(The Nail File)

How To Choose A Light Nail Color For Your Best Stealth Wealth Mani Yet

The pros weigh in.

Originally Published: 
light nail color ideas
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

There are some signature beauty looks people swear by. A ruby red lip, for example, will always be a chic choice. Full, fluffy brows are another staple that commands attention. But when it comes to manicures, it’s clear that fair shades reign supreme. Regardless of your preferences, be it artsy designs or a solid set, the allure of a subtle polish remains the same. However, if you still need convincing, just survey the variety of light nail color ideas floating around Instagram. With a quick scroll, you’ll find that the platform is teeming with interesting looks to suit everyone.

Social media may be the best place for manicure inspiration, but finding the right polish shade for your look requires some expert insight. “Selecting a favorable light nail color is all about undertones,” says Sarah Chue, celebrity nail artist. The pro explains that these hues can easily drown you out if chosen incorrectly. Understanding your skin’s undertones will help you find an option that best suits your complexion. For this reason, TZR turned to the best in the business for a full rundown on the classic light polishes.

Whether you’re searching for a new signature shade or one that will give your go-to design a fresh feel, the following tips are bound to help you out.

How To Wear Light Nail Colors

Deciding on a light nail color is easier said than done. While there are certainly plenty of options available, every bottle isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal. Along with knowing your skin’s undertones, Chue mentions that taking stock of the characteristics of the polish is just as important. “Certain tones may not be as complementing to all complexions,” she says. That said, Chue recommends selecting a harmonizing shade instead of the most popular on the market. “Yellow hues don’t always work on fairer skin, while beige and blush tend to fit anyone,” she says. Opacity is another area to consider, as it can also determine how favorable the polish will appear.

There’s one more base to cover before you begin painting, and it’s a simple one: grooming. According to celebrity nail artist, Elle Gerstein, light colors look best when your cuticles are taken care of and flawless. “Poorly groomed nail beds stand out more with a sheer or fair shade,” she says. Furthermore, it can make your manicure look sloppy and misshapen. Her advice? Invest in a salon-quality session that will trim, soften, and prep your nails before polishing.

The Best Light Nail Colors


Trying new nail trends can be enticing, especially when new ones seemingly go viral every day. However, in the case of white-toned polishes, Gerstein recommends using your better judgment before test-driving the look. “Deeper skin tones should be cautious with opaque and sheer whites because they tend to go very gray on these complexions,” she says. Instead, she has a trick that delivers the perfect quiet luxury mani every time. “First, coat your nail with a sheer shimmer polish, and then add a layer of either a milky or translucent white on top.” She explains that this gives the effect of a looking glass and keeps the color from appearing flat and lifeless.


The best way to create a natural lip is using a hue that has pink or flesh-colored undertones. That same sentiment rings true with your manicure. To choose the best color, both experts note that you should first determine how warm or cool the shade is. “If you’re fair-skinned or have naturally blonde hair, look for a celebrity whose features are similar and see what kind of pinks they rely on,” says Gerstein. Once you’ve whittled down your polish, she suggests opting for a high-shine gloss to enhance the color’s appeal.


Like shade matching your foundation, finding a nude polish that complements your skin tone can be a daunting task. But with the right shade, it can do no wrong. According to Chue, texture, and opacity play a big role with this light nail color. Choosing a hue that lacks transparency often results in a creamy finish that’s less forgiving than a sheerer option. To get the balance just right, try using a semi-translucent polish and building up the opacity with several layers. Finally, Chue adds that the shape of your fingernails also goes a long way in the final look. “Nudes go well with any length, but the nails need to be groomed to perfection to really make them shine,” she says.

Warm-Toned Pastels

Choosing a pastel nail polish follows a similar approach to color-correcting makeup. Warmer hues, such as yellow and peach, tend to look best on complexions with complementing undertones, like olive, gold, or brown. These shades will pop against the skin and instantly enhance its tone. If you’re on the hunt for a few new options for spring, Gerstein recommends adding a sheer rosy pink or peachy beige to your rotation.

Cool-Toned Pastels

As for cool-toned pastels, both experts note that sheer is the way to go. Similar to a bright white polish, an opaque hue can have a contrasting effect. With these kinds of light colors, it’s best to opt for thin layers to keep them from looking too harsh against the skin. Chue notes that you can also play with finishes here, using jelly, chrome, or glossy topcoats to create an interesting manicure.

This article was originally published on