It’s easy to get stuck in a color rut when it comes to our nail polish (especially when most of us are doing are own nails these days). Typically, we stay within the same color family simply because we already know we love it. Why fix what’s not broken? That said, pretty much every nail color plays especially beautifully with dark skin tones, and according to top manicurists, there really isn’t any one shade that doesn’t look bold and amazing.
Technically (aka, according to Mazz Hanna, celebrity manicurist and founder of her eponymous crystal-infused skincare line) the only real guideline when it comes to the best—or worst—nail colors for dark skin tones is steering clear of shades that are too close to your skin’s actual color. The effect, she says, can read “mannequin-y,” and you’re better off opting for neutrals two shades lighter or two shades darker than your natural coloring. (For our expert-guide to nail neutral nails, see here.)
Of course, feel free to do what you damn well please (we love breaking beauty “rules” after all), but just ahead we’re sharing nine nail colors that look especially stunning paired with darker skin tones. Prepare to feast your eyes, and keep scrolling.
For dark skin tones especially, a shining streak of white is an especially poignant polish pairing thanks to the gorgeous contrast. You can go opaque with a crisp snowy shade, or layer a sheer and shimmery formula on top depending on your vibe. How pretty is the below bottle from Chantecaille? A vibrant pop of turquoise is actually one of the most universally flattering nail colors on any skin tone, but it’s especially mesmerizing for those with deeper skin. We’re fawning over both of these hues—one more tame, one more glitzy. As far as blues go, the punchier and brighter the better, according to London-based celebrity manicurist Sabrina Gayle. Darker skin tones can’t go wrong with any shade of red nail color, but as Gayle explains, red-orange hues will offer an especially stunning punch. A flash of hot pink on our nails never gets old, and honestly, the color makes us happy. Plus, Gayle recommends it as a must-have polish color for darker skin. A flat neon looks amazing, but if you dare, we’re also obsessed with a dose of holographic sparkle—alone or on top. Another rec from Gayle? Fuschia. A gorgeous fusion between pink and purple, it’s the best compromise the next time you can’t make up your mind. Fun fact, it gets its name from the fuchsia plant—a 16th-century discovery from German botanist Leonhart Fuchs. In lieu of light orange shades with white or pastel undertones, our experts say the brighter and the more neon-leaning the better when it comes to the best nail colors for dark skin tones. Variations of tangerine are a toned-down version of the above orange-y red shades but still super-flattering. Crayola yellow isn’t for the faint of heart in terms of statement nail colors, and honestly, it’s not a hue every skin tone can easily pull off. However, a saturated Crayola hue is sublime with dark skin tones—and thanks to the fact it’s been a very on-trend color as of late, your shopping options are endless in terms of finish. To find your best shade, heed Hanna’s advice by opting for a neutral nail color two shades lighter or two shades darker. She recommends the below called Kateri, and celebrity manicurist Betina Goldstein loves the above from Chanel for dark skin tones, in particular. (See what we did there?) Like yellow, a neon green nail color is one of those tricky hues that just so happens to look extra amazing contrasted with dark skin. Bright green is a favorite of Gayle’s, and we’re keen on both of these bold options. Up next: 9 Nail Trends That Are Officially Blacklisted and 9 That Aren’t. This article was published at an earlier date and has been updated.