The Nail Colour Dilemma: Complementing Your Skin Tone

The Nail Colour Dilemma: Complementing Your Skin Tone

Charmaine Kon by Charmaine Kon on Aug 6, 2016
Why you should care

Don’t do your skin tone injustice by picking a nail colour that’s all wrong for you.

There are few moments in your life that feels like forever. First, the moment you fall in love; second, the moment your heart breaks; and third, the moment your nail therapist asks you, “Have you chosen your colour?”

There are 1000 ways to call ‘red’ for any given nail polish brand. With all these colours, how do you decide on one that will look good on you? A good indicator is your skin tone. Based on simple colour theories, your skin tone is a good way to pick out not only complementary nail colours, but also makeup and clothes.

A general rule of thumb is that lighter skin tones look better with lighter nail colours, and vice versa – that’s basic colour theory. But what about other things like contrast? Here’s a cheat sheet on colours that would look good on your skin tone.

You might lie somewhere on these spectrum of colours, so use this as a guide before sampling colours!

1 Light Skin Tones

Most very fair-skinned people have cool undertones. To see if you have cool or warm undertones, check the veins on your wrist. If they are greenish, then you are warm-toned. If they are bluish or purplish, then you are cool-toned. This applies to everyone!

If you are very fair and have cool undertones, choose colours with warm undertones as using equally cool colours will make your skin look sallow. Go for pastel shades which can still stand out against your skin or bright colours which offer a nice contrast without dulling your tone.

OPI’s This Cost Me A Mint

OPI mint colour


If you like neutrals and nudes, go for ones with pink undertones. Opting for a beigey one will more likely blend into your skin tone, defeating the purpose of wearing polish in the first place.

Go for dark blues and reds which will contrast well against your skin. Stay away from black though, as that will give you a vampy look – and not even the good kind.

Essie’s Style Cartel

Essie style cartel blue


2 Medium Skin Tones

If you have a warmer undertone like olive, wear a colour with gold, bronze, or orange undertones. As for pinks, go for those with peach and coral inclinations.

China Glaze’s Sun of a Peach

China glaze peach


In the same way that pastels look good on light skinned baes, so will a more pigmented colour work well on you. If you’re going for blues and purples, choose ones with medium to deep tones, and with rich pigments.

When sporting nudes, go for beigey ones. They will complement your colouring well, and will be oh-so-gorgeous with a matching nude lip.

OPI’s Samoan Sand

opi samoan sand nude


3 Dark Skin Tones

Dark skin baes have the most colour options, as most colours will look good on you! Opt for deep, vibrant, and dramatic colours that will stand out. Avoid colours that are too light like baby pink and choose instead neon pinks and fuchsias.

Essie’s Watermelon

Essie watermelon


When venturing into purples, try a darker shade that might be too dark for lighter skin tones – flaunt what you’ve got! As for blues, try a bright one – the drama will be breath-taking on you.

Zoya’s Sia

Zoya sia


Keep your nudes light in any undertone. As for reds? The world is your oyster. Almost any red will look smashing!

Why you should care

Don’t do your skin tone injustice by picking a nail colour that’s all wrong for you.

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