There’s nothing like a manicure to make yourself feel a little better. Whether you go to a salon or going the DIY route, looking down at freshly painted nails has the effect of making you feel put together, even when everything else in your life isn’t exactly that way at the moment. And because nude nails are an under-the-radar look that others around you might not notice, for me, a manicure just gives me a secret little boost of feel-good confidence. And don’t we all need just that sometimes?
While we love the dramatic look of
deep red, springy pastels, and creative nail art, you really can’t go wrong with a natural hue. It looks effortless, elegant, and understated all at once. Plus, these shades will look good even if you’re giving yourself an at-home manicure and are struggling with a shaky hand. Take a look at some of our favorites below for all skin tones.
Beauty editor Erin Jahns posted about this color on Instagram a few weeks ago. She said it’s one of her favorite natural shades right now. The sheer tan on nails looks like you don’t even have color on, it’s that subtle.
Creamy and sheer, this one’s good if pink undertones don’t quite work with your skin tone.
This nude color leaves a glossy, lacquered finish with just two coats. The brush is another added bonus. The handle is inspired by calligraphy brushes and has a triangular head for extra precision and no air bubbles.
Wearing this shade is as close as you’re going to get to wearing nothing at all, which I hope thrills minimalist manicure fans everywhere. It’s a sheer, pearly white that makes for a good staple in your nail polish collection.
A creamy shade with some yellow tones, this 8-free and vegan polish is a pretty and subtle nude.
There’s a reason Ballet Slippers is a classic and a cult favorite: it’s a subtle and pretty opaque pink. Plus, it looks good on a variety of skin tones. Did we mention it’s a favorite of Queen Elizabeth II, and both Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle have worn the shade?
This light-pink polish is non-toxic (aka free of parabens, phthalate, formaldehyde, and other not-great-for-you ingredients) and vegan.
With a hint of peach, this pinky polish will work well for people with medium skin tones. The two-step system of color and topcoat is about as close as you can get to a gel manicure at the salon.
Yes, we are adding another beige, pinky shade to this list. You can’t really tell in this product photo, but it is a bit of a darker pink than the other opalescent pinks in this roundup.
A step above a light-pink/light-peach polish, this bright shade is a creamy coral that works well if you don’t want a super-loud color but also don’t want to stick with your classic nude shades.
Another shade that looks like you’re not wearing anything at all, this beige-pink color is another good option if you want that “anti-manicure” manicure. The polish itself is quick-drying and has a chip-proof finish.
If you want that natural look but also feel like trying something new, you can opt for this neutral that has a bit of purple-gray tones mixed in. It’s not quite a pink/peach/nude classic, but it’s still understated.
This beige-pink polish has extra good-for-your-nails ingredients like evening primrose, biotin, and green tea extract.
Opt for this pinky beige if you have a medium skin tone. The polish itself leaves a glossy, shiny finish on your nails.
Another classic neutral, this one can work with a variety of skin tones. The description calls it “slightly toasted.”
If you prefer a sheer look, you’ll like this universally flattering shade that’s a warm beige.
Perfectly pink and neutral, you’ll want to add this Chanel polish to your rotation. And it’ll make your nails look and feel good, too, since the formula contain bioceramics and ceramides to strengthen.
Smith & Cult’s Doe My Dear is another shade that’s a step above your classic neutrals. This one is a gray-taupe hue.
And if you want full coverage instead of something sheer, this taupe-brown hue will do the trick.
This is a cooler tan since it has white undertones. The neutral shade has a high-gloss finish.
This color has just a hint of red, which gives it a rich, warm color. The polish has a shiny finish to give it some extra oomph.
We love this rich and creamy brown that has hints of orange. It’s another one to try if you’re looking for something that’s slightly different from your regular nudes or beige shades.
When we interviewed celebrity nail artist Betina Goldstein for another story on polishes, she said this deep beige and rich caramel shade was one of her all-time favorites.
Celebrity nail artist Karen Gutierrez advised us that if you have a darker skin tone, you should go one to two shades lighter or darker when choosing a nude-colored polish. She recommended this Zoya shade with a soft orange undertone.
This warm caramel brown is another standout neutral for people with darker skin tones. Next up, we’re just going to say it—these 13 gel polish brands rival a salon manicure.