The Neutral Nail Polish Shade I Always Get Complimented On

neutral nail polish shadeneutral nail polish shade

Sometimes when life feels a little chaotic, small things like doing my nails make me feel a bit more 'put together'.

And this past year, we've all become obsessed with mastering the art of at-home nails, manicures and pedicures. And baking banana bread. And sourdough starter. Or was that just me?

Our Instagram feeds were full of manicure posts in lockdown, which inspired us to order an apocalyptic amount of nail polishes online and attempt at-home nail art with an optimistic amount of confidence.

Did we all become talented nail artists? Not quite. I still leave the fun nail art to the professionals for special occasions.

FYI you can learn how to do at-home nail art like a nail tech in our YouTube video below...

For everyday wear, I want something simple and chic I can do myself on the couch while watching telly with my dog.

Nothing beats a classic, neutral nail polish shade - better known as 'nude'. But what actually is nude? And what if traditional nudes aren't inclusive for everyone?

So, let's forget the term nude and talk about neutral shades instead. Keep scrolling for the neutral nail polish colour I've been getting complimented on for years, plus a list of excellent neutral nail polish shades for your skin tone.

How to Find the Best Neutral Nail Polish Shade for Your Skin Tone.

Disclaimer: This is not a set of 'rules' you have to follow. Think of it more as a guide to help you decide between the hundreds of nail polish shades in the salon (been there).

For example, I personally don’t love very sheer nail polish colours because they don’t really show up on my skin. I also don’t love heavy white shades, but someone else with my skin tone might love them.

So wear whatever bloody nail polish colour makes you happy – always remember, beauty is all about self-expression. OK, back to regular programming…

Neutral nail polish shades are timeless and finish off a look, without overpowering it. From soft lilac and cool pink to pastel grey and muted navy, there's a lot more to choose from under the neutral colour palette umbrella than the typical and limited 'nude' options.

But did you know our skin has different undertones that may be better suited to different shades of neutral? If you want to find the best neutral nail polish options for your skin tone, Melbourne makeup artist Marie Poulas has you covered.

(Side note - Marie is also a Team Leader in Adore Beauty's Customer Experience department and answers questions like this all day every day, so she really knows what she’s talking about. Oh, and here's a picture of her at-home manicure skills #nailgoals.)

Rather than feeling restricted by 'rules' when choosing a nail polish shade for your skin tone, Marie says you can find out your skin undertone to help you narrow down shades you'll love wearing.

"Your skin is either going to be cool, warm or neutral. Cool will appear more blue, warm will appear more yellow. Look to the colour of your veins to help determine your undertone," she told me.

  • Blue veins = Neutral undertone (will enjoy most neutral shades).

  • Green veins = Warm undertone (will enjoy warmer neutral shades).

  • Purple(ish) veins = Cool undertone (will enjoy cooler neutral shades).

She also has another great tip:

"Look at your nail beds (the main middle bit of your nail) with no nail polish on in natural lighting. Those with pinky/red/purply nail beds are more likely to have a cool undertone. Peachier nail beds are often more visible on warmer skin undertones."

My Favourite Neutral Nail Polish.

Marie has been legendary enough to compile a list of the best neutral shades to suit each skin undertone, but first, I thought I'd share two nail polishes I've found work with my skin's olive tone and warm undertone.

1. O.P.I Samoan Sand.

O.P.I Samoan SandO.P.I Samoan Sand

I get so many compliments and questions on this nail polish shade. It's no surprise it's one of the brand's best-selling colours.

OPI Nail Lacquer Samoan Sand is one of the best neutral nail polish colours for olive skin tones. I love it because it's more of a beige-y neutral that I find really suits my skin tone, as opposed to a lot of popular pink ones.

But the best bit? It does not chip. Well, nail polish chipping is as unavoidable as paying your taxes, but I find this polish lasts well for an at-home manicure.

O.P.I Samoan SandO.P.I Samoan Sand

Here is a picture of how Samoan Sand lasts a week and a half after applying, surviving housework and multiple trips to the dog park. Pretty good, eh?

Because Samoan Sand is quite a sheer polish, I like to apply two coats. It has a very subtle pearlescent sheen in the light, and like all O.P.I nail polishes, is free from harmful chemicals formaldehyde, DBP (dibutyl phthalate) and toluene. 

2. Essie Sand Tropez.

Essie polishes are free from harmful ingredients/chemicals toluene and formaldehyde. I love this shade as an autumnal/winter neutral.

I love wearing essie nail colour - sand tropez during the colder months because it has a creamier finish that sits somewhere between grey and sand. The colour also just looks really chic on my hands.

Essie Sand TropezEssie Sand Tropez

Now, here are Marie’s top neutral nail polish shade picks for each skin undertone.

Best Neutral Nail Polish For Cool Undertones:

"O.P.I Infinite Shine Nail Polish in ‘Bare My Soul’ provides a touch of colour for your nail bed, almost like a base for a french manicure. essie Gel Couture Nail Polish in ‘Fairy Tailor’ is more milky and translucent, but buildable. You also can't go wrong with a sheer pale pink like essie Nail Colour in Ballet Slippers or O.P.I - Steel Waters Run Deep for something with more depth."

Best Neutral Nail Polish For Warm Undertones:

"Essie Nail Polish Limo-scene is a milky cream that looks great on warm olive tones. The peachier hue of O.P.I Nail Lacquer Barefoot In Barcelona also brings out a warm glow in olive skin tones, especially in summer. Then, there's Sadaf's favourite OPI Nail Lacquer Samoan Sand. And for those wanting something a little more fun, shades of mauve like essie nail polish in ‘Go Ginza’ help to neutralise yellow tones in the skin."

Best Neutral Nail Polish For Neutral Undertones:

"O.P.I Infinite Nail Polish in ‘It Never Ends’ is a gorgeous soft rosy brown, while essie Nail Polish Gel in Treat Love & Color Lite Weight looks particularly great on medium to deep skin tones. If you're after a chic pale pink that's not 'too pink', O.P.I Infinite Shine Nail Polish in ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow Mountains’ is it. The mocha tones in essie Gel Couture  in ‘Walk The Hemline’ are also gorgeous."

Hopefully this article helps you choose your next manicure shade.

And if you decide to throw it all out and do a bright neon coral, we 1000% support that!!

You can shop more nail polishes here. And for more expert tips on how to look after your nails, listen to our latest episode of the Beauty IQ podcast below.

    Join Now >
    Filled with the usual things we know you'll love, and surprises you might not expect, it's real rewards, really simple.