Here Are the 12 Most Flattering Shades of Nail Polish for Every Skin Tone


Nail polish is pretty universal. But there are certain shades that happen to be particularly flattering on certain skin tones, whether that means they perfectly match complexion undertones or they provide just enough contrast to make nails pop. I, for one, swear by RevlonВ Wild Card Nail Polish ($5), since the bold cobalt blue never fails to complement the slight summer tan I sport each July and August. As for the winter months, when my skin is a tad paler, I reach for OPIВ Lincoln Park After Dark ($11), which is aВ unique combination of red, purple, and black that looks striking against my skin. Seriously, it's been my go-to for years.

These are my favorite seasonal nail polishes because they're flattering to my complexion. I happily stumbled upon them. If you aren't so lucky and you have yet to find your nail polish soul mate, keep scrolling to see the most flattering shades for every skin tone.В

Dark/Deep Skin Tones

Context Nail Lacquer in Unfaithful $15Shop

For deep skin tones,В David Arbuthnot, founder of chic beauty brand Context Skin, recommends vivid and floralВ shades of red and pink. These colors are classics, which means they never go out of season or style.В Along with this shade called Unfaithful, he also suggestsВ Don't Cry ($15), which is a mauve pink, andВ Showstopper ($15), which is a fiery red-orange.

Zoya Nail Polish in Donnie $10Shop

According toВ Rebecca Isa, creative director at Zoya, which is one of Byrdie's favorite nail brands, "dark skin tones work well with a bold color choice due to cooler undertones." She like's the shade Donnie by Zoya, which is "a bright, purple-toned sangria cream."

CГґte Nail Lacquer in No. 57 $18Shop

How fun is this bright-yellow shade from CГґte? It's literally the color of bottled sunshine. It comes recommended by Leah Yari, the brand's co-founder, who calls it the perfect "statement color" for people with deep skin tones. Also try CГґte'sВ Nail Lacquer in No. 50 ($18), which is a striking orange-red, and the brand's Nail Lacquer in No. 49 ($18), which is an earthy clay color.В

Essie Nail Color in Mink Muffs $9Shop

Essie celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec also recommends bright hues for deep skin tones. She like's Essie'sВ Forever Yummy ($9), which is a cool red, andВ Butler Please ($9), which is a poppy blue. Both of those shades are stunning, and we recommend checking them out if you haven't laid eyes on them already. However, if super-bright shades aren't your thing, have no fear. She also recommends "mocha nudes," like this shade, called Mink Muffs. "I used this on Viola Davis when she won her Oscar for Fences," Kandalec says.В

Medium/Olive Skin Tones

Context Nail Lacquer in Sugarland $15

As for medium and/or olive skin tones, Arbuthnot says a variety of nail polish shades are particularly flattering, like this bubblegum-pink called Sugarland. He also lovesВ Slow Down ($15), which is a rosy mauve, andВ Nightrain ($15), which is a moody and dark plum color.В

Zoya Nail Polish in Karen $10Shop

"Medium-to-olive can wear a wide range of colors, Isa says. "All will work great with your skin tone. It's best to stick with shades that complement. For example, if your skin is warmer, go for shades that have red and orange undertones like Zoya's Karen, a poppy red cream."

CГґte Nail Lacquer in No. 65 $18Shop

Remember how we said a wide range of shadesВ is especially flattering to medium/olive skin? Yari backs that up, again, by recommending this bright teal blue shade for a statement color. She also loves CГґteВ Nail Lacquer in No. 38 ($18), which is wine red, and No. 7 ($18), which is a creamy pink.В

Essie Nail Color in Imported Bubbly $9Shop

The theme of "juicy" and "pastel" shades for medium skin tone persists with Kandalec's recommendations. First, she likes Essie'sВ Sunday Funday ($9), which is a bright coral. Then, she suggestsВ Baguette Me Not ($9), which is a "mod pastel" lilac. She mixes it up, though, by recommending a sheer, slightly sparkly shade, called Imported Bubbly. Use this polish and your nails will sparkle and glint, without being ostentatious.В В

Fair/Light Skin Tones

Context Nail Lacquer in Panama $15Shop

If you haveВ light skin,В use a shade that's light and ethereal, like this sandy beige shade that looks so fresh and airy it's almost transparent. These hues, along with light pastels, will prove particularly flattering. If beige isn't you're thing, Arbuthnot also suggestsВ Dream On ($15), which is cloud-white, andВ Ain't Love Strange ($15), which is a dusty pink.В

Zoya Nail Polish in Sandy $10Shop

According to Isa, "Fair skin tones are typically cooler with a blue undertone, so go for shades that are similar to Sandy by Zoya. Sandy is a blue-toned, flamingo-pink cream."

CГґte Nail Lacquer No. 77 $18Shop

Yari also suggest light shades, like CГґteВ No. 10 Nail Lacquer ($18), which is a soft and sheer pink. However, if you're looking for something a little bolder, she says you can't go wrong with this strong midnight-blue shade. Similarly, CГґteВ Nail Lacquer in No. 99 ($18), which is a creamy charcoal gray, serves as the perfect statement shade.

Essie High Class Affair $9Shop

Aside from this gorgeous peachy nude shade, Kandelac likes usingВ Buy Me a Cameo ($9), which is a warm gold with a chrome finish, for fair skin. She also loves using a fire-engine red, like the brand'sВ Really Red ($9), for a truly striking finish.

Now that you have some gorgeous new polishes to test, check out a small collection of the best nail polish brands of 2018, according to Byrdie editors.