The Best Nude Nail Polishes for Every Skin Tone

August 04, 2022
Angela Melero
By: Angela Melero | by L'Oréal
Hands with nude nail polish on a pink gradient background

There are a few beauty trends that will never go out of style, and nude nail polish is one of them. No matter how many nail designs and manicure styles come and go, nude polish and neutral nails have staying power because of their versatility — there's a shade that works for every season and occasion. From sheer pinks to rich browns, there’s a perfect nude polish for you. Keep reading for a complete rundown of the best nude polish for every skin tone.

Nude Nail Polish for Deep and Dark Skin Tones

While light and bright shades offer a striking contrast, rich, dark nudes look dreamy and natural against your fingers. Look for deep taupes, dark browns and warm roses. 


Essie Expressie Cold Brew Crew

This Essie shade is a quick-drying, medium-toned brown that offers just enough contrast and warmth.


Nails Inc Keep It Tonal Nail Collection

This nail set comes in a satisfying gradient of four rich nude-based hues for those with darker skin tones. Wear just a single shade or paint a different color on each nail for an ombré manicure.

Essie Expressie Cold Brew Crew, Nails Inc Keep It Tonal Nail Collection

Nude Nail Polish for Medium and Olive Skin Tones

Medium skin tones typically have yellow or golden undertones, so it’s best to go with pinkish nudes, sheer taupes and café au lait shades.


Essie Keep Branching Out

This creamy taupe polish has subtle yellow undertones, making it a perfect match for your golden skin tone. 


Paintbox Nail Lacquer Like Mystery

This sandy shade puts a twist on your standard neutral nail polish color. The slightly pink, milky hue complements all skin tones, especially medium and olive.

Paintbox Nail Lacquer Like Mystery, Essie Keep Branching Out

Nude Nail Polish for Fair and Light Skin Tones

The key to rocking nude the right way is to allow it to stand out in contrast to your complexion. Sheer pink shades are the way to go because they add a touch of warmth to your fingertips. Try to avoid white or beige nudes, which can wash out lighter skin tones.


Essie Ballet Slippers

There’s a reason why this has been an Essie nail polish bestseller for years. The pale pink shade works wonders on any skin tone and nail shape, making it a staple in every salon and beauty drawer. On fair skin, it makes the perfect base for a French mani.


Aila Make Him Wait a Day

This opaque blush hue is subtle and gives the look of a clean, crisp and classic nude manicure. It’s the perfect barely-there color with just a glossy shine.

essie ballet slippers, alia make him wait a day

Tips For the Perfect Nude Manicure

Applying nude nail polish may seem like a no-brainer, but according to the pros, it still requires a little finesse. In addition to picking the right nude polish for your skin tone, there are a few key rules you should follow to achieve the best neutral nail finish.  

Steer Clear of the Cuticle

“Whenever I apply nail polish, I always avoid the cuticle area, and if I do get a little polish on the skin, I wipe it off immediately,” says nail artist Mimi Wilson. An easy way to fix mistakes is to dip a cuticle brush in nail polish remover and use it to brush over the paint on your skin.

Triple Up

“When I use nude nail polish, I like to apply it in two thin coats and one thicker one, to avoid any streaking,” says nail artist Reina Santos. “I usually apply three coats to achieve opacity. The third coat is applied a little thicker to even everything out. I also use a generous amount of top coat to smooth out the polish.”

Moisturize the Nails

Because your nails are going to be about as naked as can be, your hands will be on full display. Make sure you’re keeping them healthy and hydrated by massaging a cuticle oil, like the Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil, into your nails every day.  



Photo: Jonet Williamson, Design: Juliana Campisi

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