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The 21 Best Summer Nail Colors for 2021

Upgrade your manicure game with these fire shades.

best summer nail colors

We're going to take a wild guess: You have about 14 nail polishes sitting in a basket under your sink right now, 13 of which are old, separated, and "kind of ugly," and the 14th of which is the same color you've worn every week for the past year. Are we close, or are we close? As lovely as your default-slash-signature hue must be, it's about to officially be the season of summer manicures (and pedicures), and there are simply too many gorgeous shades on the market for you to stick to the same ol' same ol'. It's not that we don't love a good classic shade that stays forever on our nail beds, but in the wise words of Drake, "YOLO." Therefore, as it starts to warm up outside, so should your nail colors of choice to suit the season.

Whether you're doing an at-home pedicure or manicure job, or your local salon opened back up (we're a little bit jealous), we've got the right shade for you. In order to help you have the hot girl summer of your dreams, we've narrowed down the list to the 21 prettiest colors you're going to be seeing everywhere this season. Scroll on for a selection of the coolest trending yellows, salmons, reds, blues, and more. Pick your favorites, and then, for the love of beauty, throw away that pale-pink shade you got for your sister's wedding a decade ago.

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Deep Turquoise
Base Coat in Pisces

Put the love you have for your astrology sign front and center with this tasteful teal. Base Coat's line of vegan polishes all last between seven to 10 days, and its formula is free of toxic ingredients.

Sunset Yellow
Color Club in Disco's Not Dead
$6.82 (12% off)

This nail polish is a classic case of "don't judge a book by its cover." On the outside, it resembles a sweet peach tint, but when applied in as little as two coats, it turns into a glossy pastel yellow—otherwise known as the perfect summer sunset, but for your nails.

Pinkish Blues
Sally Hansen Mega Strength in Slay All Day

Year-round nail polish wearers know that pinks aren't just for spring. Like this hue, for example. At first glance, it's plainly a hot pink, but just wait...when applied, there's a slight blue shimmer! How that's for a magic trick? Get ready for the compliments to roll in with the brand's most durable nail polish formula ever.

Earthy Brown
Essie Expressie in Mid-Day Mocha

Neutrals are never a bad idea. When you find yourself in a chill mood, consider trying this subtle brown. Essie's new Expressie line dries in about a minute flat but still packs all the quality their polishes are praised for. 

Dreamy Periwinkle
Smith & Cult in Exit the Void

My summer philosophy: sun calls for color. So, unsurprisingly, this pastel blue with purple undertones is at the top of my list. Not only does this shade go great with all my summer jewelryits chip-resistant formula isn't too shabby either.

Rich Fuchsia
Nails Inc. Bright Ambition Nail Polish in 12 p.m. Somewhere

I challenge you not to fall in love with this vibrant bright fuchsia, which dries down to a glassy sheen, the shade of your favorite fruity hard candy. Its blue undertones keep it looking chic and clean, rather than ‘80s-level gaudy. Prepare to be flooded with compliments!

Metallic Rose
10 Free Chemistry Clean Nail Color in Platinum Rose Quartz

I mean, I’m obviously going to include a rose-gold option, because, hello, have you seen this hue? This rosy-beige polish has an icy, metallic finish that’s sleek enough to side-step that dreaded washed-out effect you risk with most shimmery-rose shades.

Cool Blue
Orly Breathable Treatment in Morning Mantra

If you find your summer plans looking like lots of time at the office, consider this light blue color to remind you that weekends do exist. Good news: you won't need to apply a basecoat or topcoat for this 2-in-1 formula. Now that sounds almost better than a strawberry daiquiri poolside.

Pearly Coral
Essie Gorge-ous Geodes Nail Polish Collection in Gorge-ous Geodes

Those pastel shades you love aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Instead of sticking to the same coral you've been wearing since the seventh grade, switch things up with this chic shimmery hue. It's a sherbet shade with hints of orange and pink that leaves behind a mildly metallic finish. So you can bet it will shine against all skin tones.

Bright White
Cirque Colors Crème Nail Polish in Carpe Diem

The quickest way to play up a summer bronze (that I’m going to assume is the result of a spray tan or gradual tanner)? Wear white. And the same goes for your nails—this pure-white polish requires just two coats to get a bright, opaque finish that makes even the palest of skin tones glow.

Fiery Red
Dior Nail Lacquer in Massaï

There’s nothing a fire red shade can’t do to boost your confidence. This high-shine hue is literally hot (sorry, had to), and will instantly dress up your nails. Plus if you consider yourself a trendsetter then you'll want your hands on the first couture gel-effect nail polish. Just two coats of this bad boy and you'll be set for a chip-free manicure for 10 days.

Subtle Metallic Shade
Deborah Lippmann Leave the Light On Gel Lab Pro Nail Color in Radiate

Summer calls for metallic. Because, why not? This soft metallic will give you glowing nails ready for a good time. It’s rooftop season, which means it’s completely fine to be basic and hold up your glass of rosé in the sky to show off your nails. If you have sensitive nail beds, try this gentle formula that has the same cushion and gloss effect of a gel without weakening your real nails.

Shimmer-Flecked Salmon
OPI Mexico City Infinite Shine Collection in Mural Mural on the Wall

Let your nails be a fine piece of art with this vibrant salmon with yellow sparkles that looks shockingly pretty on all skin tones. And don’t worry—the flecks of glimmer in this polish are so finely milled, you won’t have to worry about your fingers turning into a kindergarten craft project.

Dusty Denim
Essie Nail Polish in Toned Down
$7.50 (17% off)

A dusty blue may not seem like an obvious choice for summer, but then again, who wants to be obvious? This opaque shade is understated and cool (both temperature-wise and collar-poppin’-wise) and is spiked with enough shine that it’s still reflective, yet not too loud.

Golden Green Pearl
Chantecaille Celestial Nail Sheer Topcoat in Vega

You're looking at one of Chantecaille's first-ever nail polishes. The cool thing about this buildable lacquer is although it's marketed as a "top coat," its pearlescent green specks can be worn as a standalone shade. Or, you could also jazz up a simple shade with this decadent top coat. The choice is yours, and you really can't go wrong either way.

Creamy Turquoise
Pear Nova Nail Polish in My Candy Rain

Brighten up your summer blues with this creamy turquoise. Blues are underrated shades, but they really do deserve some shine. This underdog has a super-vivid formula that packs a punch of pigment. It won’t take much to coat your nails in an opaque wash of color.

Sunset Orange
Smith & Cult Nail Polish in Fade the Sun

This shimmery tangerine shade will bring so much warmth to your nails. Are you a “let’s just stay and watch the sunset” type of person? If so, you won’t need to chase sunsets anymore because this vacay-ready hue brings it straight to your hands. Everyone will spot this shine from a mile away, so get ready for the compliments.

Classic Neutral
Revlon Color Stay Gel Envy Lingerie Nail Polish in Un-Peach Me

How do you not want a neutral nail polish inspired by Ashley Graham’s lingerie line? Um, if this shade, which was curated by the supermodel herself, will give me a dose of Graham’s sultriness, I’ll take 10, please. This stunning neutral shade will work on an array of skin tones. And its formula is made with a built-in base coat so you can skip that step when you’re pressed for time.

Burnt Orange Shimmer
Emilie Heathe Nail Polish in Public

A rusty orange brings the heat. This is not your typical orange, though—it's a cool orange made unique with brown and burgundy undertones. The creator of these polishes, Emilie Heathe, pays extra attention to the ingredients in each formula to ensure healthy nails. Plus, you don't even need a top coat—it's long-lasting on its own.

Minty Seafoam
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish in B Girl
$5.87 (41% off)

Things I don’t have the patience for this summer: Boob sweat, humidity, and ragged nail polish. Enter Sally Hansen’s at-home gel polish that uses sunlight, rather than a UV light, to harden into a super-strong finish that lasts up to two weeks. Yes, seriously. This minty, sea-foam green shade manages to flatter all skin tones (especially porcelain-level pale) without looking sickly.

Mustard Yellow
Lauren B. Beauty Polish in Coachella Valley Sun

I know what you’re thinking: a mustard-yellow nail polish? But trust me: This rich, creamy hue looks insanely gorgeous against dark and deep skin tones, thanks to its warm, flattering undertones.


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