The New Neutral Nails: A Manicure For All Seasons
5 minutes read
A good neutral manicure offers many perks: it will never clash with your outfit; it’s a guaranteed people-pleaser and it has that my-nails-but-better quality that we all love. Neutral nails can be nude, clear, tinted or even feature hints of nail art. The only criteria is that they exist without trying to steal the spotlight – perfect for anyone who loves to keep things low-key or who gets bored of statement manicures within 24 hours of getting one.
Choosing a neutral nail colour
To the uninitiated, it may seem like picking a neutral nail colour should be easy. It turns out that’s seldom the case. The options are endless, and the ones that look promising in the bottle often translate differently on the nails.
But we’re here to help. Below is our edit of tried and tested nail lacquers that won’t fail you. Take your pick.
The nail care/nail colour hybrid
You know how good skincare can improve your skin and make you glow? That’s the idea with Essie’s Hard To Resist Nail Strengtheners. They form a protective barrier on the nail, making them feel stronger and look smoother. But they also offer a subtle tint, with two shades to choose from.
The surfer-girl nail
There are many natural nail types, but one of the all-time classics is the surfer-girl nail. They look scrupulously clean, healthy and have a milky-matte whiteness. There are a few steps to attaining this. First, nails must be prepped: try Tweezerman Smooth Buff Shine Block, so bare nails are buffed to perfection and free of ridges.
Next, scrub up well with a decent nail brush; this one from Kent Brushes, with soft and more rigid natural bristles, cleans under the nail and reveals fresh skin.
A few coats of Kure Bazaar ‘Clean‘ will give you that smooth white, matte pebble finish. Finally? Paint a mattifying topcoat to add longevity to seal the base. We guarantee nails will look like you’ve spent months on a beach – simply clean, healthy and uber natural.
The nude for every skin tone
Always struggled to find the right nude nail for you? You’ll likely find one in the vegan nail brand Peacći’s Nu Nudes range. Instead of a generic beige, the line offers 12 different nude shades to suit a variety of skin tones.
“For decades, the beauty industry has used the term ‘nude’ to essentially describe a single colour rather than it being based on skin tone,” says Daisy Kalnina, Founder and CEO of Peacći. “That’s why I created the Nu Nudes collection because, as we all know, one nude doesn’t fit all.”
The tinted moisturiser for nails
“Sometimes, you just want a sheer, even layer of coverage that looks like a polished version of your bare nails,” says Beauty Writer Nishita Fiji. “On those days, the Orly Breathable Treatment & Colour in the shade Nourishing Nude fits the bill perfectly. The colour isn’t streaky, and because it’s sheer, it suits a broad range of skin tones.”
The offbeat neutral
Jewellery designer Jess Hannah’s edited range of nail polishes come in a small selection of colours. And while they are not all nudes, the muted shades of ecru, sage, and taupe fall in the neutral category. We especially love this little set that includes five miniature polishes in flattering shades of brown.
Bonus tip: A good hand care routine is key to making natural looks next level.
We like to give the backs of our hands a gentle scrub with a body exfoliator and then follow up with juicy, nourishing hand cream. Of course, you can’t go wrong with the Hand and Nail Treatment Cream – the shea butter-rich formula cares for the cuticles and nails and also leaves your hands velvety soft.
Neutral nail art designs to copy
Want to add a little art to a simple, clean manicure? Here are some ideas we love.
A pop of red
If you dream of scarlet nails but neutrals are your comfort zone, this is the perfect in-between. Ideal for anyone who’s partial to a French manicure but wants to mix things up. You could switch the red for pink, green, or any other shade you fancy. Or you could try…
Multi-coloured French tips
This would look great on both short and medium-length nails, a mildly more adventurous option. With the nude (or clear) base and colourful tips, you get to stay in the neutral territory while also wearing five different shades you’ve always wanted to try. Win-win.
Hints of sparkle
Disco nails may not be for you, but a little sprinkle of glitter never hurt anyone. To keep your manicure looking polished and grown-up (although we have nothing against going all-out with glitter if that’s what you like), focus the sparkly accents on just one or two nails.
Rose quartz nails
You could also play with texture. If light rosy-pink nails are what you normally like, try adding a fun marbleised texture. This rose quartz manicure may not be the easiest to replicate at home, but perhaps it’s one to show your manicurist?