According to celebrity nail artist Tom Bachik (whose clients include Jennifer Lopez, Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez, Kerry Washington, Kim Kardashian, and Shay Mitchell), there’s some artistic strategy to choosing the most flattering shade of nude nail polish for your skin tone—but it’s probably not what you think. Personally, I’ve always assumed that the best shade of nude would mirror the color of my fingertips to a tee, but as Bachik and other celebrity manicurists promptly informed me, that’s not exactly the most strategic shopping plan if you’re hunting for your personal perfect hue of nude. Oops.
“The current trend for a chic, sophisticated nude nail color is to either go a shade lighter or a shade darker than your actual skin tone, which gives a subtle yet intentional vibe to your manicure,” Bachik explains to me. That said, and as I’ve previously mentioned, one of the things I love most about the beauty industry right now is that there are no rules, and you should never feel limited when it comes to your beauty aesthetic—be it nail finish, color, or shade pairings—your options extend to infinity and beyond.
Bachik agrees. “The thing I don’t want to happen is for someone to look at a particular color as only for a particular skin tone or shade,” he tells me. “Color is about style, fashion preference, and fun! If you love a color, rock it—whether it’s a traditional or trendy shade for your skin tone or not.” I couldn’t agree more, so I compiled a hearty list of 26 (yes, 26) of the best nude nail colors. And, yes, I asked four of the top celebrity nail artists in the industry which ones they especially love for certain skin tones, but I invite you to use the below as a very loose guide and more of a large smattering of shade inspiration instead. Curious to see which nude nail colors celebrity manicurists hoard to suit clients of all skin tones? Keep scrolling.