The Best White Nail Polish Isn't *Actually* White


Whoever decided that summer whites were an official staple is a mastermind in my opinion. Not only is it almost time to pull out your separates, but it's also the season to bless your fingertips with the best white nail polishes.

It feels like there are thousands of milky lacquers in a variety of finishes, so finding one to become your signature shade isn't always a breeze. But instead of following a specific set of rules, test a few polishes out against your skin to see what the most flattering shades are, Geraldine Holford, a celebrity manicurist, suggests. Just a quick swipe of the polish onto the nail will give you a good sense of the shade.

Note that when looking for the best shade for your skin tone, keep in mind that a bright white with more opacity will read more bold than something semi-sheer. "This holds true for every skin type," Pilar Noire, a Los Angeles-based nail artist, notes.

And once you find your shade, application is key for a non-streaky application is vital. “Paint a very, very thin first coat,” Holford explains. “You’ll want to leave it alone to dry for a good two minutes. Then with your second coat, you can allow more.” As with all nail polish, a base coat is of optimal importance — and one with a milky base will bring out the best in your shade, according to Glamour.

By nature of light polish, white shades are prone to getting stained and dirty... but not when you layer properly. "Keep the integrity of the polish by reapplying your favorite top coat to prevent the color coat from being exposed to both chipping and staining," Noire suggests.

Ahead, see the white shades that are right for you.

Fair Skin


"For very fair tones, I like to use a diffused white with touches of blue and pink," Holford says.

Medium Skin


Warmer skin tones do well with various shades. You can wear pure whites, or shades with a hint on cream to enhance your undertones.

Dark Skin


"For dark skin, I like a soft tone that will show off a tan," Holford explains.

Deep Skin


Stark white polishes highlight the richness of deeper skin tones. Use shades that have almost neon-like qualities for the best payoff.