish?
If you’ve been getting manicures for a while, chances are you’ve tried out a sheer nail polish or two. Sheer polishes are subtle, translucent shades, as opposed to ultra pigmented, opaque nail polishes that completely cover your nails in one or two coats. They can be layered over opaque polish for a customized color, but they also look pretty and sophisticated alone. Depending on the specific shade and the amount of layers you opt for, sheer nail polish can let your natural nails shine through ever so slightly, or be almost entirely clear.
The Best Sheer Nail PolishesStrengthen your nails and coat them in a sheer, glossy sheen with this nail-strengthening treatment from Essie. It has a subtle candy pink tone that not only shifts beautifully in the light, but also promises stronger nails in three days. We can definitely get on board with pretty polish that promotes better nail health.
You don’t have to trek to the salon for a professional-quality manicure. With its long-lasting, gel manicure-esque finish, Sheer Fantasy (a pink, jelly-like sheer shade), is the perfect pick to softly enhance the look of your natural nail color.
We get it. You’re busy and don’t always have time to wait more than 15 minutes for your nail polish to dry before getting on with your day. Enter: Essie Expressie Mall Crawler. This bubblegum pink shade is fun and flirty but still sheer. Like all Expressie quick-dry colors, this polish dries in about a minute without any base or top coat. Seriously.
Sheer nail polish isn’t just reserved for pink and nude tones. Another Expressie shade, Skip the Track is an unexpected lavender with gray undertones. This versatile purple polish is sheer, but you can up the coverage level with a few extra coats.
Essie Gel Couture Fairy Tailor is on the more nude end of the spectrum when it comes to sheer nail polish colors. We recommend this option for the most devoted beauty minimalists.
Go back to the basics with Essie Hi Maintenance, a classic sheer pale pink polish. This sweet, baby pink color conjures up images of frosted cupcakes and strawberry ice cream cones.
The Olive & June EC nail polish makes your nails look effortlessly chic while also strengthening and nourishing them. It’s formulated with the brand’s proprietary Flora Complex, a blend of ingredients that supports stronger, healthier nails.
Give your nails a stunning pearlescent glow with Cirque Colors Soleil. You won’t be able to keep your eyes off of the mesmerizing sparkle. We love that this polish has an edgy red sheen to it, setting it apart from other iridescent options.
The Whole Dewniverse from Pleasing is a holographic glitter polish that is sure to become your go-to when you need a party-ready mani. But arguably the coolest thing about this nail polish is the gorgeous bottle, complete with a large blue and purple marble decorating the applicator brush.
Deborah Lippmann Naked Gel Lab Pro Nail Polish is a beautiful option for an understated, barely-there manicure. Unlike the pinks and nudes that dominate this round-up, it leans more beige or even tan.
The Butter London Victoria Plum Jelly Preserve Strengthening Treatment practically looks good enough to eat. It’s an effective nail strengthener formulated with ingredients like tea tree oil, acai and vitamin E. It also has a jammy, translucent tint to give your nails a little color.
Brown nail polish is all the rage right now, and the Beloved shade from Ella + Mila is the sheer version of the trend. It’s a buttery brown-nude, like dipping your nails in luscious caramel.
As comforting and classic as afternoon tea, the Londontown Lakur in Teatime is a milky nude that works for any and every occasion. You’ll find yourself reaching for it time and time again.
This soft, sandy beige with pink undertones radiates elegance. Apply one coat for a milky-looking finish or paint on a few more for creamier coverage. This cozy oat milk latte shade makes a light color work for winter.