The Ultimate Guide to Nude Nails—19 Polishes That Enhance Every Skin Tone

Meet your perfect match.

By Nihel Ayari

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If plowing through endless books and articles on embodying a French aesthetic has taught me anything, it’s this: there are only two worthy nail colors. A bright red polish or a simple nude nail. I’ll admit, I’ve flirted with pastels here and there, and even fell prey to the trend of dark, vampire-esque nails. At the end of the day though, I’ll reach for nude nail colors that perfectly match my undertone. But the journey to finding just the right shade? It took a while to get there.

The biggest mistake when shopping for nude polishes is not knowing your undertone. After years of getting it wrong, I finally (finally!) got it right. Instead of reaching for nude colors with peachy or pink undertones, I now know to opt for colors that have a warm undertone to seamlessly match my skin.

Below, I’m wearing said perfect nude on my wedding day. Two coats of Essie’s Of Corset with a glossy long-wearing top coat.

Featured image of Babba Rivera by Belathée Photography.

nude nail colors bridal manicure
Image by Whit Mcguire

How to Find Your Undertone

If you really want to find the perfect nude shades for you, it’s critical that you don’t skip this step. There are four skin undertones. Cool, neutral, warm, and olive, with olive being the trickiest to identify. And know that there’s a difference between skin tone and undertone. Common misconceptions abound that even well-meaning beauty experts might unknowingly support.

For example, not all Asians have warm or “yellow” undertones and darker skin tones don’t automatically fall in the warm or olive category. It’s a complex topic, but it’s well worth the effort if you really want to nail the perfect hue. This is one of the best tutorials I’ve seen on the subject if you want to want an in-depth breakdown.

How to Find the Perfect Nude Polish

In the hunt for personal best polish, people often make the mistake of looking for a lacquer that’s the exact same match of their skin color. It’s not a foundation, advises celebrity nail color stylist Tom Bachik. “The current trend for a chic, sophisticated nude nail color is to either go a shade lighter or a shade darker than your actual skin tone, which gives a subtle yet intentional vibe to your manicure.”

nude nail colors
Image by Michelle Nash

The Perfect Sheer Nude Nail Colors for Every Skin Tone

Essie Of Corset

u003cpu003eCelebrity nail artist, u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003eBetina Goldsteinu003c/au003e, recommends this sheer beige to complement dark skin tones.u003c/pu003e

Essie Ballet Slippers

u003cpu003eThis best-seller is rumored to be what Megan Markle u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003ewore on her wedding dayu003c/au003e. If it’s good enough for Megan…u003c/pu003e

China Glaze Innocence

u003cpu003eA key player in any nail artist’s arsenal. Add just one coat of this pinky sheer polish for that your-nails-but-better look. u003c/pu003e

pH7 pH004

u003cpu003eFollow Selena Gomez’s lead and wear this to your next red carpet-appearance—or at least to drinks with the girls.u003c/pu003e
Marie Kouadio Amouzame nude nail colors
Image by Belathée Photography

Nude Nail Colors for Deep Skin Tones

Cuccio Caramel Kisses

u003cpu003eA toasted caramel crème—doesn’t that sounds luxurious?u003c/pu003e

Lights Lacquer Olivia

u003cpu003eA rich espresso brown with a hint of red undertones. If you’re looking for your Valentine’s Day color, this is it.u003c/pu003e

Zoya Nyssa

u003cpu003eA milk chocolate brown in the flawless, full-coverage cream formula. An ideal shade for cool undertones. u003c/pu003e
woman holding iced latte nude nail colors
Image by Belathée Photography

Nude Nail Colors for Medium-Deep Skin Tones

Orly Coffee Break

u003cpu003eOne reviewer says, u0022love this neutral beige color… just like coffee with extra cream.u0022 Who doesn’t love that?u003c/pu003e

Olive and June M.G.

u003cpu003eA desert-inspired terracotta makes for an unexpected neutral.u003c/pu003e

Lights Lacquer Emma

u003cpu003eA warm tan hue with orange undertones.u003c/pu003e
skincare Nude Nail Colors for Medium Skin Tones
Image by Michelle Nash

Nude Nail Colors for Medium Skin Tones

Zoya Kinsley

u003cpu003eThis creamy nude is perfect for olive skin tones with yellow undertones. u003c/pu003e

Lights Lacquer Lyla

u003cpu003eThe perfect neutral with an understated hint of personality. Proof that when it comes to nude nail colors, you can have the best of both worlds.u003c/pu003e

OPI Dulce de Leche

u003cpu003eMeet the new Millennial Pink.u003c/pu003e
babba rivera Nude Nail Colors For Light-Medium Skin Tones
Image by Belathée Photography

Nude Nail Colors For Light-Medium Skin Tones

Deborah Lippmann Naked

u003cpu003eThis lighter shade makes for the perfect nude manicure—and one that will garner you all the compliments.u003c/pu003e

Olive and June Coffee Milk

u003cpu003eA warm beige that’s perfect for a wide range of skin tones. u003c/pu003e

Lights Lacquer Matilda

u003cpu003eAn all-season neutral for girlies who love a year-round polish.u003c/pu003e
woman drinking green smoothie Nude Nail Colors For Light Skin Tones
Image by Teal Thomsen

Nude Nail Colors For Light Skin Tones

Zoya Jane

u003cpu003eA pinky-beige that’s guaranteed to be the favorite in your rotation.u003c/pu003e

OPI Tiramisu for Two

u003cpu003eA classic that never goes out of style.u003c/pu003e

Zoya Sabrina

u003cpu003ePerfect for pink undertones, this light, almost-effervescent neutral delivers.u003c/pu003e