Unlike trying a new lipstick or swatching a sparkly eyeshadow, choosing a nail polish often feels like a commitment. We can barely fit regular manicures into our busy lives, so the longer you can work with a polish shade, the better. Fall nail trends come and go, but updated classic standby shades of berry, red, blue, green, neutral, and metallic are here to stay. To help take the guesswork out of these things, we’ve found the best in these color categories for your skin tone—look no further for your perfectly flattering fall nail look. They’ll be your signature shades in no time.
A warm jewel-toned plum like Nails Inc. NAILKALE in Holland Walk ($14, sephora.com) looks rich and gorgeous against fair and light skin. Revlon Nail Enamel in Seductive ($4.49, drugstore.com) is a deep, dark, inky berry shade, which looks especially glamorous on medium complexions, while the sophisticated shimmer in Lancôme Vernis In Love in 387 Amethyste Brune ($15, lancome-usa.com) gives nails a luxurious effect on deep skin tones.
A classic seductive red like Essie Nail Polish in Dress To Kilt ($8.50, essie.com) has the right amount of richness to balance out light skin tones in a way that’s sophisticated, not flashy, while the warm orange-leaning tone in Butter London Nail Lacquer in Pillar Box Red ($15, butterlondon.com) is incredibly flattering on medium complexions. Nails Inc. Polish in Victoria & Albert ($9.50, nailsinc.com) is a true, timeless red that dresses up dark skin in an instant.
Butter London Nail Lacquer in Royal Navy ($15, butterlondon.com) couldn’t be truer to its punny name—this true deep blue is, indeed, a stunning royal navy, which makes it a great way for the fair-skinned to get in on the blue polish trend without looking frostbitten. A slightly more primary blue, like Essie Nail Polish in Style Cartel ($8.50, essie.com), is just complex enough to add gorgeous dimension to medium skin. Most blues go well with dark complexions, but for something that’s a little bit different, Essie The Perfect Cover Up ($8.50, essie.com) is an interesting peacock-like color that looks completely different depending on the lighting.
Green can go weird fast on fairer complexions, but a deep forest green like Nails Inc. NAILKALE in Bruton Mews ($14, sephora.com) couldn’t be more flattering. Medium skin tones will love a rich, slightly shimmery finish like Butter London Nail Lacquer in British Racing Green ($15, butterlondon.com), a unique shade that manages to be both fun and sophisticated. A pale, muted jade like Essie Nail Polish in Fall In Line ($8.50, essie.com) provides the perfect enigmatic contrast for dark skin—it’s like an updated neutral that’s anything but boring.
The soft, pink-leaning beige of Flower Nail’d It Nail Lacquer in Make My Daylily ($4.98, walmart.com) makes it the perfect fleshy, natural nude for fair and light skin tones. On medium skin, a fresh taupe like Essie Nail Polish in Take It Outside ($8.50, essie.com) will complement your complexion without fading into the background. As we know full well, “nude” shades aren’t one size fits all, which is why we can’t get over perfectly suited chocolatey shades like Essie Nail Polish in Partner In Crime ($8.50, essie.com) for deep-toned skin.
A sleek, reflective chrome like Deborah Lippmann Nail Color in Take The A Train ($20, deborahlippmann.com) is more refined pewter than flashy silver, making it the perfect cool-weather metallic for lighter complexions. Lancôme Vernis In Love in 197 Tourmaline Noire ($15, lancome-usa.com) looks intimidatingly dark in the bottle, but on nails it’s a stunning multi-faceted metallic with a hue dependent on the light, much like its gemstone namesake, and its warm tones are beautiful against medium skin. Dark complexions are perfectly suited to all things gilded—our pick is Deborah Lippman Nail Color in Autumn In New York ($20, deborahlippmann.com) a true gold that looks just like the real thing.