Let’s be honest: The only stressful part about getting a manicure is choosing what color to commit to for the next seven to 14 days. As far as cosmetic appointments go, that’s pretty painless! But then you turn and face the color wall. Now more than ever there are just so many beautiful, slightly different, and cleverly named colors to choose from. I’m still trying to determine if there’s really a substantial difference between OPI’s Russian Navy and Essie’s Saphire (two of my signature winter shades), but that’s not something I ever lose sleep over. It’s easy to change things up next time.
Unless I’m planning for a special occasion, my typical visit to the nail salon is as impromptu as my color selection. While I like to think polishes appeal to me at random, the truth is I’m not playing the nail salon version of color wheel roulette. According to our panel of industry experts, after polishing thousands of nails and handling hundreds of bottles of lacquer, each manicurist and salon owner can confidently declare which colors are more popular than others.
In fact, all three of our pros agree that 2019 was a big year for the classics: reds, neutrals, and classic French manicure colors were the most popular, followed by bursts of neon in the summer and moody ‘90s hues as the weather got cooler. Next year, however, promises to be a bit more experimental—after all, we are entering a new decade—so the time is right for a major shakeup, even if it’s only temporary. Keep scrolling for 19 of the most popular nail colors in 2019, plus 10 polishes that are predicted to be big in 2020 according to celebrity crystal nail artist Mazz Hanna, Varnish Lane co-founder and CEO Lauren Dunne, and Sarah Gibson Tuttle, founder and CEO of Olive & June.
Tops in 2019
“It’s always neutrals season!" exclaims Tuttle. "Neutrals work for every occasion and are really forgiving as tiny imperfections are less noticeable," she explains. Plus, she expects the shade to continue to be big in 2020 and has plans to release some new Olive & June polishes in neutral shades soon.
Olive & June EC, a Nourishing Sheer ($8)
You really can't go wrong with this sheer nude named after Eva Chen, a former beauty editor.
Orly Nourishing Nude ($8)
This specialized Orly formula is also a great option if you're in the process of regrowing your nails after long-term use of gels or acrylics.
Olive & June CDJ, a Cool Neutral ($8)
We appreciate how Olive & June's neutral polishes are formulated to be warm or cool so you can choose what works best with your skin tone.
While the neon trend in the fashion world didn't last for more than a few seasons, these bright colors were still big with the beauty crowd, especially for summer manicures. We love the idea of using a few loud colors in one mani to make a statement, as pictured above.
Smith & Cult Suburban Warrior ($18)
Neon pink just screams summer.
Orly Glowstick ($8)
We wouldn't be surprised if this "glowstick" actually glows in the dark.
Essie Gallery Gal ($7)
So, so bright! Perfect for festival season.
Two of the top three most-requested nail polishes at Varnish Lane in 2019 were shades of gray. "It will always be on the most popular list and is a shade that looks great on all skin tones," says Dunne.
Zoya Megan ($10)
Varnish Lane clients love this opaque taupe gray with a hint of purple. "It looks great on all skin tones and translates well in every season and types of weather," says Dunne.
Veque Sea Cliff ($18)
This gray-blue hue was one of Hanna's most used polishes of 2019 and has quickly become one of her all-time favorites.
Deborah Lippmann Love in the Dunes ($20)
This light purple-gray was the most popular shade at Varnish Lane in 2019.
"A classic cherry red looks good on all nail shapes and lengths, whether it's a long or an equally chic shorter nail," says Tuttle. We agree—it's a totally timeless look.
Olive & June CV, a Cherry Red ($8)
This has been Olive & June's top-selling polish since it was released earlier in 2019.
Aila Bodega ($14)
As New Yorkers, we can't help but love this bright red shade named "Bodega." Dunne, in D.C., concurs.
Habit Cosmetics Tabou ($18)
This non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free brand makes a great orangey-hot red and is a personal favorite of Dunne's.
Chanel Pirate ($28)
Hanna's celebrity clients ask for this timeless classic (and quintessentially perfect red) again and again.
“We’re still not done with the ’90s nail moment," observes Tuttle. "We’ll continue to see darker polish colors reign supreme—black, or any variation on the hue like a chocolate brown, deep green, vampy plum, or midnight blue."
Deborah Lippmann Dark Side of the Moon ($20)
Even though this polish is named after a classic ’70s album, this shade is so ’90s.
Olive & June E+M, a Deep Black ($8)
A favorite of punks, emo kids, and fashion girls everywhere.
Olive & June CN, a Silky Sable Brown ($8)
Remember when all the ’90s supermodels had brown manicures? Iconic.
“Metallics are incredibly versatile and can work all year round," says Tuttle. She recommends wearing your favorite metallic shade as a solid color or adding it as a nail art accent for a subtle sparkle.
Orly Moonchild ($10)
"Not quite silver, not quite gold, this is the perfect metallic that looks great on every nail shape, length, and skin tone," says Hanna.
Essie There's No Place Like Chrome ($9)
Sport this bright silver shade and you'll feel indestructible.
According to Hanna, the classic French manicure made a major comeback in 2019. Think of it as leveling up your nude mani with a touch of nail art.
Orly Kiss Me I'm Kind ($8)
Hanna says this shade is the perfect base for a French and also her my go-to shade for negative space nail art.
Trending in 2020
Dunne predicts that dark greens will be very popular in 2020. "It's an extremely universally flattering shade and will get a ton of compliments," she believes.
Londontown Lakur Chivvy Along ($16)
Varnish Lane clients already love this deep-turquoise green polish.
Olive & June LL, an Emerald Green ($8)
Emerald is on-trend for engagement rings too—just saying.
All of our experts agree that classic blues will be big in 2020. Whether this has anything to do with the shade being named the Pantone color of the year, or just because it's a fun color to sport on your nails, they're all betting big on going blue.
Zoya Sailor ($10)
Dunne loves this dark blue shade from Zoya. It's a little deeper—almost navy—but still classic.
Deborah Lippmann Smoke Gets in Your Eyes ($14)
Dunne and her clients are obsessed with this nail polish. "It has the perfect hint of gray added to soften the blue," she says.
Olive & June HJ, a Shimmering Inky Navy ($8)
This deep, reflective dark blue is right up there with our favorite OPI and Essie classics.
On the flip-side of the ’90s trend, Hanna predicts we’ll pivot from dark moody colors to bright, poppy pastels. We'll definitely be trying this multicolored mani come spring.
Chanel Ballerina ($28)
How pretty is this pearly Chanel pink?
Orly Forget Me Not ($10)
We're all about those baby blues.
JINSoon Ube ($18)
Don't sleep on pastel purples!
Olive & June GH, a Baby Pink ($8)
This baby pink is simultaneously so ’90s and so timeless.
Orly Cotton Candy ($8)
We're definitely saving this super-saturated pink polish for our first beach vacation in 2020.
This article originally appeared on Who What Wear
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