How a Color Specialist Recommends Picking the Perfect Nail Polish – Every Time

When you invest any amount of time and money into a manicure, whether it’s an at-home DIY or paying top dollar at your favorite nail bar, there’s nothing worse than second-guessing your color choice when all is said and done.  But guaranteeing you make the perfect polish choice is a LOT easier than you think!  Here are the top tips, from your resident color specialist, to pick the right polish for your mani/pedi – every time.

First, it’s important to have a general idea of which colors work best with your skin tone. 

At a very basic level, cool complexions (pink) pair perfectly with other cool colors (think blue undertones) while warm complexions (peach and golden) look best with other warm colors (yellow undertones).  Neutral skin tones (pink peach and olive) are the most versatile and look best with other neutral colors (not too warm or cool).

Here’s a handy reference chart to see where your skin tone lines up:

As a quick example, if you want to rock an all-white manicure, choose a tone that compliments your complexion.  Instead of a true, bright white, your nails might suit you better in a warm sandstone or champagne verses a cool oyster or porcelain.

Rather than a hibiscus or crimson red, opt for a warm cinnamon or neutral wine polish.  Add a fun pop of color with a mossy green rather than a jewel-toned emerald.  You get the idea!

If you want to eliminate all the guesswork and finally know what your most flattering colors are, I can’t recommend a [Virtual] Personal Color Analysis enough!  With your own customized, digital color palette in hand, you’ll have 35 foolproof color choices for not only your next manicure, but for choosing clothing, cosmetics, accessories, interior decor, and personal branding.  From dark and light neutrals to your best pinks and reds, pastels, and metallics, your nail polish color options will feel (almost) endless.  You can learn all about the process right here. 

AND when you book this service in June 2021, you’ll also get my limited-time Extended Makeup Palette bonus, including 15 additional cosmetic focused colors! I’ll go way beyond demystifying your skin tone to reveal your best bets for eyeshadow, concealer, foundation, bronzer or highlighter, blush, and lipstick colors so you can show up online and in-person looking flawless, filter-free.

With your best colors in hand, you can easily mix and match them to take advantage of all the latest trends: indie (different patterns on each individual nail), multi-colored (a different, but complimentary, hue on every nail), out-of-the-box French manicure (uniquely colored tips), etc.

Here are a few more safe bets for a beautiful result:

  • your eye color
  • your blush color
  • your natural lip color
  • your hair color

Now that you know which colors work well for you, let’s look at a few practical tips to ensure the polish actually matches your vision!

If you’re not going DIY and you have a favorite nail polish color that your salon doesn’t carry, bring it with you from home!  Most salons only offer certain brands and may not have your favorite hues in stock.  If you are a frequent customer and have a good relationship with your nail tech, they should be willing to paint with your own product.  Be sure the polish you supply is of good quality and don’t expect them to re-do their work if your polish chips faster than usual or doesn’t apply properly.  They can’t guarantee a product they don’t recommend in their salon, but it’s always worth a shot!

If you’re like me and you pick your color from looking at the bottles on the shelves, ask to see a painted sample before you commit.  Sometimes nail polish looks totally different in the bottle than it does when it’s applied, especially metallic ones!  Seeing the polish on a painted nail sample can give you a better idea of how it will look with only 2 or 3 coats.  If you’ve arrived at your appointment a few minutes early, they may also let you take the painted sample outside to see if you like it in natural daylight. 

When all else fails and you hate your final hue, – hey, it happens! – ask your nail technician if they have time to change the color.  This probably won’t make them do a happy dance, but if you’re a faithful, low-maintenance customer, they should be willing to make an exception for you.  I ONLY recommend asking if you truly detest the color and it looks completely different than it does in the bottle and on the painted sample.  Please don’t take advantage by asking at every appointment!  Obviously, it’s also best if you ask before they’ve finished perfectly painting all 10 fingers and/or toes!

If it’s taken you a few days to decide you just can’t live with the hue you’ve picked, most salons offer a nail polish change service for less than half the price of a full manicure.  This would enable you to have a professional paint-job without paying top dollar for a buffing and filing again so soon. 

And there you have it!  Knowing your best colors, working with your skin tone, and taking your time to confirm what’s in the bottle will all help you guarantee the perfect polish choice – every time.

Now tell me in the comments, how do you pick your perfect polish?  Do you have any additional tips or questions I didn’t touch on?  Let’s continue the conversation below!

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