Nail color dilemma? Here’s How to Choose Your Right Shade

Welcome my lovelies! This post is going to help you answer the question: what nail polish color should I get?

You might wanna grab a drink/make yourself comfy before we start.

Because we’re about to deep dive into this.

We’ll talk about matching up nail colors based on your skin tone, your outfits, your personality, and your personal style.

We’ll also look at trending nail colors, the most flattering polish shades, occasions, seasons, and nail polish meanings you should be aware of.

By the end of this post, you’ll have a very good idea of what nail color you should get.

Sound good?

Here’s the full table of contents:

What nail color should you get for your skin tone?

I have written a full and very detailed post on how to match nail polish to your skin tone.

The basic idea is first to try to match the depth and intensity of your skin color.

So light/softer colors for light skin, and dark/bolder colors for darker skin.

To find the perfect match for your skin, you’ll also need to know if your skin tone is warm, cool, or neutral.

If you already know your skin tone, great!

If not, check out this guide to figuring out your skin tone.

Here’s a handy reference guide for skin tones and the nail colors that suit them:

What nail color should I get for cool fair skin?

Choose nail colors that are light and/or pastel colors with cool (blue) undertones.

Here are some examples of the kinds of colors you should get and specific polish shade recommendations for your skin type:

  • Cool grays (Like Essie’s the Bestest or Zoya’s Vickie)
  • Pastel blues (OPI’s to be continued and Essie’s Sway in crochet are great)
  • Lavender purples (Zoya’s Miley and Essie’s Nice is Nice suit fair cools)
  • Baby pinks (Try Zoya’s dot or OPI’s Baby take a vow)
  • Cool greens (Zoya’s Harbour, OPI’s That’s hularious, and Essie’s Mint candy apple)
  • Rose pinks (like OPI’s Rice rice baby or Zoya’s Madeline)

I hope that’s given you some inspiration for your next manicure!

Warm fair skin

If you’re warm and fair, you should get nail colors that are delicate and that have a warm yellow or orange undertone.

Here are some examples of the kinds of colors you should get and specific polish shade recommendations for the warm fair skin type:

  • Peach and coral (like Zoya’s Tessa and OPI’s set in sandstone)
  • Warm and pale baby pinks (Essie’s Pin me pink and OPI’s it’s a girl are good)
  • Blush (Try Zoya’s Avril or Essie’s Ladylike)
  • Reddish purples (OPI greatly admired and Essie’s set the scene work well)
  • Light teal (Zoya’s Wednesday and Garden Variety from Essie)
  • Soft yellows (like Zoya’s Bee and Essie’s Atelier at the bay)

Hopefully that should give my warm fairs some ideas!

Fair neutral skin

If you have a neutral undertone, you’re lucky because you can wear most colors!

To find the perfect nail polish for your skin type, look at the options above and choose the ones you like best.

If you’re not sure which ones to go for, think about the colors you like to wear the most, that can sometimes help.

Cool medium skin

If you have a cool medium skin tone, you should look for nail colors that have a blue or purple undertone.

Jewel tones look stunning on this skin type.

Here are some examples of the kinds of colors you should get and specific polish shade recommendations for the cool medium skin type:

  • Silver (try Zoya’s Trixie or Essie’s in my orbit)
  • Bluish Grays (Essie’s Once upon a time and Zoya’s Kristen are perfect)
  • Magenta (give Zoya’s Fallon or OPI’s No turning back from pink st a go)
  • Amethyst (Essie’s Breaking the bold or Zoya’s Tina will look stunning)
  • Emerald (Essie’s Jade to measure and Zoya’s Giovanna are beautiful)
  • Sapphire (Opi’s Blue my mind or Zoya’s Jen will look amazing)

Violet shades and ruby reds will also work for my cool medium beauties.

Warm medium skin

If you have a warm medium skin tone, you should look for nail colors that are rich and earthy with a warm undertone.

Here are some examples of the kinds of colors you should get and specific polish shade recommendations for the warm medium skin type:

  • Light to mid browns (Zoya’s Flynn or Essie’s Truth or Bare are good examples)
  • Yellows (Essie’s Hay there and OPI’s One chic chick are great for you)
  • Ivory (Essie’s Mixtaupe or Zoya’s Jaqueline will work)
  • Lime green (Zoya’s Tilda or OPI’s To the finish lime are perfect)
  • Gold (Zoya’s Gal or OPI’s This gold sleighs me will look amazing)
  • Orange (Zoya’s Cam or Essie’s Meet me at sunset are stunning)

Tan, peach, amber, chartesruse, olive, peach, and copper will also work for you.

Neutral medium skin

You can wear almost any of the colors listed above that suit either medium cool or medium warm skin tones.

Check out all of the colors above and experiment until you find something that works for you.

Mauve, blush, champagne, mint green, chocolate brown, cream, light peach and soft rose work well for neutral medium skin tones.

Olive skin

If you have olive skin, get nail colors that are warm-based.

Here are some examples of the kinds of colors you should get and specific polish shade recommendations for your skin type:

  • Apricot (give Essie’s Pinkies out or OPI’s Endurance race to the finish a go)
  • Sandy Beige (Zoya’s Cho, Essie’s Sand tropez, or OPI’s Samoan sand are great)
  • Fuchsia (try OPI’s Merry in cranberry, or Zoya’s Rosa)
  • Dark teal (Experiment with Zoya’s Cecilia and OPI’s Teal me more)
  • Salmon (OPI’s I’ll have a gin and tectonic or Essie’s at the helm)
  • Burnt Orange (OPI’s Have your panettone and eat it or Essie’s Yes I Canyon)

Cool dark skin

Hello, my dark cool beauties.

Bright jewel tones will look amazing on you!

Here are some examples of the kinds of colors you should get and specific polish shade recommendations for the cool dark skin type:

  • Stark white (try OPI’s Alpine Snow or Zoya’s Purity).
  • Royal blue (Zoya’s Jen or OPI’s Mi casa es blue casa will work well)
  • Turquiose (give OPI’s Eternally turquoise or Zoya’s Talia a whirl)
  • Carnation red (Essie’s Lacquered up or Zoya’s Sonja will look stunning)
  • Violet (Zoya’s Vesper or Essie’s Big spender)
  • Fuchsia (Zoya’s Nana and Essie’s Head over wheels are great examples)

You can also wear Indigo, Emerald green, and violet shades.

Warm dark skin

You can enhance your complexion by choosing earthy, rich colors with warm and dark skin.

Here are some examples of the kinds of colors you should get and specific polish shade recommendations for the warm dark skin type:

  • Forest green (Zoya’s Mel and Essie’s Sweater weather are worth trying out)
  • Mustard (Try Essie’s Fall for NYC or OPI’s Sun sea and sand in my pants)
  • Yellow (Bee by Zoya and OPI’s Don’t tell a sol are both great choices)
  • Cranberry (Zoya’s Gia or Essie’s Forever yummy will work)
  • Bronze ( Zoya’s Cinnamon or Essie’s Sunday style will look stunning)
  • Olive green (OPI’s Olive for green and Zoya’s Arbour are great)

You can also wear gold, brown, cream, and copper nail polish.

Neutral dark skin

If you are dark and neutral you should be able to pull off any of the colors for both dark warm or dark cool.

So scroll back up and choose your favs.

Many of the medium skin colors could work well for you too!

What nail polish color suits you?

Ok, so you’ve narrowed it down to a bunch of nail colors that suit your skin type.

But how do you know what the best nail polish color is for you specifically?

Sure, the nail polish color that suits you the best is going to be one that matches your skin tone.

But there are also other things like your personality and your own personal style that factor in.

So let’s look at how what’s in your closet might affect the nail polish color you choose.

What nail color will match your outfit(s)?

Think about your favorite outfits.

What sort of style and color family do they fit into?

Do you like to wear a lot of neutral clothes to make it easier to mix and match?

In that case, a brighter color might work very well for you.

Or do you like to wear a lot of strong colors and bold prints?

If so, a neutral nail polish color like cream, beige or navy may be a better choice to avoid clashes.

You should also think about where you are going to wear this mani.

Does it need to be appropriate for work, partying or both?

What nail color suits your personality?

Another thing to think about when picking out a nail color is your personality.

Are you shy and reserved or outgoing and confident?

If you’re a little shy, then perhaps you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself.

In this case, a neutral color or something soft and light are going to make you look polished and pulled together while staying chic and elegant.

Although, a brighter color might also be a good way to step out of your comfort zone.

Your nails are one of the easiest places to experiment with color without feeling too out there.

On the other hand, if you’re more confident and outgoing, then you can definitely go for a brighter and more attention-grabbing color.

There are no rules when it comes to picking the best nail polish color for you.

Which nail colors work best with your personal style?

The last thing I want you to consider is your own personal style.

It’s no use choosing a polish color that suits you on paper but that doesn’t speak to you on a personal level.

You might love minimalism and chic looks for example.

If so, go for minimalist nails and keep the nail art simple and modern.

Or maybe you’re the opposite and you love strong colors, bold patterns, and gems!

If that’s the case, then rock some jewel-encrusted long talons in bright bold colors and funky nail art.

Basically, you do you and don’t be tempted to go for a color that you don’t love.

Which nail colors are trending right now?

What about trending nail colors?

This can be a huge factor in choosing a nail color for some people.

The best way to find out what nail colors are trending is to check out your fav influencers.

You can also check design websites.

Right now, the IT color is Periwinkle.

It’s a blueish purple shade that’s very calming.

It’s based on Pantone’s color of the year, which is called Veri Peri.

What’s the most flattering nail color?

The most flattering nail color is going to be the one that best suits your skin tone, personality, and personal style.

However, the most universally flattering nail color is pink.

From delicate blush and medium rose to hot neon pink, there’s a shade of pink nail polish to flatter everyone.

All skin tones can wear at least one shade of pink nail polish.

It’s no wonder that pink is the most popular nail color!

If you have older hands, the most flattering shade is red-orange.

Those with mature hands should steer clear of blues and blue-based colors as these can make your hands appear older.

What nail color should you get for a special occasion?

For special occasions, you can’t go wrong with a classic red nail.

It’s elegant, timeless, and flattering for everyone.

A french manicure is also a good choice, as are neutral colors, especially if you don’t know what you’re wearing yet!

If you do know what you’ll be wearing, then you can coordinate your nails with your outfit.

An easy trick is to wear polish in a deeper or lighter shade of the same color as your dress.

This will give you a monochrome look.

You could also try a complementary color for a more eyecatching look.

If you want something a little different, try a deep burgundy or aubergine.

Emerald green, cobalt blue, seasonal colors (red and gold at Christmas), and metallics also work for special occasions.

You could also add some sparkle or beautiful nail art to complete the look.

Nail colors that work for every day.

There are a few colors that work well for every day.

Nude and neutral colors are always a good choice, as they go with everything and are very chic.

Neutrals like navy, white, ivory, cream, tan, and gray are perfect for everyday wear.

Other good everyday colors include light pink, light blue, lavender, and peach.

These colors are all soft and flattering, and they won’t clash with your clothes or makeup.

You can also mix and match different colors to create your own unique look.

Meanings of specific nail polish colors.

Did you know that light blue nails mean you have a boyfriend?

And white nails mean that you’re single?

Thanks to TikTok, there’s a whole bunch of boyfriends asking their partners to paint their nails light blue!

It’s a good idea to be aware of these trending colors that are attached to certain meanings.

That way, you can avoid potentially embarrassing situations!

Seasonal nail colors

One last thing we need to talk about.

Seasonal nail colors.

Some colors can be absolutely included or take a back seat depending on the season.

For example, spring nail polish (and fashion) collections usually have a lot of pastel colors in them.

While summer is a time to wear brights like hot pink, orange, and sky blue.

Fall nail colors tend to be more earthy, with plenty of browns, mustards, and rich greens.

In winter, bright whites and cool blues tend to dominate, along with seasonal colors like red and green and plenty of sparkle.

Choosing nail colors based on the season can help you to narrow it down.

Final thoughts

Choosing a nail polish color can be based on a variety of factors, including skin tone, personal style, trending colors, and the occasion.

While pink is always a safe choice for a flattering nail color, other shades like neutrals are very versatile.

Red-orange shades are the best choice for mature hands to make them look younger.

Nude and neutral colors are perfect for everyday wear, while seasonal colors can give you a fun pop of color that’s appropriate for the time of year.

No matter what nail color you choose, make sure it makes you feel confident and beautiful!


  • 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.