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The Best White Nail Polishes For Summer, Including An $8 Drugstore Fave

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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

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

Nail Polish in Kookie White

$18

JINsoon

This shade contains touches of blue and gray.

La Laque Couture in Blanc Arty

$28

YSL Beauty

This long-wear formula is moisturizing, which helps prevent chips. The white goes onto nails smoothly and dries with a high-shine finish.

Nail Polish in Regret the Moon

$18

Smith & Cult

This opaque formula offers a hint of pink which helps the white shade stand out on fairer skin tones.

Nail Polish in Champagne Toast

$18

Lauren B Beauty

For a softer white with just a hint of shimmer, Noire recommends this shade. It looks beige in the bottle, but also reads like a soft white against fair skin.

Medium Skin

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

Nail Polish in Mrs. Tony Montana

$9

Floss Gloss

The white by Floss Gloss is a pure white polish with no additional colors or shimmer. After the polish dries, you'll have a completely opaque, matte finish.

Nail Lacquer in Alpine Snow

$10.50

OPI

This pale white tinged with gray looks *so* clean. To enhance the color, add a top coat for high shine.

Nail Polish in Sugarette

$18

Smith & Cult

Sugarette is a metallic white shade that offers full coverage once it's swiped across the nails. You won't need more than two coats because of its smooth and buildable texture.

Dark Skin

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

Nail Polish in Blanc

$8.49

Essie

This white shade leaves no streaks or bare spots on the nails. The white is rich, clean, and easy to preserve.

Nail Lacquer in Funny Bunny

$10.50

OPI

This OPI shade is on the sheer side, but it's still pigmented enough to wear alone. The soft white remains a great neutral option for the summer.

Gel Lab Pro Color in Amazing Grace

$20

Deborah Lippmann

If you like the benefits of gel polish, give this one a try. The formula offers gel-like finish, and the tone is amazingly rich.

Deep Skin

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

Nail Polish in Ecume

$20

NARS

You could be a week in with this polish on, and it would still look fresh. The color stays bright and clean for over a week and offers a glossy look.

Nail Polish in Marshmallow

$8

Essie

This shade's name evokes the actual color of the tone — marshmallow. It's a bright and crisp white that will quickly become a favorite in your collection.

Nail Polish in Purity

$10

Zoya

This stark, white shade will give your nails a bold and glossy finish.

Nail Lacquer in Kyoto Pearl

$10.50

OPI

Noire also suggests this shimmery white shade for the summer months — it looks so pretty in the sunlight.