Nude Nails: How to Own the Barely There Trend

Here's why we're ready to make like a French lady and swap our bright-hued tips for a more subtle nude mani that's perf for spring

Nude nails are the latest way to polish off a chic ensemble

Nude nails prepped for the Jenny Packham runway (Photo: Courtesy ImaxTree)

I love me some runway inspo, but at the end of the day, it’s the women I encounter IRL that inspire me most. And, by inspire, I mean propel me to steal whatever they’re doing and make it my own. My latest theft occurred late last year.

I met an effortlessly chic woman who hails from Paris (natch) and I was instantly obsessed with everything about her. There was her glowing skin with a near undetectable trace of makeup. Contouring? Pfft! Then there was her spot-on creative professional outfit, comprised of a bad-girl blazer, pretty blouse, skinny jeans and to-die-for black boots.

But it was one teeny, tiny beauty detail that really caught my eye: her no-fuss short nude nails with an incredible sheen. And I’ve been painting my tips thusly ever since.

I know what you’re thinking: nude nails are soooo basic. My typical polish tastes are vampy hues, Day-Glo brights or all of the glitter, and I’ve been known to sport a negative space mani. But there’s something to be said for elements of classic beauty, like simple, healthy-looking nails. And as the nude nails trend that dominated the SS17 runways proves, everything doesn’t have to be all holographic, all the time to make an impact. Check out the sand-blasted effect at Alexander Wang, the pearly white tinge used at Jenny Packham or the ultra-glossy flush pink on display at Erdem.

There are, of course, plenty of ways to do nude like no one else. “A nude nail polish is made suddenly modern when it has an undertone that’s not within the typical skin tone spectrum. Try choosing a nude with mauve or taupe undertones like Ladylike or Jazz,” says Rita Remark, essie Canada Lead Nail Artist, who developed the natural nail looks for the Band of Outsiders and Self-Portrait shows. “Another foolproof way to turn your favourite nude shade into a more modern statement would be to add a matte finish topcoat like Matte About You,” she says.

Nude nail polishes to get that perfect shade

essie Nail Polish in Jazz, $10,; Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Little Peony, $12,; Joe Fresh Gel Look Nail Polish in Cheesecake, $5, at

Part of my love affair with nude nails is that they’re easy to execute, because #lazy. I can slap on a coat of my current go-to, enjoy the instant perk of feeling like I’ve got my sh*t together and get on with things. And maintenance is minimal, which is not to be confused with non-existent.

“Rough or dry cuticles can easily steal the show when they’re framing a minimalist nude manicure,” says Remark, “Make sure to treat yourself to a proper manicure prior to polishing and use cuticle oil to keep them tidy whilst sporting your nude look.”

I know I’m on to something. Last month, when a cool AF beauty biz pro asked me what I was wearing on my nails from across the table (and in a dimly-lit restaurant, no less), it felt hella good. I may not be immune to the siren call of nail art, but for now, my nails and I are daring to bare it.

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