The Best Red Nail Polishes Of All Time, According To Hollywood Pros
Much like crimson lipstick, red nails are a classic beauty choice. Red is historically bold, daring, and adventurous... and yet, there's something almost familiar about the best red nail polishes of 2019. Even though the hue is bright and often pushes boundaries, red nails add the right amount of color that can elevate any look.
"I love red nail polish!" nail expert Martha Fekete tells TZR. "I’m the happiest when I’m asked to use it at a shoot because it’s great on all skin tones, all nail shapes, and all nail lengths."
If you're going to go red, finding the right shade is vital — and not always easy. Naomi Yasuda, a celebrity nail artist whose clients include Rita Ora and Lady Gaga, agrees: “There are so many shades of red and finding the perfect one can be tricky," she tells TZR. "It’s very important to know your skin tone. For dark skin, I love bright reds with an orange undertone, and very deep purple reds too!" Celebrity nail artist Fleury Rose says medium skin tones can pick between bright and cooler reds, but, "for fair skin I like blue-based reds, or pinkish reds," Rose says.
And Julie Kandalec, a New York City-based nail artist, taught us a fail-safe way to determine how many coats of red polish you'll need: "When you unscrew the cap, look into the neck of the bottle at a 45 degree angle. If you can see through the polish that's on the neck of the bottle, you'll most likely need three coats since it’s more of a jelly coverage," tells TZR. "But, if you can’t see through it, you can get away with two coats and because it's more opaque." This trick works with similarly bright colors, but can be tricky with neutrals.
Still, even the best red polish can fall flat without a little help, says celebrity manicurist Kayo Higuchi tells TZR, who recommends a high-gloss top coat to seal in the shine. (TZR editors and the internet alike prefer Seche Vite's Dry Fast Top Coat, which garnered almost 1200 five-star reviews at Ulta alone.) “Also, hydrate your cuticles!" Higuchi says. "After the polish is dry, always hydrate the cuticles with cuticle oil.” Extra points if you can remember to oil up your nail beds before you go to sleep every night.
If you're ready to make a list of the best red nail polishes, scroll ahead to see celebrity nail artists' top favorites.
Longwear Nail Color in Rouge Puissant
A favorite of Higuchi, Chanel's polishes are a nail collection staple.
Vernis in Rouge #999
Offered in couture color, gel shine, and long-wear lacquer formulas, this red caters to every nail need. The color applies smoothly and evenly, which is why it's also one of Higuchi's go-tos.
Nail Lacquer in Carnal Red
Tom Ford's classic red is a true, bright red — and it sells out quickly.
La Laque Couture in Rouge Pop Art
Looking for a brighter red? Rose recommends this shade from YSL, which boasts rose oil to keep nails hydrated — even with two layers of polish.
Nail Polish in Gangsta Boo
Another favorite of Rose, this cherry red is free of harsh chemicals like formaldehyde resin.
Limited Edition Nail Polish in #4
Clè De Peau
Higuchi loves this pinkish-red shade for anyone looking for something less classic. Even though there's a hint of pink, the red payoff is still rich and creamy.
Infinite Shine Nail Polish in Candy Apple Red
"This is the perfect red. I’ve been using this polish for almost 15 years!" Yasuda says.
Gel Couture Nail Polish in Bubbles Only
This favorite of Fekete offers gel-like color, without the gel. You'll get a great color payoff from a few strokes of polish.
Longwear Nail Color in Pirate
A favorite of Rose, this Chanel red is a bit deeper than a traditional rouge.
Longwear Nail Color in Emblématique
Kandalec likes this red because it's deeper than a candy apple red, "yet, closer to oxblood."
Nail Polish in Bordeaux Lust
Higuchi also recommends this shade by Tom Ford. You'll only need about one coat of the polish to have a set of beautiful red nails.
Nail Lacquer in Black Cherry
The darkest red we could find, this polish "looks great with short or long nails," Yasuda says.
Nail Polish in Single Ladies
"For a deeper look, I love Deborah Lippmann's 'Single Ladies' polish. It's very romantic and bold," says Sarah Chue, a celebrity nail artist who works with Kris Jenner and Ariana Grande.