Manicures are so much more than just colorful fingertips. They're a means of self-expression, self-care, and joy — that is, if you can ever decide on a nail polish color. Picking out a shade among the wide array of options you’re faced with at your local nail salon, beauty-supply store, drugstore, or beauty boutique can prove to be no easy feat. After all, you could be faced with a wall filled with not only hundreds of hues but lots of finish options, like rich cremes, high-shine glitters, and statement mattes.
Remember, it all comes down to your personal preferences at that moment and what you think will make you happiest when you look down at your hands for the next week or so. But if you’re still not sure what color to try next and you're looking for inspiration for where to begin, we’ve pulled together a guide of the best nail polish colors of all time with options from designer, drugstore, and indie brands, all curated by top editorial and celebrity nail artists Miss Pop, Elle, and Mazz Hanna.
Read on to find your new favorite shade.
Fuchsia — the vivid pink-purple shade — is flattering across an array of skin tones. Miss Pop’s go-to version of the nail color is Essie Nail Enamel in Bachelorette Bash, a shimmer-free lacquer that she describes as being inherently "made to party" without being too loud.
Sweeping on a layer of an iridescent nail polish instantly adds dimension to your manicure. For a multicolored shift that borders on magical, Miss Pop suggests painting on one coat of Zoya Professional Lacquer in Leia before sealing your look with a top coat.
Contrary to what some might think, a crisp, alabaster white nail polish color has life after summer. The fresh, snow-like hue has swept the fingertips of celebrities like Millie Bobby Brown and Jennifer Lopez in the cooler months with different high-shine finishes. For an especially versatile bottle of the hue, Miss Pop suggests OPI Nail Lacquer in Alpine Snow, an opaque, stark white that is perfect for both nail art and an all-over coat of color.
$11 (Shop Now)
A cool baby blue is what Miss Pop calls "chill vibes in a bottle." She loves the Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro polish in Above the Clouds, which has a formula that dries with full opacity in as little as one coat.
$20 (Shop Now)
Blackberry — particularly Chanel Le Vernis in Vamp — is a favorite among multiple nail pros, and it makes complete sense as to why. The smoky red hue is so sultry, it earned a Best of Beauty Award, garnered a loyal following, and even spurred its own Wikipedia page. Elle says she can recall an instance where the nail polish sold out and was auctioned for hundreds on eBay the year it first launched.
$28 (Shop Now)
Beige-pink is a nail polish color that's fit for most occasions. Case in point: Essie Nail Enamel in Topless and Barefoot, which has been a favorite at weddings, Fashion Week, and red carpet events. Elle cites this color as a celebrity favorite, noting that it’s Blake Lively’s "go-to nude."
$9 (Shop Now)
Mazz Hanna calls OPI Nail Lacquer in Lincoln Park After Dark — a dark purple that could easily be mistaken for black — a hue that "never goes out of style."
$11 (Shop Now)
A cherry red with blue undertones, like Chanel Le Vernis in Pirate, is both sophisticated and eye-catching. "I can’t count the number of times this color was worn on the red carpet," said Hanna, whose celebrity clients often request this shade.
$11 (Shop Now)
A deep, violet nail polish color is equal parts regal and approachable. LeChat Dare to Wear Lacquer in Violet Fizz, a jewel-tone purple, makes the case for this, and is, according to Elle, one of Emilia Clarke’s favorite nail colors.
$11 (Shop Now)
Having a blush-pink nail polish color in your arsenal can create a base for a classic french manicure or a clean canvas for negative-space nail art. Hanna gravitates toward Orly Breathable Nail Polish in Kiss Me I'm Kind for its price point. "It applies like a polish that is three times the cost," she said.
A dark, nearly black shade of brown adds an element of mystery to your manicure. An example of this is Essie Nail Enamel in Wicked, which Elle said was born from the demand for vampy shades after Chanel Le Vernis in Vamp had initially sold out.
In a sea of blue hues, there is one shade that stands out. Elle calls indigo — particularly the shimmering OPI Nail Lacquer in Russian Navy — a statement-making nail polish color.
A hue midway between silver and gold creates a manicure that is both elegant and mysterious. Hanna recommends the Emelie Heathe Nail Artist in Billions, which she describes as a perfect metallic that that looks great on every nail shape, length, and skin tone.