Nude Nail Polish Guide

By: Taotao Li

Photos by: Helena Yang

With a multitude of beige, pink, and cream nail polishes to choose from, it can be difficult to find your perfect nude shade. The search is made all the more difficult by the whitewashing of what “nude” colors look like – typically some sort of sandy beige that hardly caters to the full spectrum of skin tones. Unfortunately, this exclusive standard for “nude” has not been completely erased, but companies such as Zoya, Essie, and Christian Louboutin are beginning to demonstrate increased awareness and promotion of inclusivity in their polish shades. When selecting a nude polish, an important factor to consider is the undertone of your skin (warm vs. cool or pink vs. yellow/golden). Different pink, brown and beige polishes will compliment different undertones. If you find yourself struggling, just follow our expert tips to help lead you to your ideal nude.


  1. For fair, cool skin tones, opt for light, pale pinks, such as Essie’s “East Hampton Cottage,” or sheer cream polishes. A tip when applying is to avoid painting on too much polish; as opposed to completely covering or concealing your nail bed, apply these colors in thin layers to add shine and a mild hint of color.
  2. Medium and olive skin tones with warmer hues can try creamier beiges, such as Zoya’s “Cho” that more closely match your skin tone for a chic, monochromatic manicure.
  3. Taupe-y beiges make for a good color for those with cooler undertones. Essie’s “Tonal Taupe” incorporates a good balance of taupe and beige without being overly warm or too ashy.


  1. Dusty rose colors complement dark skin tones well, particularly those with cool to neutral undertones. Reference polishes like Zoya’s “Jill” to find the optimal muted rose.
  2. For dark skin tones with warmer undertones, look for espressos and colors that resemble brown sugar. For instance, Zoya’s “Flynn” and Louise” both contain rich tones that look most natural on darker skin tones.


TAOTAO LI is a freshman in the College, hoping to pursue a major in Government and about 30 other things. She is a writer for 37th and is passionate about social justice issues, Pixar’s Ratatouille, and blowing every penny she’s ever earned on skin care.



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