Classic Nail Color Favorites
From top left: Essie, Sand Tropez | Essie, Romper Room | Deborah Lippmann, Don’t Stop Believin’ | Deborah Lippmann, It’s Raining Men | Essie, After School Boy Blazer | Deborah Lippmann, Stormy Weather | Essie, Hors D’oeuvres | International Nail Manufacturers, Out the Door Top Coat
While I love trying out new nail polish colors, I really do find myself going back to the same few colors, what I like to call my “personal classics”– what I find to be the best shades in each color “category”. Like you, I’ve probably tried 857 different brands, colors and formulas over the years, and when it comes to manicures, hands down, the ones featured above are my favorites!
1) Best Nude/Neutral Shade: Essie’s Sand Tropez:
Sand Tropez is great because it’s the perfect balance of creamy pastel-ish nude, with no yellow or dirty-looking undertones. Two coats gives an opaque, very creamy finish that pretty much goes with everything. This color is great as a base for glitter, sparkles or any cool ombre effects you may do on top if it. Flattering for all skin tones, Sand Tropez is the essential “minimalist look” polish. Also, it happens to look great with gold jewelry (a must for me!)
2) Best Pastel Pink: Essie’s Romper Room
I am very particular when it comes to pink nail polish– it has to be the perfect creamy, white-based pastel (Romper Room! ) or neon …anything in between reads too Barbie / 80’s. I love this color because it’s only a few shades over from white…again, no yellowish undertones and two coats gives an opaque, almost chalky (in a good way) whitish-pink look that really pops against your skin (even in the dead of winter when your skin hasn’t seen the sun in months). Essie’s Fiji is a great runner up to Romper Room, but it is definitely more PINK than white.
3) Best Orange-toned Red: Deborah Lippmann’s Don’t Stop Believin’
Besides it having the greatest name EVER (my wedding party walked into this Journey classic!), Deborah Lippmann’s orangey-red is probably my favorite nail color of all time, and my consistent go-to year round. It’s great in the summer with a tan, when it reads more tropical, bright orange, and also in the winter, as a much needed pop of color when your’e wearing more neutrals like black, grey and camel (on repeat). Deborah Lippmann’s polishes are a little more expensive, averaging $18 a bottle (I get mine from Nordstrom or Sephora)– but they last REALLY long and paint on so much easier than cheaper brands– I swear, in this case, your get what you pay for. Again, two coats for the perfect, opaque poppy-red!
4) Best Classic Red: Deborah Lippmann’s It’s Raining Men
If you’re looking for the best all around classic, timeless red, this is IT. It’s a blue-based red, which is flattering on all skin tones year round. To me, some red polishes can seem cheap or cheesy looking…but this color is nothing but rich and perfect! It’s like the little black dress of red polishes.
5) Best Dark Polish: Essie’s After School Boy Blazer
The word that comes to mind with After School Boy Blazer is “inky”…do you remember when you were a kid and your pen would leak ink on your desk and it would smudge and get all over everything and you’d find that deep, deep dark blue color on your clothes and papers for weeks after?? That’s this color. It paints on super easily (more than some other Essie shades) and comes out really dark even after only one coat (although two coats are pictured here). It’s kind of a violet-navy-blue…really different than most other dark shades out there. Try this if you’re a fan of OPI’s Lincoln Park or Siberian Nights– I find this to be better than both!
6) Best Grey: Deborah Lippmann’s Stormy Weather
Grey polish is my other favorite color for my nails– I’ve tried at least 50 shades of grey (lol…had to!) over the years, and keep coming back to this one, partly because of the quality of Lippmann’s polishes. Stormy Weather is from the Narciso Rodriguez collection, and definitely has the same feel as the designers minimalist, architectural sensibility. This color is deep and and edgy and has definite greenish undertones, rather than a blue-base like many other grey polishes do. A “dark slate” is a good way to describe it– two coats needed for a solid opaque finish.
7) Best Glitter/Sparkly Polish: Essie’s Hors D’oeuvres
Other than having the most annoying name to spell (they couldn’t have called it “appetizer”?!), this sparkly polish delivers the most solid coating of gold glitter with some sporadic larger silver sparkles. It paints the glitter/sparkles on pretty evenly, and after just two coats, your nail is pretty much covered (see above), whereas many other glitter polishes are sub-par and skimpy when it comes to glitter distribution (mostly clear polish, very few sparkles). Hors D’oeuvres is also great over other colors for an ombre effect– is use it alot on the bases or tips of a Sand Tropez or After School Boy Blazer mani.
8) Best Top Coat: INM’s Out the Door & Base Coat: Orly’s Bonder Rubberized Basecoat
Out the Door is without contest, the BEST topcoat EVER. It’s like magic in a bottle. I recently shared this find with a professional makeup artist at a destination wedding, and after witnessing its supernatural protective and quick drying powers, she made it a point to keep it in her arsenal. This is the preferred top coat of most quality/luxury manicurists and with good reason– unlike many other “quick dry top coats” that may dry quickly but chip easily, Out the Door has your manicure lasting for at least a week, easily– and it’s super shiny too! Drying time is legitimately 15 minutes, and you’re able to function normally (blow drying hair, fishing around in wallet, cooking dinner etc.)
Orly’s Rubberized Bonder is my favorite basecoat, because it paints on extremely thin, and doesn’t add a bulky layer to a manicure like some others do. It smooths out the nail, and really does protect it from the discoloration you can get from dark shades or the staining from red polishes. Both of these, along with most of the Essie colors featured here , can be found at most drugstores, ULTA, or beauty supply stores.
Who knew there could be this much to say about nail polishes?! I guess I’ve always had a thing about picking the “perfect” color though…even as a kid, I remember having clear Do’s and Don’ts about which crayons in the Crayola box were appropriate to use under certain circumstances.
Enjoy, and hopefully this gave you guys some ideas for your next mani!