Let’s face it, we all know its hard to find new colours that look flattering on your nails and skin- especially with medium to darker skin tones like ours, and even super fair skinned women have got to be selective about what colours they choose. What looks good on your best friend may look totally different on you, or you may realise you like it in certain light and you think your hands look like a tacky middle-aged housewife in other light (it happens to me all the time!). And don’t even mention the confusion of trying to pick a nice shade just by looking at the bottle among hundreds of other colours at shops and salons! I tend to go back to my 4-5 favourites on loop depending on my mood, but trying new colours and finding one that I love is considered a small personal victory in my eyes (and I celebrate with cookies).
Basically it comes down a few basic groups of colours: red, pink, orange, neutrals & nudes, pastels, and dark, and you should ideally have at least one in each family that you love on yourself. Within these are textural sub-categories; solid, metallic, glossy, matte, and sheer. In my experiments over the years I’ve found that generally solid & glossy look best on, as opposed to metallic (we all know how gold and glitter is an everlasting trend in our country, so you can imagine how many times I cringe while noticing peoples hands). If you’re going metallic it should be subtle and muted- for example black or navy blue metallic is a great option for a punk rock feel, but super bright and shiny gold and silver or metallic neon colours are a no no (I don’t care if it’s your cousins wedding and it matches your outfit). I’ve put shades from O.P.I first because I’ve found that they’re easily available at most salons & shops but also included some kick ass colors from other brands. Nothing feels as good as a fresh mani & pedi, so what’s your next colour?
The ever classic, always glam red is a favourite with almost every woman on the planet, and with good reason. Red was one of the first nail colours to become popular in mainstream media and among celebrities. It instantly evokes a vintage glamazon vibe a la Marilyn Monroe, Dita Von Teese, or my personal favourite, Jessica Rabbit. When picking a red for yourself keep a few things in mind, it should be a solid red with no metallic sheen, it should be glossy vs. matte, it should be a nice cherry red, brick red, or orangey red as those look best with Indian undertones, and lastly make sure its a high quality brand to get the kind of salon finish we all want (red can look horrible even if its a nice shade but the quality is cheap, you won’t get the kind of smooth finish, opacity and lasting power that you’re looking for). Your nails can be long or short, square or rounded, but make sure they are well-groomed and evenly filed, otherwise you will defeat the whole purpose of this classic shade. You can also go into the wine or oxblood zone, more in the maroon family, and in this case you want to go pretty dark and intense. Shimmery maroon shades don’t look the greatest on, even though they look ok in the bottle (tried and failed many times), so go for a creamy deep wine, or almost purple/black sort of red. In the winter months especially you can do dark and devilish tones for subtle glamour. Some of my favourite reds are as follows-Chick Flick Cherry, Coca-Cola Red, Lost On Lombard, and Big Apple Red all by O.P.I, Tomato Tango by Lakme Absolute Gel Stylist, Cinema by Chanel, Cherry Red by Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear, Burgundy Kiss by Maybelline.
Another favourite among women of all ages, pink can look beautiful & feminine when done right. It doesn’t really matter if you go light or dark, as long as its a nicely pigmented colour and usually without glitter particles. Hot pink, fuchsia, magenta, and fluorescent pink all look really great on medium to darker tone skin, it offsets a tan beautifully and instantly gives off a vacation in the Bahamas sort of vibe. When going with brighter shades of pink, avoid metallics- they just look cheap and unflattering in almost every light, no matter what your skin tone is. Instead go for a nice solid pink on long or short square nails to get the most bang for your buck. When going with a baby pink, you can definitely do metallic or glittery shades but for a more classic look stay in the solid, creamy zone. A pale pink glitter is a beautiful choice for weddings or when you want to feel soft and girly. For Indian skin, a ballerina pink with hints of beige, or a pale dusty rose sort of colour is far more flattering than a straight up cotton candy colour, since it reflects the brown tones in our skin. If you’re very fair then you can use something very pinky as your skin tone will tend to have pinkish undertones anyway. Some of my favourite pinks are: Kiss Me On My Tulips, My Address Is Hollywood, Passion, My Very First Knockwurst, My Chihuahua Bites all by O.P.I, Posh Pink by Rimmel London, Punchy Pink and Brides No Grooms by Essie, Shocking Pink by China Glaze, Lady by Dior.
I absolutely love bright orange, coral, sunshine and peach shades! They are my go to when I’m going a holiday, and puts me in the right happy go lucky mood for almost any other fun occasion, plus orange hues generally look great on all skin tones from fair to olive to ebony. This is another colour that looks best when solid and not sparkly, but if you want to feel extra festive you can totally go all out and do monotone glitter alongside a nice, pop orange colour. Try glitter on one or two nails only or just on the tips/base for a subtler effect. For daily wear, a bright, solid orange looks the best. This another shade, along with pink, where you can go as fluorescent as you want, keeping in mind that your nails are evenly shaped and groomed. In fact a bright AF orange is THE colour to compliment tanned skin, and looks especially great on the feet when you’re wearing strappy, open toed shoes. You can even try a nice sunny yellow on short nails if you have light skin, but avoid it if you are wheatish (stay away from mustard). The coral and peach families are super lovely, since they have hints of pink, and look nicest for spring & summer. Try- Toucan Do It If You Try, Cant Fjord Not To, In My Back Pocket, Where Did Suzie’s Man-go, Hot And Spicy, all by O.P.I, Orange, It’s Obvious, Saturday Disco Fever by Essie, Orange Knockout by China Glaze, Electric Orange by Lakme Absolute Gel Stylist.
Neutrals & Nudes
This group of colours are my spirit animals; so soothing, so pretty, matches whatever you wear, subtle, elegant, polished (ha ha), basically I could go on and on. These are the colours I come back to time and time again when I don’t know what else to apply, or when I’m feeling neutral and classic/want to match whatever my mood decides it’s going to wear. Your nails are guaranteed to look well taken care of, and even if this colour chips, it doesn’t show too easily, so it’s a great low maintenance options. You can go in the beige zone, slightly pinkish beige, or cream/white zone. I wouldn’t recommend stark white as it tends to get dirty and stained very easily with food, makeup etc. even though it looks quite pretty on. If you have someone doing everything for you and don’t have to lift a finger then a pristine white mani can work for longer than a day. I’ve found that on my skin, a creamy beige with cool undertones looks the nicest, or a beige with subtle hints of pale pink. I also really like going far whiter in an off-white, eggshell hue, but they are higher maintenance and won’t last you as long. In colours this soft, you can go for a sparkly polish or add a brighter accent colour for an interesting twist; pale taupe with a layer of dull gold glitter is nice for an occasion where you need to dress up a bit. A classic french manicure on a medium length nail will never fail you, just make sure the sheer pink they use as the base is not too pink but has slight beige tones in it. It should be similar to your natural nail colour, otherwise it looks tacky. Some gorgeous nudes- You’re So Vain-illa, Do You Take Lei Away, My Vampire Is Buff, So Many Clowns So Little Time, Funny Bunny all by O.P.I, Limo Scene by Essie, Wet Clay by Sally Hansen, Secret by Chanel
What’s prettier than pastel nails for spring? Pretty much nothing. I love the versatility of pastels because you can literally take any colour from blue, green, and yellow to purple and grey, turn them into pastels and voila! Instantly wearable colour for all the ladies who aren’t into brighter offbeat hues. Pastels look pretty whether solid, glossy, matte or even sparkly/metallic and look amazing when a few pastels are teamed together for nail art or a fun multicolour mani. My all time fave pastels are mint green, powder blue, dove grey, and lilac. For pastels you’ll generally need about 3 coats to get the kind of opacity you want, and they look best on short to medium nails. I’m not a fan of pastel orange as it tends to look like my grandma’s curtains/cassata/tutti fruity ice cream, nor do I love pale yellow as it can look like it was white but turned yellow because of the Indian food you ate. Not a good look. Check out some of these colours for your next mani/pedi- You’re Such A BudaPest, Cement The Deal, Care To Danse, Gelato On My Mind, That’s Hula-rious, Sweet Memories all by O.P.I, Go Ginza, Borrowed And Blue, Lilacism by Essie, Mischievous Mint, In The Limelight by MAC
For days when you want the galaxy to reflect on your nails, or for days when you feel like badass MF. There is a whole wide world of dark and intense nail colours, and they are some of my favourite metallics around. From grey, black, navy and emerald green, to dark purple and burgundy, there’s something for every mood. Metallic and glitter in dark, pigmented colours look truly spectacular, and black with black glitter or a deep purple/navy are perfect for your inner punk rocker, while metallic blues and greens speak to the mermaid hiding in your soul. Dark colours look best on short, square nails with slightly round edges, and after you’re done getting them done or painting them yourself, go over the sides with an earbud dipped in nail polish remover to get rid of any excess, and give it that nice, clean edge. Colours like this definitely have a glam appeal to them, and are absolutely glorious for winter (or ocean inspired nails for when you’re by the sea). Some to try- Black Onyx, Pewter, Peace Love And OPI, Light My Sapphire, Lapis, Cosmo With A Twist, Lincoln Park After Da, St. Marks The Spot, This Color Is Making Waves by O.P.I, Purple Rain by Nars, Biker Blue, Deep Sea, Baby Goth Girl, Nightfall, Formidable by MAC, Peridot by Chanel, Rouge Noir, Midnight In Paris by Maybelline, Smoke And Ashes by China Glaze,
I hope you had fun reading my guide to your best looking nails, let me know what you thought and if there are any colours you absolutely can’t live without! I’d love to try them myself and add them to this list. Happy browsing, dear readers 🙂
Jasleen Gill is a fashion & celebrity stylist, model, and blogger currently residing in Mumbai, India.READ MORE
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