I used to paint my fingernails every Sunday night. Over the past few years, I’ve become lazy about this piece of my grooming routine. (Though, I ALWAYS paint my toes.) Last week, I painted my fingernails for a special event, and it reminded me how much I love it.
Before we talk about colors, let’s talk about making nail polish last. When I apply polish, I want one week of perfection, and one week with some light wear around the edges from grow out. The product I use to keep my polish going strong is Deborrah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro.
The trick to using the product is to make sure you pull it over the edge of your nail. That will protect you from the small chips caused by typing, living life, etc..
Caramel // Mauve // Mink // Copper // Pearl
For the office, it might be a good idea to keep your polish on the lighter side. If you’re a bit tired of pale pink, these colors are a great alternative.
My favorite polish in the row is the second from the left, Deborah Lippmann’s Modern Love. It’s a gorgeous mauve with just a touch of grey. If you want a straight up grey, Essie’s Master Plan is a great choice.
The last two shades have gorgeous metallic sheen. One coat of the OPI Kyoto Pearl (furthest right) gives you just a hint of shimmer, for a pretty, subtle effect. The second from right is Essie’s Penny Talk, a shimmering copper. Love metallics? My favorite gold is the pale L’Oreal Gold Dust, and my favorite silver is the slightly dark Orly Chrome Foil.
Classic Red // Slate Grey // Sparkly Berry // Teal // Cranberry
A classic, vintage red never goes out of style. Nars Dovima is a great shade. I also like OPI Red.
Jin Soon makes great polishes. They have the most creative, modern colors. So if you’re looking for something unique, hit up the Jin Soon shop at Nordstrom and have a look.
Teal is hot for fall. This ‘Fish Teal’ shade from Sally Hansen gives you a nice medium blue-teal. Want something darker? Try Sonia Kashuk’s Tumultuous Teal.
The last shade in the row is OPI Bogota Blackberry. It looks really dark in this photo, but it’s a nice, medium-deep cranberry color. This is my go-to fall shade.
Dark Berry // Dark Metallic // Deepest Red // Navy // Black
If you like dark polish colors for fall, there are so many amazing ones to choose from. If I go dark, I tend to stick to dark berries and purples. The polish at left, Deborah Lippmann Miss Independent is a bridge between medium and dark. I also love NARS Purple Rain and Tokaido Express (it’s gorgeous with deep purple and flecks of gold).
Dark metallics are so sexy. This Farrago polish from Jin Soon is a brown/purple with a great metallic look. I also love Butter London’s Chimney Sweep, a metallic charcoal.
Navy is one of my favorite polish colors. Jin Soon Azurite has a hint of metallic and a gorgeous deep blue. It looks kind of like the night sky. Another great, metallic-free, shade is OPI Siberian Nights. It’s hard to find but it has a great blue-purple look.
Need black? There is no better black than OPI Onyx. If you want to get something cooler, use a matte topcoat to give yourself a black-on-black French Manicure.
Love these suggestions! One question about metallic polishes. I have Essie Penny Talk, as well as the silver shade from that collection, and I find it impossible to get an even application without seeing the brush strokes due to the metallic finish. Any tips for making it look smooth?
I don’t have that particular shade, but I have another from the Essie metallic collection (Nothing Else Metals). I’ve found that multiple coats take care of the “streaky” issue, sometimes even three coats since it’s a thinner formula. Hope this helps!
Erin – I have found that you have to get a good glob of polish on the brush, touch it down, then smooth it out. Don’t put a half wet brush down on the nail. If you have more polish than you need you can always pick it up off the nail when you stroke it, but it’s hard to add polish without looking streaky.
I am an Essie girl, I have both Wicked and Master Plan and they are both great fall/winter polished. I also think Chinchilly is a great one to have in the greige family. If you want an almost black burgundy, Devil’s Advocate is a good one. I keep Don’t Sweater It in heavy rotation, as well as Merino Cool and Smokin Hot which I am wearing now!
I am totally envious of a week of perfection and a week of light wear. I’ve tried the Deborah Lippman Gel Lab and the base coat + topcoat combo from Nail Foundation by Butter London and can never seem to get more than a day or two of perfection (or even close to it), followed by a three or four days of not-so-noticeable chips before I have to redo them. I think I have thin nails that bend and cause chips faster. Anyone have any luck with any other brands? I love painted nails, but can’t keep up with them!
I use CND base coat and top coat. You really have to experiment to find the right base and top coat for your nails.
Also, switch to a crystal or glass nail file. It will make your nail tips stronger because of how it files.
I bought the below set for myself this fall.
I have tried a lot of different combinations and the bets I’ve found is CND Sticky as my base coat and the Essie Gel Setter top coat. The Essie is a newer product and I’ve found it to work very well over polishes from different brands. I apply it when my nails are still slightly wet and it doesn’t need to be cured by a light. The Seche Vete top coat is also excellent but I kept having to replace it as my brush would get “gunky” and the bottle could be difficult to open. Good luck!
Jenn S. says:
Seche Vite is a fantastic top coat, but it does tend to thicken up pretty fast (say, 2-4 months with regular use?) – which is frustrating.
Seche Vite makes a thinner to fix this – I use it with other polishes as well.
On the top coat issue, so far Essie Gel Setter has the best results for me, but I haven’t tried the DL or CND polishes. I am really hard on my nails (lots of hand washing, barn, etc.), but I try really hard to wear dishwashing gloves any time my hands would get wet other than when I need to wash them for cleanliness purposes. I also wear gloves at the barn at all times. It does help!
Thanks for all of the suggestions, I’ve never heard of CND but will check it out!
Belle–Does the Deborah Lippman set keep your nails healthy/strong enough to continue to change polish without a break?
I discovered the fun of nail polish last winter, but after about 6 weeks of changing polish, my nails were weak and breaking easily, despite being naturally very strong. I used a base coat, but maybe not a good enough brand and everything I read said to stop painting them. I’d love to know your nail health tips in another post if you do anything else to maintain them (cuticle cream? removing polish?)
I just switched to Zoya basecoat and polishes. They’re non (or at least less) toxic. Some of the reviewers mentioned seeing healthier nails, though I haven’t used it long enough to know, but might be worth looking into. I mostly switched, because apparently my basecoat (Orly Bonder) was among the more toxic brands. I figured the layer that was touching to my nail should be at least a bit better for me, and when I went to buy it on the site they had a deal for 50% of a minimum order of six if you sent them your old polishes. I needed a new pale pink and greige anyways, so I ended up getting five new colors and the base coat for $33.
It helps, but it’s still a good idea to have a no polish week here and there.
Sonya Keshwani says:
Love your picks! Definitely feeling the darker shades nowadays. Looks like we’re in fall transition mode 🙂
Great picks. I love Sally Hansen’s Instant Dry formula. Goes on beautifully and you can put on two coats really quickly. Not a lot of colors at the drugstore (more online?) but the classic red is perfect for a red.