“Naked Nails” Are Here to Cure Your Manicure Addiction—and the Results Are Gorgeous

Au naturel, all the way.

By Isabelle Eyman
Naked nails manicure.

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Trends cater to the cyclical nature of life, and they often shift right along with our own interests. Case in point, nail trends. The past few years have seen us growing out our nails or opting for long press-ons. And when headlines suggested that naked nails were coming for our manicure obsession, the initial reaction was that of shock. But maximalist nails are a vibe, right? They are, but our nails deserve a break every so often. Good news: prioritizing your nail health can also be aesthetic—and right now, it’s on trend.

While quiet luxury has been eclipsed by other microtrends capturing the zeitgeist, the style’s timelessness suggests that it’ll never fade entirely. Its effortless glamour and theme of beautiful undone-ness play the long game, leaning into a simple but captivating elegance. Exactly what naked nails achieve.

To perfect this goes-with-everything look, I spoke with Lesley Stanger, a nail artist, beauty creator, and Nailboo ambassador. Ahead, discover the best products for naked nails, a must-follow routine to keep your nails healthy, and everything to know about making minimalist nails work for you.

Featured image from our interview with Babba Rivera by Belathée Photography.

Pritika Swarup

What are naked nails?

An important distinction: naked nails are minimal, but they don’t imply neglect. Because you’re going bold by pulling back, upkeep and care are all the more important. Naked nails run the gamut of style. Some are left completely unpolished with just a simple clip, buff, and shape to keep things clean. Others take on color, but bold hues are out of the question—think delicate nudes like rose pink, white, or a clear top coat. Naked nails are considered but never overdone. Again, healthy nails is the key.

To get the look at home, start with the essentials. A nail file, a nail strengthener, and a buffing tool. And while many of us only think about our nails once a month at the salon, it’s important to establish a consistent routine around caring for your nails.

The Best Nail Care Routine for Long-Term Nail Health

If you’re worried about tacking on another to-do to your AM/PM beauty rituals, don’t worry. Stanger assures me that it’s easy to develop an impactful nail care routine. “Make sure that you are keeping your nails hydrated,” says the artist. When nails are dry, they’re more prone to breaking. To improve nail strength and prioritize hydration, Stanger suggests the following care tips:

  1. Apply a hand lotion or cuticle oil at least once daily. Doing so boosts the circulation around your nails which can stimulate nail growth. If you’re polishing your nails, cuticle oil also helps maintain shine by keeping the polish protected.
  2. Apply a thin base coat layer. This adds strength and offers the dual benefit of preventing damage and staining. It’ll also increase your color’s wear time.
  3. Be gentle with your nails. We’re constantly using our hands, but do what you can to minimize breakage.
White naked nails.

Tips for Minimizing Nail Damage

Painting your nails does inevitable damage. Even if you’re using a non-toxic product, nail polishes aren’t approved by either the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) before being released. That said, before painting your nails, it’s important to read the ingredients list. You can even verify ingredients via the Environmental Working Group database for a comprehensive look into potential concerns.

Once you feel confident in the polish and products you’re using, Stanger emphasizes the importance of properly prepping your nails and removing product. First step: Don’t do your nails too often. Instead, select a long-lasting polish. She notes that Nailboo products can last up to six weeks on the nails without chipping. “They protect the nails but are easily soaked off in acetone to ensure the health of your nails after removal.”

How to Get the Naked Nail Look at Home

To improve nails’ overall appearance, you have to be mindful of how you care for them. While brighter paints or splashier designs cover up not-so-healthy nails, keeping them “naked” can reveal snags and compromised nail integrity. Stanger suggests to keep the following in mind if you’re trying the naked nails trend.

  1. Clean nails on the top and underneath. Use a nail brush to remove dirt or debris.
  2. Buff and file nails. This keeps nails smooth and allows you to create your preferred and most flattering shape. There are two benefits to this: your nails look great and they’ll be less likely to snag or break.
  3. Apply a cuticle oil and base layer. As mentioned above, these additional steps keep nails hydrated while also adding strength and shine.
Nail polish products.

The Best Products to Perfect the Naked Nail Trend

Nailboo Blissful Blooms Cuticle & Nail Hydrating Oil

I’ve been using Nailboo products for over a month now and love how the brand has simplified and streamlined the process of doing your nails. This cuticle oil deeply hydrates nails with antioxidant-rich grapeseed oil. The lightweight, non-greasy formula dries quickly—so it’s no problem to apply daily. Note: It’s currently sold out, but I’ve found L’Occitane’s cuticle oil to be similarly softening and effective.

Vida Glow Natural Marine Collagen Sachets

When it comes to perfecting naked nails, keeping your nails healthy is everything. One of my favorite ways to ensure my nails stay strong is by supplementing with high-quality, clinically proven collagen—i.e., Vida Glow. Their natural marine collagen powder contains activated collagen peptides to stimulate collagen production, benefiting your nails, hair, and skin health. What’s more, Vida Glow’s collagen is heat stable. So while other collagen powders become less potent when exposed to heat, you can still stir a packet into your coffee and enjoy the (many) benefits.

Bare Hands The Dry Gloss Manicure Kit

The ultimate naked nails kit. For a one-and-done solution, this set has everything you need, pairing a polish and cuticle oil for your best-ever nails. Nourishing ingredients like jojoba seed oil, squalane, and vitamin E oil are gentle on your nails while still yielding a soft but strengthened result.

Gel Base + No Wipe Top Coats

Whether you’re doing naked nails or sticking with your loud and proud mani, base and top coats are non-negotiable. This bundle includes both, adding strength and shine. Like the brand’s cuticle oil, they’re fast-drying. Simply swipe and go on with your day.

L93 – Hand & Nail Serum

Typology is my be-all, end-all of French skincare. This serum works on both the hands and nails, providing these delicate areas with plant-based keratin and hyaluronic acid. The effect is deeply nourishing, softening your hands and cuticles. And the packaging? Stunning—so you won’t be shy about keeping your serum on the bathroom counter and using it on the daily.

Nécessaire The Hand Cream

IYKYK: the hunt for hand creams can be long and arduous. And then you find Nécessaire. Formulated with five ceramides, five peptides to boost your skin barrier, niacinamide to strengthen skin and soften signs of aging, and marula oil, this nourishing lotion reverses brittle cuticles and wraps your hands in hydrated bliss.

Nailboo Grooming Kit

For naked nails, a good grooming kit is your most essential essential. I love that the four-way file is strong and holds up to an intense filing sesh (I’ve been known to be aggressive). The cuticle pusher keeps them in place and looking fresh. And if you’re doing a DIY dip manicure, the powder brush makes for a smooth aplication.