Nude Nail Polish for Every Skin Tone

By Stephanie Saltzman

There was a time when nude nail polish—like Crayola's “Flesh” crayon—referred to exactly one color. That time has passed: The new nude polishes (like those we saw all over the fall 2014 runways) are definitely not a one-shade-fits-all proposition. See for yourself—check out 24 flattering shades that make your hands look younger, more graceful, and, well, more polished.



“The best neutral tone for fair skin is pink because it supports the pink and blue undertones in pale skin tones,” says manicurist Jin Soon Choi. The idea is to brighten and subtly enhance your nails while still letting them show through a little, so Choi recommends using a shiny, sheer formula.

Allure Tip: Don't layer it on too thick. “You're not necessarily trying to conceal the nail bed when you apply nude polish,” says Choi.

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Nail Enamel in Shell We Dance?

Related: Top Anti-aging Products $25 and Under



Another good option for pale skin? Opaque blush. It also has flattering pink undertones, but it offers more coverage and can help camouflage other fair-skin concerns. “A creamy pinkish nude with blue or yellow undertones counteracts redness,” says manicurist Jenna Hipp.

Allure Tip: A flesh-tone polish should approximate the look of healthy, glowing skin.

Estée Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Ballerina Pink



“Medium skin tones look best with a pink-y beige,” says Hipp. “It can help brighten the natural skin tone. It also looks fresh, clean, and current.” Hipp points out a benefit to wearing this shade that we didn't see coming: “Greenish veins are more likely to stand out on medium skin tones, so a good pink beige will distract, and soften your overall look, making hands appear more youthful.” Nail polish is basically an anti-ager. Who knew?

Jinsoon Nail Polish in Nostalgia

Related: The Naked Truth: Celebrities Go Nude for Allure



Pink not your thing? A subdued brownish beige is also flattering. Just beware of yellow undertones: “For medium skin, avoid nudes with yellow undertones because instead of enhancing it, the polish will bring out the subtle yellowness common to this skin tone, and it's simply not flattering,” says Hipp.

Allure Tip: Find your best nude by holding a sheer peachy beige or tan polish up to a bottle of your foundation.

Zoya Professional Lacquer in Farah



Sure, creamy beige sounds boring. But not when you hear Choi describe it: “Pale, creamy nude tones work well with medium skin tones because they highlight the inherent tan hue of the skin while providing just the right amount of contrast.” She makes the shade sound so appealing, we're now contemplating a head-to-toe beige outfit.

Essie Nail Polish in Fed Up



Another option for those with pale olive skin? Peach, which makes it look warm and glowing. “It's especially pretty in the summer months when skin tends to have a bit more of a tan,” says Hipp.

OPI Nail Lacquer in Coney Island Cotton Candy

Related: 34 Hair Ideas for 2014



If you have dark skin, you've got options. “Dark skin tones can handle the greatest variety of colors,” says Choi. But that doesn't mean she doesn't have a favorite: “Rosy beige. The beige component contrasts nicely with dark skin while the warm tone of rose complements it nicely.” The one shade Choi cautions anyone with dark skin against using is greige, which can create a dull, washed-out effect.

Zoya Professional Lacquer in Brigitte



A rule of thumb (and index fingers, ring fingers, etc.): If it sounds like something you'd order at Starbucks, it's probably good as a nail polish. “If you have dark skin, look for coffee-colored hues such as cocoa and mocha,” says Hipp. Those shades are the most natural on dark skin tones.

Allure Tip: Sometimes layering two different shades will get you to your perfect nude: “If the final effect isn't working on you, keep experimenting with different polishes or even combinations of polishes,” says Hipp.

HIPP x RGB Nail Tint in T4

Photos: Allure

More From Allure:
50 Beauty Products to Try Before You Die
Find the Best Haircut for Your Face Shape
Celebrity Hairstyles That Will Make You Look 10 Years Younger