Wild guess: You have about 13 nail polishes sitting in a basket under your sink right now, 12 of which are old, separated, and “kind of ugly,” and the 13th 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'. To help you out, we narrowed down the list to the prettiest colors you’re going to be seeing everywhere this season. 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.
Pear Nova Nail Polish in My Candy Rain, $12
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.
Deborah Lippmann Leave the Light On Gel Lab Pro Nail Color in Radiate, $17
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.
Smith & Cult Nail Polish in Fade the Sun, $18
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.
Mischo Beauty Diana Creme Nail Polish in Pumpkin, $18
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’re into clean formulas, you’ll appreciate this vegan, cruelty-free collection. Kitiya King, founder of Mischo Beauty, saw a need for richly-hued, long lasting, chemical free nail polish—so, she dreamed up this shade and nine others to complete the collection.
Revlon Color Stay Gel Envy Lingerie Nail Polish in Curves For Days, $8
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
Emilie Heathe Nail Polish in Public, $29
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.
Essie Spring 2019 Nail Polish Collection in Pinkies Out, $9
Pastel shades aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Instead of sticking to the same coral you've been wearing since middle school, 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 pop against all skin tones.
Chantecaille Celestial Nail Sheer Topcoat in Vega, $28
You're getting a first look 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 with this intergalactic hue.
Butter London Glazen Nail Lacquer in Blaze, $10
Mix a few drops of shimmery peach into a hard-to-wear orange, and you instantly get this soft salmon shade 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 out like a kindergarten craft project.
Essie Nail Polish in Anchor Down, $9
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.
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish in B Girl, $7
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.
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.
I challenge you not to fall in love with this vibrantly bright fuchsia, which dries down to a glassy sheen of a Jolly Rancher. Its blue undertones keep it looking chic and clean, rather than ‘80s-level gaudy.
Lauren B. Beauty Polish in Coachella Valley Sun, $18
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.
Nails Inc. Foiling In Love Nail Polish in Space Bah, $15
I mean, I’m obviously going to include a rose-gold option, because, hello, have you met 2018? This rosy-beige polish has an icy, metallic finish that’s bright enough to side-step that dreaded washed-out effect you risk with most shimmery-rose shades.
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