We’re big fans of bright shades and eye-catching nail art here, but when we have a special occasion coming up where we don’t want to risk chipping or we simply need a palette cleanser, we reach for a nude polish. It’s clean, it’s classic and it goes with any outfit.

The tricky part comes with choosing the exact nude polish for your skin tone. Ironically, you don’t actually want to find a perfect match; you want to go one shade lighter or darker to compliment your natural skin tone, as opposed to just having everything blend together.

And of course, there are undertones to consider. Cool tones, warm tones, neutral tones: We know, it’s a lot to consider, so we’re here to take your (ahem) hand and guide you through the process of (double ahem) nailing the nude polish look ahead.

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1. Olive & June Nail Polish in “EC”

Best Barely-There Nude

If you like the look of a buffed nail (i.e., a healthy, subtle sheen), reach for this sheer shade that has a flattering filter effect. Formulated with the brand’s proprietary Flora Complex, a blend of strengthening and nourishing ingredients, it also doubles as a treatment for weak tips.

Buy it ($8)

2. Orly Breathable Treatment + Color in “You’re a Doll”

Best for Fair Skin

Those with fairer complexions tend to look best in cool-toned pinks that subtly brighten your nails without overwhelming them. This one has a milky, full coverage formula that goes on smoothly and really pops against your skin.

Buy it ($10)

3. Jinsoon Nail Polish in “Nostalgia”

Best for Medium Skin

Nude polishes that have equal parts pink and beige undertones work well with medium skin because they provide just the right amount of contrast, while picking up the inherent warmth of your complexion. This one by Jinsoon strikes that perfect balance and makes your nails look longer and sleeker whenever you wear it.

Buy it ($18)

4. OPI Nail Lacquer in “Samoan Sand”

Best for Olive Skin

Fact: A warmer beige that’s slightly brighter than your skin will bring out your natural tan. This cult classic from OPI has golden undertones that are especially flattering as your skin deepens during the summer months (though it still looks great long after your tan fades in the winter).

Buy it ($11)

5. Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro in “I’m My Own Hero”

Best for Dark Skin

Rose or taupe shades are particularly pretty against darker skin because they provide just the right amount of contrast, while adding a touch of warmth. We love this one by Deborah Lippmann because of its opaque formula and super shiny finish.

Buy it ($20)

6. Mented Cosmetics Nail Lacquer in “Brown & Bougie”

Best for Deep Skin

Darker skin can handle a variety of colors, but coffee-colored hues like cocoa and mocha are especially flattering. Mented’s “Brown & Bougie” looks rich and velvety on your nails and not in the least bit pale or washed out against your skin.

Buy it ($8)

7. OPI Nail Polish Infinite Shine Long-Wear Lacquer in “Bubble Bath”

Best for Shine

Of the thousands of shades in their expansive repertoire, OPI’s “Bubble Bath” is a consistent (and worldwide) bestseller—and has been for many years. We get it: The soft candy pink tint and glossy shine give your nails a nice polish. (Pun very much intended.)

Buy it ($13)

8. Pronto Neutral Collection 4 Pieces Color Set in “Stay Naked Stay Nude”

Best Value

If you still can’t decide between shades, you can always try this 4-piece set, which features a curated range of neutral polishes that are 12-free, go on smoothly and dry quickly. (The mix-and-match shades also take the guesswork of matching your mani to your pedi.)

Buy it ($12)

9. Beetles Gel Polish Set

Best Gel Polish

If you still want variety but prefer a gel mani, the Beetles set is your best bet. Complete with six shades of pink and nude polishes, you can easily find the right match for your skin tone (even during those transitional months when you’re paler or darker than usual).

Buy it ($14)

10. ILNP Nail Lacquer in Birthday Suit

Best Shimmer

Nude doesn’t have to mean boring—especially when you add a holographic shimmer to the mix. “Birthday suit” by ILNP is a soft cashmere pink that’s embedded with a superfine micro glitter that shines in any light without looking gritty or garish. (Fun fact: ILNP stands for “I love nail polish.” Same.)

Buy it ($10)

11. Essie “Topless & Barefoot”

The Fan Favorite

This iconic Essie shade is as universally flattering as a nude polish can get. With an equal blend of beige, cream and pink tones (and a barely perceptible shimmer that elevates the overall effect), it’s a failsafe pick the next time you’re confronted with the polish wall at your salon.

Buy it ($9)

12. Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Color in “504 Organdi”

Best Splurge

Like “Topless & Barefoot,” Chanel’s “Organdi” is another nude that magically works on all skin tones. The soft blush toned hue gives full coverage without looking streaky and looks just as good on its own as it does with a French tip or a minimalist design.

Buy it ($28)

13. Eternal 4 Collection in “Wild Nudes”

Fastest Drying

Fans praise this 4-piece set for having good coverage and a quick dry time. Choose from a toasted almond shade, a caramel tone, toffee or coffee—or wear a different hue on each finger to rock the tonal mani trend.

Buy it ($13)

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