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The Best Nude Nail Polish Colors for Your Skin Tone

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Nude nail polish has come a long way. While it’s as classic as a little black dress or a staple red lipstick, for a long time a nude nail polish meant super light neutrals, French manicures, and light pinks. But as we know, nude is not a one-size-fits-all term, and doesn’t represent “flesh colors” as it suggests. Now more than ever, nude shades are beautifully diverse and can be used to create a chic and polished (pun intended!) look for every skin tone. It’s no wonder the minimalist look of a nude manicure is always trending—it’s neutral enough to match any outfit or style–all while playing up your natural beauty. Today, there are so many nude polish options that it can be hard to know which shade is right for you. Amy Lin, founder of the nail care brand Sundays, explains, "Similar to lipstick colors, choosing the right shade of nude polish can complement your skin tone or can make you look a bit washed out."


About the Expert:

Amy Lin is the founder of Sundays, an NYC-based nail care brand focused on wellness.

So how do you find your right nude polish shade? You first need to determine your skin tone and your skin's undertone. "No matter if your skin tone is fair, medium, or dark, your undertone can be cool, neutral or warm," Lin says. "If the base tone of your skin appears to be yellow, gold, or brown, your undertone is warm. For those who see pink, blue, purple hues underneath their skin, they will have a cool undertone. If one sees a mix of both colors, they will likely have a neutral tone. Another way is to find out if yellow-gold jewelry looks good on you [warm undertone] or rose gold and silver jewelry looks better [cool undertone]." For the best match, you always want your polish color's undertones to match yours. 

To help you find your perfect nude, we’ve compiled a list of our faves for every skin tone to take the guesswork out of finding the nude nail color for you. Below, check out our picks for the best nude nail polishes for every skin tone under the sun, so you can get the perfect nude manicure every time.

SUNDAYS Nail Polish in No. 04
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SUNDAYS Nail Polish No. 4

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Best for Fair Skin with Warm Undertones:

This ballerina pink is an instant classic. The subtle pink shade won't wash out your skin like some bright white or beige shades tend to do. Plus, SUNDAYS' formulas are all vegan, nontoxic, and free of harsh chemicals, giving your au natural look even more meaning. 

"I love SUNDAYS' nail polishes," one Ipster says. "The color lasts and doesn't easily chip. And it smells so pretty."

TRUST FUND BEAUTY Nail Polish in Adulting
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TRUST FUND BEAUTY Nail Polish

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Best for Fair Skin with Cool Undertones:

Here's another winning nail polish shade that looks great on fairer skin. This ultra-light pink will flatter cool pink undertones flawlessly. This light shade can also create a stunning contrast on deeper skin tones for a neutral manicure that still stands out. 

"Perfect subtle color but always gets lots of compliments," says Ipster Bridonathan. "Applies nicely and lasts for a while!"

Best Shimmery Nude for Fair Skin Tones:

Embrace your inner ballerina with this delicate "ballet slipper pink" that’s also extremely long-wearing and chip-resistant. For maximum staying power, begin with a clear base coat, then apply two coats of this pink nude for a manicure with maximum staying power.

INARA COSMOBEAUTY Nail Polish in Proud Coat
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INARA COSMOBEAUTY Nail Polish

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Best for Light to Medium Skin Tones:

If your skin tone falls somewhere between light and medium, opt for this polish with faint peachy undertones to instantly warm up your complexion and give your hands a nice glow all year-round. P.S., if you love a classic French manicure, this makes for a killer base color.

"What a great neutral," one Ipster says. "This has been a fabulous base color for some fun designs."

DEFY & INSPIRE Nail Polish in Pinky Swear
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DEFY & INSPIRE Nail Polish

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Best for Medium Skin with Warm Undertones:

For a soft pink more suited to medium skin tones, try this classic nude shade with a mauve undertone. While it can sometimes be challenging to get a streak-free mani with lighter shades, this long-wearing, ultra-pigmented formula provides opaque coverage just two coats. 

"This is the best nail polish I have ever used," says Ipster cgray8uw. "It lasts for days without a clear top coat. It is nice and thick so you can get away with one coat if you're pressed for time. It is a soft and even application."

SUNDAYS Nail Polish in No. 6
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SUNDAYS Nail Polish No. 6

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Best for Medium Skin with Cool Undertones:

Here's another SUNDAYS polish perfect for those with medium skin and cooler undertones. This shade has a soft pinkish hue similar to the other SUNDAYS polish featured above, but it’s less saturated for a barely-there polish that always looks chic and professional. 

"Great color and smooth," says Ipster Xelaju46. "Dry-down time is good. Good color build up."

NATURE'S CARTEL Nail Polish in Tactful Denial
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NATURE'S CARTEL Nail Polish

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Best Shimmery Nude for Medium Skin Tones:

This is pearly pink shade is proof that nude nail polish can also be extremely fun. This sandy shade is an ideal pick for those with medium skin tones, and especially flattering on cool undertones. 

"Really love the feminine, soft shades of color that Nature's Cartel uses," one Ipster writes. “This color is so soft but very noticeable. The hint of shimmer is the perfect amount."

PRETTY WOMAN Nail Polish in Nude or Nothing
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PRETTY WOMAN Nail Polish

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Best for Medium Skin with Neutral Undertones:

This glossy polish is not only the perfect nude shade, but it's hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, paraben- and sulfate-free, and vegan, too. Wear it on its own for a beautiful neutral manicure, or use it as a base for a more experimental nail art look.

HOUSE OF MAKEUP Nail Lacquer in Flat White
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HOUSE OF MAKEUP Nail Lacquer

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Best for Olive Skin Tones with Neutral Undertones:

This true neutral shade will perfectly contrast olive skin tones. The gel-like formula is also super long-lasting so you can sail through the week chip-free. 

"This color was amazing and it stayed on my nails without chipping for SO LONG," an Ipster writes.

COLOR CLUB Nail Polish in Nothing But A Smile
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COLOR CLUB Nail Polish

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Best for Olive Skin with Warm Undertones:

The key to a great nude shade is to go a shade or two lighter than your natural skin tone. So for olive to dark skin tones, this classic tan shade is a great choice, especially if you have cool or neutral undertones. Did we mention it's so super durable? 

After applying this color one Ipster writes, "I painted my nails a week ago and they have not chipped!!!"

MEG COSMETICS Twin Nail Polish in Lovey Dovey
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MEG COSMETICS Twin Nail Polish

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Best for Medium to Dark Skin Tones:

Here's a fun duo to instantly liven up your nude mani. This soft taupe will effortlessly flatter medium to dark skin tones for a chic, subtle contrast. If you're looking for a way to liven up that neutral mani, use the blue-grey nail polish color on your ring fingers as an unexpected accent nail. 

After rocking this nail polish shade, one Ipster reports that she got "so many compliments on this delicate color." She adds, "It’s a very durable polish."

NAILS.INC NAIL POLISH Nail Polish in Montpelier Walk
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NAILS.INC Nail Polish

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Best for Dark Skin with Cool Undertones:

This neutral pink is a great way to create subtle contrast on dark skin tones while still keeping the overall nail look minimalistic. Paint on this polish knowing that it won't only make your nails look good, it'll make them feel good as well. This formula is made with a blend of vitamins, calcium, keratin, and zinc which help keep the nails healthy and strong.

"I love this basic nude color," says Ipster savanahty. "It’s super cute but still professional. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments."

Best for Dark Skin with Warm Undertones:

For deeper skin tones, this caramel nude is an absolute must. This rapid drying polish is another one you can feel good about wearing on the regular as it also doubles as a nail treatment. The formula comes infused with a nourishing blend of fruit and flower oils that help to keep your nails looking great and feeling even better.

Best Shimmery Nude for Dark Skin Tones:

For another expert study in contrast, pair this shimmery neutral polish with a deep skin tone. The pale quartz color is bound to make this complexion glow. Whether you paint this on in the middle of summer or all throughout winter, the evergreen shade is a great go-to that's made without any questionable ingredients.

Love any of these nude polishes? Let us know @IPSY.

Want in on all the IPSY Glam Bag fun? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

About the author
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Cortney Clift
Cortney is a New York-based freelance writer who has written about beauty and wellness for more than six years. She was previously the senior writer and special projects editor at Brit + Co where she covered a wide range of news and lifestyle topics.
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Article Last Updated July 6, 2021 12:00 AM