Nail art is dead! All hail nude nails. Here’s how, and which shade is right for you.

Nail art was never going to last, we all knew that.

Oh COME ON, how many pictures of scrunched up claw hands with ombre polish or newspaper prints or American flags or godamn Nintendo characters must we be reduced to on Instagram before we decide enough is enough? Yeah I’ve done it, shoosh. But I don’t do it anymore. It’s not special or exciting or unique if we’re all doing is doing it, is it?  This is an industry of swift trends and what’s fun and enchanting this minute almost definitely won’t be in five minutes time. Just ask anyone who swore by at home micro-dermabrasion kits back in 2006. (“Me.”)

Watermelon nail art

Stop! No more!  Eat watermelons, don’t paint them on your nails.

Even if nail art hasn’t been officially called, then pass me my official calling skivvy and allow me to don my Calling It cap, for I am calling it. Let’s all cool it with the palm trees and pineapples and glitter tips for a bit.

I’m not entirely making this all up – a recent article in WWD compared nail polish’s meteoric rise back in the “recession” days of 2011, when sales went up 67% for high-end polish brands, and 35.7% for pharmacy brands, to what they are sitting at now, two years later, at 19% a piece. Which, yes, is still pretty good growth, but the boom-boom for polish has definitely gone.

Could be because there are so many brands on the (DIY nail art especially) nail polish bandwagon now, and competition is tough.

Could be a sign that the economy is back on its feet (nail polish, like lipstick sales always increase when there is an economic downturn).

Could be a sign that we are all just really into gel manicures and pedicures now, and traditional nail polish, with all that smudging and chipping, won’t cut it.

Could just be because like most trends, and therefore proving the very definition of the word, this trend is now over and a new one is about to rise.

IF I may be so bold, I would like to suggest that this new “trend” is for a complete and polar opposite to everything nail art is, which is to say, beautiful simple, nude, natural nails. I use “these” around the word “trend” because nude, natural nails are always in. Always.


Daaaamn. Eva Mendes knows how to give good nude nail.

Whether that’s just a lovely nude, natural shade of polish (more on those in a moment) or gel (I use OPI Bubble Bath or CND Romantique) or just healthy polish free nails that are beautifully buffed, neat and shiny, there is something clean and fresh, and refreshing about simple, chic plain nails after a few years of so much colour and movement.

I’m quite partial to a coat of clear and some white pencil under the tip of the nail, you know, like we used to all do back before reality TV shows made the French manicure so incredibly tacky.


1. Make sure your nails are short, neat and naturally shaped. Naturally shaped, for the record, is usually the most flattering shape for your fingers, because it mirrors the way your cuticle sits at the bottom edge of the nail.

2. Choose the right nude/natural for your skin tone. Think of your nude polish as you would foundation, it has to match your skin tone. Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lopez might both be wearing “nude” polish but oh MY, will the shades they wear differ.

Basically, do your hands look better or worse with that nude polish? If your nude polish makes your hands look dead or sick, or chalky and cold, or dirty, or yellow, or red and raw, or your cuticle is really standing out, then you have chosen the wrong shade. If your hands look lovely, clean and neat, well, you’ve nailed it. Oh, well done Fosters.

Also, there are sheer and opaque nudes, the more sheer you go, the more truly natural you will look, but if you get the perfect shade, opaque can look just as delightful. One coat of sheer with one coat of opaque can give a lovely finish – don’t be bound to one polish per mani.


Generally you should probably head towards soft, creamy, mauve-based ballet pinks. Try: L’Oreal Colour Riche Nail in How Romantic, Essie in Brooch The Subject or Allure, Deborah Lipmann in Tiny Dancer, Sally Hansen Complete Manicure in Shell We Dance.

ShellWeDance HowRomantic


Something with a hint of peach or beige will be most flattering on us birds. Try: OPI Samoan Sand (my favourite), Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Royal Blush, Chanel Beige, Revlon Colorstay Longwear Enamel in Sandy Nude, Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Nudite (It’s worth checking out the collection, French Nudes, this is from as there is a nude for every skin tone, ready-made, all done, bing bam zap.)

 estee-lauder-nudite samoansand



Try coffee-coloured hues of nude and tan. Try:  OPI Tickle My Francey, Laura Mercier Lacquer in Bare Mocha, Essie Sand of a Beach, Chanel Inattendu, Dior Vernis in Nude Chic or Butter London in Tea and Toast.


Chanel_inattendu ButterLondonTeaAndToast

3. Maintain with top coat every second day to keep up the shine and prolong the life of your mani. I love Sally Hansen’s Mega Shine. Oh, and definitely steer clear of matte finishes. A high-shine finish ensures your nail stands out and looks healthy, even if the colour is extremely subtle.

4. Consider the toes. I was always a bright orange pedicure bird until a few years ago when I went soft sheer pink while on holiday in Greece. Felt better with my slight tan and leather sandals for some reason. More chic. Cleaner. More elegant. Toes are ugly enough without adding harsh colour, I realised, and I never looked back. Try it and see. But make sure you get the right nude for your skin tone – like I said, toes are ugly enough, they don’t need much assistance to look even more unattractive. But the perfect nude shade to complement your skin, and a neat, short shape – splendid.

Did I forget your favourite nude?

Was it this guy?


Sorry, you know what I mean. Pop your most loved nude polish in comments below with your skin tone and share your wisdom!

Responses to this drivel: 38 Comments
Responses to this drivel ( 38 )
  • Mindy

    LOVE nude nails. I own no less than 83 shades of nail polish (mostly purchased during the Great Brights era of 2010-12) and, after recent experiments with nude/blush/shell colours, I’m converted. Not only do nudey nails look more classy and grown up, they also seem to last longer than bright or vivid shades, as little chips are much less noticeable. Bewdy!

  • Missamoo

    I love my manicurist who does the most gorgeous nail art all by hand. I’m sticking with it until I’m bored. I have to dress in a certain way in all my jobs but this is the one thing I can be nuts with. Having said that I may go to nude later.

  • Sarah

    OPI Mimosa’s for Mr and Mrs is my favourite.

    • Anna

      I couldn’t agree more. I have been ten times around the block (…so to speak) trying to find the ideal nude, but keep coming back to this one – it’s perfect!

  • L

    Just did a classic French Mani last night – need a bit more practice though! My fave pale colour for my skin is CCO strawberry smoothie. I can get 10 days out of it – love shellac

  • Elina

    My faves are Don’t Pretzel My Buttons from OPI and Bare Bones from the Revlon Colorstay range for my pale olive skin!

  • Kirra

    My favourite nude shade is Essie Ladylike, it’s a gorgeous mauve/pink/lilac/grey shade that is SO flattering. As beige nails make me look like I have mannequin hands.

  • Jennie Geisker

    Thank goodness… i hate nail art!

  • sophie

    OPI My vampire is Buff is my absolute favourite, feel odd wearing colours now!

  • LD

    I don’t ever paint my nails on my hands. Ever. Too much work. And when I do they just hate it and it takes weeks to get them back to perfect health. But because I don’t paint them I have lovely, strong and very healthy nails that grow really quickly and look lovely bare. However, saying that I loathe LOATHE bare toenails. God it’s so putrid. I love bright colours on my toes and they are always painted. And if anyone comes anywhere near me with bare toenails I completely freak out. FOUL…JUST FOUL.

  • Lizzy

    How can you tell if your skin is cool or warm toned? I never know what this means when I see it written. My skin has a very pink/red undertone

  • Andrea

    My absolute favourite nude is OPI Coney Island Cotton Candy. I’ve worn it on my fingernails for years – but never on my toenails! I agree with the comment before – anything goes on toes (except nail art, of course. Oh, and also French pedicures. Yuck.)

  • Celine

    I have a medium/olive skin tone & Essie’s Sand Tropez is like Jesus- highly recommend it!

  • Renee

    I still do the short square shape on my nails and much prefer the lighter shades…everyone and then I do black or a bright aqua colour but the lights often win out. Will have to go hunting for a nude colour next 🙂

  • Alice Shaw

    I’m sorry, I must respectfully disagree. Whilst I’m not a fan of nail art and I do embrace a nude nail, I simply cannot give up my OPI I’m Not Really A Waitress and of course, the best winter colour of all Lincoln Park After Dark. I’ll happily go nude (you may have heard…) but I will always endorse a colour 🙂

  • Msthisnthatblog

    I have fair skin and I adore OPI’s Bubblebath. 3 layers + a shiny top coat is so classic and chic!


    Does look great with a tan -very classy ! Baby salmon in the bio sculpture is probably my favourite one

  • MISS FOX Melbourne

    We are always delighted to take awesome nail art requests, but we are *loving* the new trend toward classic and nude nails! We’ve just added a heaps of beautiful nudies to our gel and gel-polish collections. Loving glossy Biosculpture like Nailed Ink (above). But pink + white French manicures, you are not our friend. x

  • lauren

    I have always been a big fan of lovely, clean, nude nails and after many years flitting between OPI shades, I have now actually settled on Essie Allure as my go-to. It seems to last for ages and I like that I can see the white tips of my nails (with a lil white pencil brightening) if I only do 1 or 2 coats.
    My trouble is toes.
    I’m still very keen to have coral toesies. I like the brightness, I feel more tanned with the pop of colour and I find going nude just sometimes looks….dirty….somhow.
    Is it really such a crime to have different colours on toes to fingers? My friend Emma would say most definitely, but I dunno, something about the nail mullet (business on the hands, party on the feet) just seems to work for me.
    I am happy to matchy-match if I’m on holidays or something and know I’m going to have bare hands and feet for most of the time, but in everyday life my feet are usually covered and I want my hands to look neat and professional.
    What say you to this nail rebellion, Fruity?

  • Melanie Lachal

    The Nude Hue has been a staple polish to our clients for some time ,with ‘Soman Sand’ by O.P.I a clear leader . Tip : 3 thin coats gets the best result .
    I still believe nail art has its place in our industry , However lets stop drowning in it please .
    NUDE nails = Class. Especially when professionally applied.
    P.S We agree with Miss Fox regarding pink+white French …..eek

  • Grace

    I was SO SO HAPPY to find that my beloved Dr Lewinn’s revita-nail – which absolutely saved my flakey weak/ always breaking nails (Yeah, thanks for those genes Mum!), but has an annoying tendency to go a bit manky yellow/ not pretty looking towards the end of the week after a few top up coats… NOW COMES IN PRETTY PINK SHEER/TINT COLOUR!!!!!!!! and there was also a peachy one too and a bright red!
    So much easier/ quicker than faffing around with a ballet pink colour underneath all the beneficial ridiculously strengthening revita-nail layers. I did actually bother with said faffing, but then my rimmel nail tip whitener ran out/ sadly now appears not to exist anymore and I hadn’t found a suitable replacement HG whitener. Which, as a time-pressed/ lazy girl with a strong penchant for french mani/ nude nails a la Duchess of Cambridge engagement ring photoshoot (perfection!) …lets just say that was a traumatic period!
    Hence, I could have cried, right there in the hand cream aisle of chemist warehouse when I first spotted the pink /coloured revitanails a few weeks ago (on special too, bless its cotton socks!)
    It looks tremendous, very whitening/ brightening for the tips, and just a tad pink/ heathy shine look over all. and my nails are SO STRONG and healthy again!
    Happiness is… finding a replacement for a discontinued HG thats cross-bred with another favourite product!

  • Beck

    OPI in ‘My Vampire Is Buff’ is the only nude polish i ever wear. I’m not a huge nail art fiend but i will defend my dark berry talons to the bitter end

  • chippochic

    Love nude nails or even white! looks so clean, but love coral on the toes. I’m in Hawaii at the moment and they look so good with tanned feet. I agree with Zoe, toes are pretty ugly. Hate French, got over it years ago.

    Agree with Grace, revitanail is the bomb. Fixed my nails after having acrylics in no time.

  • Trinity Dickson

    Hi Zoe, do you have any advice for extreme problem nails… Especially weak/peeling? Mine just won’t behave and I’ve tried Sally Hansen products and they seem to make mine worse. Boo hiss! I’m lucky enough to be soon anointed with a gorg engagement ring but can’t bare to show it off with my short, peeling and non-diamond worthy nails! Help pretty please!

  • sammi

    used to hate nail art, now totally love it and revlon does some reallllly awesome colours and stays on for ages!

  • Nic

    Loving OPI’s Tickle Me France-y. Nude with just enough pink to be sweet.

  • Carly

    I can’t go past OPI Dulce de leche….

  • Kellie

    I love a nude nail. I find they’re a fail proof way of having neat nail polish. It’s harder to get a darker polish to look ‘perfect’. My favourite nude nail colour at the moment is Opi’s Tickle My Francey.

  • How to do nude nails | Vitality

    […] Foster Blake , nail art is dead and it’s time to strip off some of those layers. On her Fruity Beauty blog, the beauty guru says, “Nail art was never going to last, we all knew that… If I may be […]

  • Ozlicious

    My favourite nude nail is Shellac – one coat of Romantique over the top of one coat of Cocoa.

    You can all thank me later.

  • Maria SoNailicious

    Nail art is dead? HA HA HA! Did you write this post in 2013? Well, it’s 2015 now and guess what? Nail art is going stronger than ever. <3 xx

  • Pussycat

    There is a place for nail art for ‘some nail types’  Each to their own? Whatever makes one happy, if you are paying for a service have whatever you want. I myselfove Shellac polish and at the moment am in love with beckoning begonia, lush x

  • Dre

    I knew you said matte nudes aren’t cute but I’m still looking to find a matte nude gel. Any suggestions?

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