What color nail polish was popular in the 60s?

Want to know what color nail polish was popular in the 60s? Then welcome my lovely, this post is for you.

Perhaps you’re getting ready to host a 1960’s-themed party and want to make sure your nails are on point.

Or maybe you’re just interested in fashion trends from that era.

Whatever the reason, If you’re inspired by hippies, mad for mods, or crazy about beatniks, read on.

We’re about to deep dive into 60’s nails.

Need a fast answer?

Here’s the nutshell answer for what color nail polish was popular in the 60s:

White, silver, and clear were some of the most popular nail polish colors in the 60s. Pastel shades of pink, coral, and orange were also widely worn. Coffee browns, sea blues/greens, and tan nails were also popular in the 1960s. French manicured nails and scarlet red nails were also in fashion.

Alrighty, now that you know some of the popular shades, let’s go a bit deeper and really get a grip on the 1960s nail scene.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

1960s nail polish colors

1960s nail polsih colors https://nailhow.com/what-color-nail-polish-1960s/

Back in the 60s, eye makeup and bold fashion pieces did the talking.

So, for a lot of women, nails took a back seat.

The classic red nails that were popular throughout the fifties gave way to more subtle sherbert shades and barely-there colors during the 60’s.

Natural nails were all the rage.

This brings me to our first 1960’s nail polish “color” you can wear. No color at all!

Clear polish

clear nail polish https://nailhow.com/what-color-nail-polish-1960s/

The ’60s was the first decade that nail strengtheners (advertised as “plasticizers”) were introduced, so a lot of women wore only “clear” nail polish.

This new clear manicure was very much associated with the mod trend.

This manicure has 2 very clear (pun intended) advantages:

  1. It makes your nails look shiny (all things shiny were worshipped in the 60’s).
  2. It doesn’t clash with the bold colors of popular clothing and makeup.

Clear polish also helps you to grow your nails longer and doesn’t show chips.

You can wear it for a long time and it won’t look shabby.

White nail polish

White nail polish was extremely popular throughout the 1960s.

Partly because it goes so well with a major fashion trend of the time, white gogo boots.

If you’re recreating an authentic 60’s look, you’ll need to wear a bright, pure, white like OPI’s Alpine Snow (click to check price on amaon).

Pure white nails were very much part of the mod trend.

Ok, so we know that clear or white polish is a good choice for a 60’s look, but what about some stronger color nail polish?

Silver nail polish

The ’60s were all about the shine, baby!

Vinyl was invented, and anyone who was anyone was wearing this new shiny fabric.

To capitalize on this trend, in 1967 Cutex released 4 new shades of silver nail polish.

Silver was the nail color to be seen in during the mid to late 60s.

Pastel polish shades

Pastel colors were big in the 60s for both clothes and nails.

Pretty much any pastel shade you can think of was popular, but some of the most fashionable were baby blue, mint green, pale pink, and peach.

To get an authentic 60’s look, try painting your nails in OPI’s Mod About You (check price on amazon) or Sally Hansen’s Tickled Pink.

Frosted and pearl effects

We’ve already learned that nails took a little bit of a back seat to the bold eye makeup and loud fashion during the 60s.

The nail scene in the 60s was less about the colors and more about the finish.

2 types of polish that were new and trendy in the 60s were “frosted” and “pearlized” nail polish.

In 1966, Clairol released the first-ever frosted nail polish collection, called “Extra-Frosted”.

Women went crazy for it, and nail polish makers like Cutex and Max Factor rushed to get their pearl and frosted nail polishes to market.

Cutex quickly brought out their Frosted Ice collection, and Max Factor released a “Frosted pearlings” collection.

Lots of reds and pinks became available in pearl versions that almost look metallic.

Frosted and pearled pinks were incredibibly popular.

Pearlised nail polish has a subtle shimmer that sparkles, almost like glitter.

To get the look, choose any polish with a pearlescent or satin sheen finish for your next manicure.


nude nail polish https://nailhow.com/what-color-nail-polish-1960s/

Since natural and subtle nails were trending in the ’60s, nude nails became a thing.

At first, they were marketed as “fingertip tans”.

Pale, beigy, browny polishes started to hit the shelves, and nail colors like “coffee” and “tan” became quite popular.

Here are some examples of nude nail polish shades that were sold by Revlon in 1964:

  • Pink sand
  • Driftwood tan
  • Tan tan
  • Butter pecan

Want the look?

For this style, a great choice for a true vintage tan is to wear Essie’s Wild Nude.

I also can’t get enough of Spencer by Zoya.

Pink and red

Red and pink have been staple colors since ancient nail polish was invented.

In the ’60s, hot pink became quite popular, as well as softer, pastel baby pinks.

Pearled pinks were bang on trend.

Coral red shades (red nail polish mixed with orange) were also widely available.

But when it comes to red nail polish, the most iconic 60’s shade is scarlet.

If you like hot pink try Zoya’s Dacey.

My current favorite mod pale pink is Essie’s Minimalistic.

A stunning 60’s scarlet – Ming by Zoya.


Orange was another very popular nail color in the 60s.

Like red and pink, orange has been a go-to color since nail polish was invented.

But it was especially trendy in the 60s when women were experimenting with new shades and bolder colors.

For 60’s vibes, think yellowy-oranges like apricot and peachy shades. Nothing too vibrant.

I like Lulu and Sawyer (both Zoya).

Blue and green nail polish

Sea blues and greens, especially ones with a pearl finish, were very fashionable in the 60’s.

Teal was especially popular, but other pastel shades of blue and green were also widely available.

If you want to go all out 60’s with your nails, try a seafoam shimmer polish like Zoya’s Fisher or a bold teal like Essie’s Garden Variety.

1960s nail shape

1960s nail shape https://nailhow.com/what-color-nail-polish-1960s/

So, we’ve talked about the hot nail polish colors from the swinging 60s, but what about the nail shape?

Well, oval nails were very popular in the 1950’s, and many women still kept their nails in the oval shape in the sixties.

But the fashion-forward folks also began to sport round and almond-shaped nails.

Round nails were popular in the 60s because they are very practical, and perfect for both work and play.

Almond nails were a little more trendy, and were worn by the fashionistas of the time.

1960s makeup

So, let’s take a brief look at what was going on in the beauty industry in the 1960s.

Matching your lipstick and your nail polish was a huge look in the 60s.

Many 1960s make up brands like Max Factor and Revlon, brought out the lip and tip combos or other matching products to capitalize on this trend.

The classic red lip was combined with a classic red nail color.

There was even matching nude lipstick and nail polish products.

Matching nail and lipstick colors were in all the magazines and were worn by the top icons of the decade like Twiggy, Mary Quant and Audrey Heburn.

These women were the epitome of 1960s beauty

Retro nails

1960s retro nails https://nailhow.com/what-color-nail-polish-1960s/

If you wanna try some vintage-inspired nails, then go for it!

There are so many ways to rock 1960s nail art, whether you want to keep it simple with a classic nude or red, or go all out with a bold teal or seafoam green.

Hippie inspired pshyadelic swirls, geometric designs and polka dots are all awesome 60s nail trends to try out!

Final thoughts:

In our what color nail polish was popular in the 60s article, we have explored the different nail polish colors that were all the rage in the 1960s. 

We looked at what types of finishes and shades were available during that time period, as well as which shapes nails were in style. 

Finally, we talked about how to achieve a retro look with your nails by using either current polishes or nail art techniques.

I hope you enjoyed learning about popular nail colors and that you”ll have fun experimenting with 60s nails!

You’re sure to turn heads with your retro style.

So, classic red shades? Frosted and pearled pinks?

What are your favorite nail polish shades to wear from the 1960s?

If you liked what color nail polish was popular in the 60s, you may like:

Popular polich colors of the 70s

1920s polish colors that were all the rage.

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  • Phoebe Meadows

    Phoebe Meadows is a self-proclaimed nail addict, always on the lookout for the latest trends and techniques. When she's not creating stunning nail designs, you can find her researching the latest nail care products or experimenting with new techniques.