The Best Nude Nail Polishes for Every Skin Tone

These neutral tones are perfect for summer.

a hand wearing nude nail polish holding a bag
(Image credit: Getty Images)

I've painted my nails for over a decade. When I started, I gravitated towards deep black, red, and purple nail polish shades , but more recently, I've become attracted to the best nude nail polishes, similar to the shade Bella Hadid wore to the Cannes Film Festival. Nudes—like pale pinks and tans—never clash with my outfits or makeup. Plus, when they chip, it's barely noticeable. "Colors that qualify as 'nude' nail polishes are any tone, shade, or hue resembling various skin tones," explains celebrity nail artist Julie Kandalec. "Nude hues range from sheer to opaque, catering to individual preferences for a natural or polished look."

Nude nail polishes are also great for those looking for an understated look. It's partly why the royal family, including Princess Kate and Meghan Markle, have never been photographed in a non-nude shade. During the Queen Elizabeth era, royal protocol stipulated they had to avoid bright shades. The reason being: "They have a classic vibe that never goes out of style," says nail artist and content creator Hannah Lee.

Kate Middleton's hand with nude pink nail polish

Kate Middleton keeps it simple in a nude French manicure in 2023.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Thankfully, there's a plethora of nude shades, with options for every skin tone. With that in mind, we've gathered some of the best nude nail polishes for every price point and advice from Lee and Kandalec on finding the best nude for you.

The Best Nude Nail Polishes

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Gabrielle Ulubay's hand with light brown nail polish on

The fortifying formula in this polish alleviates my concerns about dry, peeling nails.

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Gabrielle Ulubay's hand with pink nail polish on

Olive & June's nail polishes have a high-shine, gel-like finish, even when worn on their own. Above, the glossy polish shines sans top coat.

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Gabrielle Ulubay's hand with brown nail polish on

This shade of deep brown is one of my go-to's all year round, but it's especially gorgeous during the autumn months.

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Gabrielle Ulubay's hand with yellow-beige nail polish on

Blank Canvas' yellow undertone makes my medium-neutral skin tone shine, regardless of the time of year or how tan I am.

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The Best Nude Nail Polish for Your Skin Tone

Unlike face makeup, nude nail polish doesn't need to match your skin tone exactly—it just needs to be flattering. Kandalec says that while nude polishes can look great when they're a precise match to your skin, nude shades are more about personal preference. "[Think about] what makes you feel comfortable and confident while wearing them, regardless of whether they match your skin tone exactly," she says.

That said, Lee tends to recommend certain nudes for specific skin tones—even though no shade is entirely off the table for any consumer. "For those with lighter skin tones with blue or green undertones, I recommend shades that are peachy or warm pinks," she says. "Softer pinks would work great for those with more purple or blue undertones."

Issa Rae's hand with nude pink nail polish

Issa Rae wears a stunning shade of pale pink at the 2024 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

She says deeper skin tones with cool undertones might want to consider beige shades that lean a bit pink. "If you have warmer undertones and deeper skin, then creamy beige colors are the way to go. Dark skin tones look great in richer, more vibrant nudes that lean more on the pink and orange side," adds Lee.

Note that these are just guidelines; if you see a nude color that you love, go for it.

How to Pick the Best Nude Nail Polish for the Season

Lighter colors, including nudes, generally become more popular when the weather gets warmer. Nude nails are the most popular during transitional weather, with fall shades being deeper and more brown, while spring shades include more whites and pinks.

"For spring, I love a lighter sheer nude since it feels so fresh and chic, and during summer, I lean towards a tan opaque nude since it reminds me of sandy beaches," she says. For fall, I love a rusty nude with a little bit of orange undertones. Finally, for winter, I recommend a rich, darker nude, which always seems to fit the moodier vibes during the chilly months."

Meet the Experts

Hannah Lee holding up nail polish bottles
Hannah Lee

Hannah Lee is a professional manicurist and content creator with a successful following on Instagram and YouTube, where she tests nail products and provides detailed tutorials. She is currently based in Atlanta.

Julie Kandalec
Jennifer Kandalec

Jennifer Kandalec is a celebrity nail artist who has worked with the likes of Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Kerry Washington and more. She is currently based in New York City.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at