Like the perfect nude shoe or nude lipstick, nude nails are a look that is always in style. When you’re not sure what color to get or if you’re looking for something more clean, classy, and understated vs trendy and flamboyant, nude nails are the answer. They’re quicker to do than complicated nail art, and they’ll match everything. Just as nude shoes visually lengthen your legs, nude nails also help create the same illusion of long, slender, tapered fingers. Nude nails are appropriate for events such as weddings and are a convenient, fuss-free option for vacations.
You’ll be in good company, too. Nude nails are the go-to look for celebrities, models, and even the British royal family!
We’re going to cover exactly what nude nails are, the suitable colors of nude nails, and how to find the right color. We’ll even go over some ways to do nude nails at home if you’re looking to save some money or want a break from the nail salon.
What are nude nails?
Nude nails are nails painted in a shade that closely matches your skin tone. This can range from peachy, rosy tones nudes to sandy, beige tones color to deeper browns. The term “nude nails” refers to the polish color, so you can get this style with gel nails, acrylics, porcelain, or your natural nails.
It differs from a French manicure which is painted a nude shade with white tips in that the whole nail is nude.
In the past, nude nails were all the same color. These days, there are new trends such as hi-lighting a couple of fingers with complimentary glitter or designs. You could even do different nude shades ranging from rosy browns to pinks on the same hand to keep things interesting.
More recently, nude nails have expanded to include colors that aren’t exactly a skin tone, like subdued corals, beige-brown, and even cool mauves. For this reason, nude nails are also referred to as “neutral nails”, since neutral colors include not only skin tones but also all the colors not found on a color wheel.
To keep the nude look, though, you don’t want to venture off into any color that is too clear and bright. Keep your nude nails in the realm of muted colors.
What are suitable colors for nude nails?
While nude nails are generally a tone that matches your skin color, you can get any nude shade you’d like. You can get a color that is lighter or deeper than your actual skin shade. Lighter colors will brighten your hands, while darker colors will make more of a statement. Nude shades can be as light as a pale blush, and as dark as a deep mocha color.
Let’s go over some of the most popular suitable colors for nude nails.
Clear Polish or Sheer Pink/Beige
Clear polish will let your natural nail color shine through. If you’d like to dress it up a little, you can opt for a sheer wash of pink or beige to give a hint of color.
Ombre Nude Nails
Ombre nails feature a color gradient, usually with a darker shade at the bottom near the cuticle. Then the color gets lighter towards the tip of the nail, often ending in white. This is a fresh, modern take on the French manicure, with the colors softly blending into each other. It’s also called “Baby Boomer” nails if you’d like to communicate this style to your manicurist.
Opaque Nude or Beige
These are the quintessential options for nude nails. Creamy and classic, they are the colors you’ll reach for again and again. An opaque finish elevates this staple.
We couldn’t leave nude pink shades off this list. Soft and feminine, pink shades are flattering and romantic.
Rose Gold and Shimmers
Make your nude manicure a bit more special by adding sparkle. Highlight one nail, or do all of them with a metallic or iridescent nude polish.
Brown is THE nude for deeper skin tones. It’s also an elegant color for all skin tones looking for a neutral look, especially during the fall and winter months.
How can I find the right shade of nude nail polish for my skin tone?
Finding the right shade of nude nail polish for your skin tone is important. While the color can vary from your skin color, the tone should not. That means you need to match your skin undertones to the polish undertones, whether they are warm or cool.
This might sound confusing – but it’s easy to determine with a few tips.
First, examine the veins around your face and neck. Green veins indicate a warm skin tone, while blue veins tend towards a cool skin tone.
You are warm if the base tone of your skin is yellow or gold. These people look best in gold jewelry and ivory and tend to tan easily. You are cool-toned if the base tone of your skin has blue, pink, or red. These people look best in silver jewelry and pure white and will burn rather than tan, or burn and then tan.
If you’re still unsure, you can test this by draping ivory or bright white fabric around your shoulders. Take a photo in natural light and see which color makes your skin glow, and which makes you look dull or unhealthy.
Now that you know your skin tone, you can choose the right shade of nude nail polish.
Peachy and golden nudes are flattering to warm-toned people, while cool-toned complexions look best with icy beige or pale baby pinks.
How do you do nude nails at home?
You’re in luck because nude nails are one of the easiest trends to try at home. These colors are more forgiving to inexpert application. As a bonus, chips won’t show as quickly.
For the easiest nude nails, you can do a basic manicure and then buff your nails. This involves polishing each nail with a progressively finer grit (just like sandpaper, but much more gentle) until they become shiny. Nail buffers are available at drugstores or beauty supply stores. Follow with a drop of oil to moisturize the nails and cuticles. Buffed nails let your natural nails take center stage. It will let your nails “rest” in case you need a break from drying polish and polish removers.
If you’d like to use a polish, do your manicure in your usual way while keeping a few tips in mind.
Nude nails look best on shorter nails. Choosing a shade similar to your skin will make your nails appear longer anyways, so don’t be afraid of filling them a little shorter than you’re used to. Also, natural nail shapes such as ovals and rounded squares suit a nude manicure more than sharper shapes. Examine the way your cuticle sits at the bottom of your nail. Then, try to mirror that shape at the tip of your nail with your file.
Unless you’re using a very opaque (non-see-through) polish, your natural nails will show through the color. For this reason, it’s important to make sure they’re in good condition. Lightly buff your nails to remove ridges and stains before polishing.
Be sure to finish your nude nails with a UV-resistant topcoat. The sun can alter the color of your polish and nude nails are more prone to this. Your perfect nude shade may end up with unflattering yellowing after a day at the beach!
You can finish your nails with an ultra-glossy top coat to help your manicure last longer. Reapply the top coat every two or three days.
Or, if you’d like to experiment with matte nails, here’s a hack you can try at home. Take a few drops of polish and add tiny amounts of cornstarch, mixing well with a toothpick. Then use polish as usual to get that trendy matte finish.