How to Find the Best Nail Polish for Your Skin Tone, According to an Expert

Fashion’s hottest trends may say to match your shoes to your mini bag, but coordinating your nail polish with your skin tone can be equally eye-catching — especially when pedicure-baring season rolls around.

Choosing a nail polish color that flatters your skin tone can really work magic,” said Eleanor Langston, chief creative officer of New York city based nail salon Paintbox. “It helps make your complexion come alive and nails look ultra bright.

To achieve this look, she suggests opting for fully-saturated, opaque shades and staying away from those that are sheer. And while that aren’t necessarily polish colors certain skin tones should avoid (“the best way to find your best color is to experiment and step outside of your comfort zone,” she says), there are a few hues that will truly make your look pop. Ahead, Eleanor shares her expert suggestions.

For lighter complexions

Blush Pink: “Opt for a milky blush polish as a neutral. The white undertones are really flattering on lighter complexions. And then for bolder shades try cherry red (a true classic!), champagne for a complimentary metallic or even mint and sage colors.”

Editor’s picks:

Essie Ballet Slippers nail polish
CREDIT: Target

OPI Unrepentantly red infinite shine nail polish
CREDIT: JC Penney

OPI Good as Gold nail polish
CREDIT: Target
Butter London Minted nail polish
CREDIT: Dermstore

For medium and olive skin

Lilac or off-white: “I’m really into a light lilac or even creamy latte tones for a stunning neutral look. For bolder shades, try an orange-based poppy red (which looks especially great in warmer months), white gold or gunmetal for complimentary metallic or even cobalt or a mossy green shade.”

Editor’s picks:

OPI Iconic Infinite Shine Do You Lilac It nail polish
CREDIT: Ulta Beauty

Gel Lab Pro Nail Color Gel Lab Pro Fashion nail polish
CREDIT: Nordstrom

Zoya Nail Polish amazon
CREDIT: Amazon

Yves Saint laurent La Laque Couture Nail Polish 112 Blanc figuratif
CREDIT: Bloomingdales

Essie Gel Couture Front page worthy nail polish
CREDIT: Target


For darker complexions

Deep browns and reds: “I’m loving rich caramel lacquers as a neutral, a garnet or scarlet red for a classic, copper as a complimentary metallic, and then neons or bright magenta for a fun look. Pastel shades also look gorgeous on deeper tones; the contrast is beautiful.”

Essie Seeing Stars nail polish
CREDIT: Walmart

Dior Vernis Gel Shine & Long Wear Nail Lacquer nuit 1947
CREDIT: Nordstrom

Sally Hansen Color therapy burnished bronze
CREDIT: Target
Givenchy Fuscia Irresistible nail polish
CREDIT: Net-a-porter

All products featured have been independently selected and curated by our editorial team. If you buy something through the links included on our site, FN may earn a commission.

Below, watch FN’s tutorial on how to polish your shoes with champagne. 

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