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Hey, did you know that the most popular nail colors tend to be nudes? Shocking, right? While your nail polish rack full of reds, glitters, shimmers, and dark shades may not be an indicator of that, your run of the mill manicure probably features something in the your-skin-but-better color family. Not one to settle for any old boring manicure, we consulted with nail art extraordinaire, Miss Pop. She showed us several cool ways to wear nude nails this summer with these easy-to-do looks featuring not a shade past pale.
Neon looks so strikingly modern when striped against nude. If you’re into neon colors but are a bit apprehensive of them looking more disco than what you’re going for, an accent on nude is the way to go. The base of this look is Deborah Lippmann’s Naked and a neon stripe of the appropriately named ORLY Glowstick. If you are going to layer a neon on the top of a nude, go for a paler nude color—the neon will visually pop more.
Something architectural, nudes have a way of making graphic designs subtle enough to go with anything—including a strawberry crunch ice cream bar. This color is OPI’s Don’t Bossa Nova Me Around. When you’re doing a one-colored nude manicure, Miss Pop suggests finding a nude color that’s a bit pinker and brighter than your natural skin tone—don’t try to match your skin tone exactly, otherwise you get the mannequin-hands effect. A design like this takes a thin striping brush and a real steady hand.
Go with mixed textures! Metallics looks so cool layered on top of solid creme colors. Essie’s Topless & Barefoot lays down the base of this, while China Glaze’ Meet Me In The Mirage forms the triangular borders. The cool part about a monochrome, mixed-texture manicure is that even if the design is busy-looking, it remains subtle until a flash of light hits it. Not every statement has to be a shout. As long as you have an even, partially steady hand, this design is easy to recreate with a striping brush—all you have to worry about is one side of the triangle being straight and then fill in the rest to your nails’ edge.
Xs look great three quarters down the nail so the points reach each side’s edge. When you’re doing a stripe-heavy look, do yourself a favor and try to stripe downwards vertically (angle your hands if you have to). It’ll be a lot easier to make a straight line when working with the brush stroke. This look features Deborah Lippmann’s Naked underneath Girls Just Want To Have Fun.
Don’t forget about sheers! Sheer polishes can nearly pass for nude inclusion since they pretty much just put a filter over your natural nail. This here is Dior Nail Glow with Essie Good As Gold swooping along the nail tip to create a bit of an abstract French manicure. A glint of gold really offsets whatever it’s accenting, so something like this pinky tone will make it appear warmer. But if you choose to use a pale nude instead, the gold will look cooler (figuratively and possibly literally).
For nude nail enthusiasts who don’t want to bother with the brush, an easy and cool-looking method is to use a dotted polish (or glitter, if you prefer) like we did with Salon Perfect’s Spot On, on top of a nude. This nude is Deborah Lippman’s Baby Love. It’s just like applying a speckled top-coat over a nude base—so easy!
The ripple effect is great inspiration when you want to take a layered approach to a nude manicure. Using as many colors as you like, paint a semi-circle over the little pale moons on your nail and then a swipe over the tip of your nail, circling up along the edges. We’re using ORLY Pure Porcelain for the tip and Chanel Sweet Star as the sparkly moon accent.
What’s an understated manicure without a bit of accessorizing? Another easy way to create a simple and cool nude manicure is to add studs. With two coats of OPI My Vampire Is Buff, little metal studs were placed on top with clear top-coat polish (and tweezers). You can find any sort of nail adornments at a beauty store like Sally Beauty or Ulta, but nowadays, more and more nail brands are making nail art material that can be found at any drugstore.