Nude Nail Polishes for Every Skin Tone

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The nude nails trend is still in full force on runways, magazines, and all over Pinterest boards. It could be a collective mood swing away from all the nail art hype, but there are also real benefits to going in the buff on your fingers and toes. Natural hues can make your fingers appear longer, distract from any cuticle damage or wrinkles, and give your hands an overall flawless look. And chips are always less conspicuous with a soft beige than with, say, fire-engine red—so you can go longer without a polish change.

But we also know that the term “nude” is not one-size-fits-all. Just a few short years ago, it was nearly impossible to find a so-called nude to work on every skin tone, according to Gina Carney, founder of RGB Nails. In 2011, Carney was approached by celeb manicurist Jenna Hipp to create a line of nudes. “About 98% of the time, Hipp was asked to do ‘nude’ nails for fashion shoots,” remembers Carney. “She had a real challenge because she discovered there weren’t suitable polishes for every skin tone.”

So, in collaboration with Ms. Hipp, Carney developed one of the first nude nail polish lines to really take off, HIPP x RGB—what they call Nail Foundations and Tints, each in four shades, F1 and T1 for fair skin, F2 and T2 for medium skin, F3 and T3 for olive skin, and F4 and T4 for dark skin tones. If you need help figuring out the right hue, Carney advises to aim for a nail color closest to the foundation you use on your face. “We recommend holding the nail color bottle up to your foundation color to get the starting point,” she says. You can even try doing a quick test on a piece of tissue to see if they match up. Intuitively, the Tints are similar to tinted moisturizer—basically sheerer, more subtle versions of the Foundations. There are also coordinating Nail Sheers—semi-translucent pinks and peaches designed to flatter different skin tones and following the same naming system (S1 to S4).

Though the HIPP x RGB range has spawned hundreds of imitators since, a few years later, these 12 polishes are still our most-reached-for any time we want a neutral mani. Check out the swatches below, and find your perfect shade!

All polishes from the HIPP x RGB collection, $18 each

Skin tone: fair to light

Nail Foundation in F1 | shop it
Nail Tint in T1 | shop it
Nail Sheer in S1 | shop it

Skin tone: light to medium

Nail Foundation in F2 | shop it
Nail Tint in T2 | shop it
Nail Sheer in S2 | shop it

Skin tone: medium to olive

Nail Foundation in F3 | shop it
Nail Tint in T3 | shop it
Nail Sheer in S3 | shop it

Skin tone: dark

Nail Foundation in F4 | shop it
Nail Tint in T4 | shop it
Nail Sheer in S4 | shop it