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Best nude nail polish

Which nude nail polish is best?

Besides being versatile and neutral, nude nail polish is nail art that lends itself to day or night wear. Most recently, the sophisticated trend has been seen on the hands of models and red-carpet celebrities. It’s no surprise that many people have decided to add nude shades to their nail polish collections.

To get the most out of a nude polish look, you may need to try a few shades before finding the right one. Many polish brands now offer inclusive shade collections, such as the top choice, Eternal 4 Collection Dark Nudes Nail Polish.

What to know before you buy a nude nail polish

How to find the right shade of nude polish

In the world of manicures, nude polish refers to colors that are close in shade to skin tones. Several nail brands have recently expanded their collections to feature more inclusive shade ranges, making it easier for more consumers to find flattering shades. 

Selecting a nude nail polish often involves trial and error because many shades appear much lighter or darker when applied. Shades that are much lighter than your skin tone may create a noticeable contrast, and shades that are much darker may not achieve the nude look. Some nail art enthusiasts, however, are partial to slight shade differences between nude polish and skin tones. 

How to style nude polish

While nude polish can be worn on its own, it’s often styled to achieve different nail art or fashion looks. Understated nude manicures, for example, let ornate ring sets shine as statement accessories. Some nude nail looks are used for modern French manicures as base or tip colors. Nude polish is also popular as a neutral base color for nail art stickers or designs.

How to get the best nude nail polish application

Nude polish is a simple look that requires the right application techniques to look its best. Here are a few ways you can get the most out of a nude nail polish manicure at home. 

  • Manicure: Prior to polish application, you’ll need a manicure. Besides filing and shaping nails, push back or trim cuticles. 
  • Apply additional coats: To maximize the polish’s wear time, always apply a base coat and top coat.
  • Take care of your polish: After you’ve applied nude polish, avoid any “scraping” activities to prevent chips. 
  • Moisturize: Between manicures, keep hands and cuticles moisturized with rich hand creams and cuticle oil. 

What to look for in a quality nude nail polish

Gel vs. regular nail polish

Regular nail polish can be applied to natural nails without any special products or preparation. It comes off easily with most nail polish removers as well. However, these formulas rarely last as long as gel polish manicures. On average, it’s common for them to chip or crack within a week.

Gel nail polish, on the other hand, has an involved application that requires special base coats, top coats and curing with a nail lamp. These polish formulas offer long wear times, which may last two to three weeks. One of the drawbacks, however, is that gel polish often contains chemicals that may damage nails over time. 


Many nude polish varieties have glossy finishes, but it’s not the only one available. Matte nude polishes offer a sleek, modern look, whereas metallic, iridescent or pearlescent finishes add depth and dimension. There are some nude polishes with understated glitter or shimmer finishes as well. 

Fast-drying formulas

Fast-drying nail polishes are popular for quick-and-easy applications. Many of these formulas require only one coat to appear opaque, which means overall manicure time is cut in half — or less — compared to regular polishes. Unfortunately, some of these nail polishes may be difficult to spread across nails because they dry so quickly. 

Nontoxic formulas

Many nail polish varieties are now marked as “X- Free” formulas, in which they are made without common chemicals or animal-derived materials. These formulas are advertised as “X-Free,” featuring the number of ingredients they’re free of, such as “7-Free.” Their packaging usually lists which ingredients those are as well. 

How much you can expect to spend on nude nail polish

Nude nail polish starts at $3 per bottle, while salon-quality formulas may run $11-$40 per bottle. If you’re investing in nude nail polish shade collections, be prepared to spend $12-$40.

Nude nail polish FAQ

How many coats of nude nail polish do you need to apply?

A. It depends on the opacity of the formula. Some fast-drying formulas are thick and only require a single coat; other formulas may require between two and three coats to achieve opaque application.

What is the shelf life of nail polish?

A. Unfortunately, nail polish manufacturers usually don’t list expiration dates on their packaging. However, most nail polish lasts up to 24 months after it’s opened. Unopened polish may last for several years.

What's the best nude nail polish to buy?

Top nude nail polish

Eternal 4 Collection Dark Nudes Nail Polish

What you need to know: This set of four polishes is well-received for its inclusive shade range and 12-Free formula. 

What you’ll love: The nail polish is suitable for all types of manicures, including natural, acrylic or gel nails. Its 12-Free formula is free of a dozen heavy chemicals and animal-derived ingredients. The polish offers a smooth application and is quick to dry.

What you should consider: The polish may require two or three coats for it not to appear thin or streaky. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top nude nail polish for the money

Essie Wild Nude Glossy Shine Nail Polish

What you need to know: A salon-quality formula, this nude polish can be worn as sheer with one coat or opaque with a few coats. 

What you’ll love: The vegan polish has a high-gloss finish that reflects light. The collection includes dozens of shades to match many skin tones. With its long-lasting formula, the polish may last well over a week without chips. 

What you should consider: After application, buyers felt some shades appeared different from what they expected. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

OPI Infinite Shine Long-Wear Nail Polish

What you need to know: This long-wear nail polish is available in an inclusive range of nude shades. 

What you’ll love: It has a super-shiny finish that looks like gel but without extra hassle. It's chip-resistant and lasts up to 11 days. The wide range of shades suits most skin tones. 

What you should consider: It's part of a three-step system, but the base and top coats aren't included. 

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta Beauty

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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