Nail polish color is an accessory; it has to complement your complexion. But finding the perfect nude for your skin tone can be a daunting task. It can require trying on an insane amount of shades before you find the one that is just right for you. To help narrow it down, Zoya Creative Director Rebecca Isa says to “first determine the intensity of your complexion — if you’re light, medium or dark. Then determine if you have a warm or cool undertone.” Look at the underside of your wrist; if your veins are blue, you have a cool undertone and if your veins are green, you are warm. Celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann suggests looking at your unpolished nail bed to help guide you as well. “Usually, nail beds are pink, white or the same color as your skin. A nude polish that matches your nail bed will most likely match your skin tone.” She also suggests looking at your cuticles for answers. If the nude lacquer isn’t right for your skin tone, your cuticle will actually look red or “dirty.”
For women with very fair complexions, Lippmann advises them to steer clear of polishes that are too beige or too dark, “they will make their hands look pale and sickly.” Instead, look for colors with cool undertones with a hint of pink to help offset any redness in the skin and cuticles. “Most nude shades will suit women with medium skin tones,” continues Lippmann, “but they should try to stay away from shades that have too much of a yellow undertone, or are too pink. For this complexion, they ideally want to stay somewhere in between.” Those with more yellow undertones should choose a nude that is a bit bolder to help brighten the complexion. A lacquer with a bit more pink in it will help give the skin a natural glow; avoid shades with yellow undertones. Olive complexions should try deep beiges or a very light neutral caramel color.
Warmer, honey-hued ladies, like Beyoncé, percolate in coffee-colored shades with orange and yellow undertones. “Avoid ashy gray shades as they could make skin appear washed out or dull,” advises Lippmann. While those with cinnamon-brown complexions look great in milky browns that lighten up the nail and give slight contrast. According to Isa, mahogany brown women look divine in deep browns with a bit of red and onyx-colored gals excel in shades of dark chocolate with a bit of mauve.
But if you still end up picking a nude tone that is slightly off for your undertone don’t worry, the perfectors in Zoya’s Naked Manicure system (available mid-June at Zoya.com) can resolve the problem. Perfectors are tinted sheers that contain micronized reflective color pigments and optical diffusers that you put under or over your polish to adjust the tone of the color. The lavender perfector can make a color cooler, the buff one makes colors warmer, the pink perfector adds a pink glow and the mauve one makes them richer or darker.
And remember, nude polish no longer means boring. It doesn’t have to be the dull, opaque finish of seasons past. “That look gave your hands a plastic mannequin dimension. The new way to wear nudes is with a dewy finish,” says Isa. “Start off with one coat of an opaque nude as your base, then layer over it a sheerer nude to give the color a nice, soft sheen, like it has sunlight reflecting off of it.” This will help prevent the lacquer from looking too heavy and saturated.
So no matter what your coloring, there is a nude out there for you. Click through our gallery of 22 barely-there shades to find the right one.