5 Ways Your Nail Polish Color Totally Changes How Your Hands Look

A guide for every skin tone.

Design by Katja Cho

If you’ve ever taken a picture of your hands, like after a manicure, or maybe while holding a big ol’ doughnut at brunch (hey, what do you take pictures of?), then you know how, uh, kinda ugly hands can be in the wrong lighting, or with the wrong polish, or with a bad doughnut. Just kidding—THERE ARE NO BAD DOUGHNUTS.

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Which is why we’re really into the idea of nail-polish contouring, which is basically just picking specific colors for your skin tone to give your hands a bit more oomph. No, we’re not saying that this is a required step for any human being, because we realize that hands are just hands, but if you’re planning to wear nail polish anyways, why not make it purposeful?

And to help you decode your digits, we got the very brilliant manicurist Jin Soon Choi to break down the best colors from her polish collection for your exact skin tone and dream hand look. Because that’s a thing, right? Right.

Design by Katja Cho

"Choose colors that are not too immature or too neon-like," says Choi. "They should be more elegant and have sharp color pigmentation to make your skin look vivid."

Fair Skin: Try a soft, blush-y pink, like Dolly Pink BUY IT

Medium Skin: Look for a bright coral orange, like Enflammee BUY IT

Olive Skin: Pick a rich, hot-as-hell orange, like Pop Orange BUY IT

Dark Skin: Try a bright mint blue, like Poppy Blue BUY IT

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Design by Katja Cho

"Try to use colors that make your hands look a bit more bronzed, like orange, yellow, green, or opaque pastel colors," she says.

Fair Skin: Pick a deep, ocean-y green, like Tila BUY IT

Medium Skin: Go for a coral-y pink, like Coral Peony BUY IT

Olive Skin: Try another bright, rich orange, like Pop Orange BUY IT

Dark Skin: Look for a creamy lemon yellow, like Charme BUY IT

Design by Katja Cho
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"Opaque whites and pastel shades give your nail beds a bigger appearance in contrast to your skin," says Choi.

Fair Skin: Go for a retro, blush-y pink, like Dolly Pink BUY IT

Medium Skin: Look for an off-white shade with just a hint of blue, like Kookie White BUY IT

Olive Skin: Try an opaque beige, like Prim BUY IT

Dark Skin: Look for a super-powder-y pink, like Doux BUY IT

Design by Katja Cho

"Darker shades tend to make nail beds look smaller, so make sure that you choose deep colors that naturally complement your skin tone, especially in the winter," she says.

Fair Skin: Pick a deep, electric blue, like Blue Iris BUY IT

Medium Skin: Try a dark blue-gray, like Rhapsody BUY IT

Olive Skin: Go for a red-hued black, like Risqué BUY IT

Dark Skin: Pick a rich, ocean-y green, like Tila. BUY IT

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"Use more natural, subtle colors that don't draw attention to your nails, so your nails can become an extension of your fingers," explains Choi.

Design by Katja Cho

Fair Skin: Look for a super-sheer pink, like Muse BUY IT

Medium Skin: Go for a subtle, sheer tan, like Tulle BUY IT

Olive Skin: Try a pink-tinged beige, like Nostalgia BUY IT

Dark Skin: Pick a milky toffee shade, like Dulcet BUY IT


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