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5 Ways to Make Neutral Nails Stand Out

posted: 07/08/16
by: Blythe Copeland

Your bright spring manicure -- full of florals and contrasting colors-- is off duty for the summer: It's time to switch up your nail routine with subtle neutrals. But neutral doesn't have to be boring; here are five ways to make sure your low-key look is anything but dull.

1. Choose the right shade.

A photo posted by Blu Hair & Color (@bluguate) on

Not all neutrals are created equal: Differences in skin colors, the undertones of your nailbed, and even the amount of veins you have can all change the way a shade works for you (or doesn't). Allure breaks down the best choices for any skin tone so you can find one that's a perfect complement, whether you're looking for a taupe, beige, blush, cocoa, or pink.

2. Add a little bling.
Give subtle nails some extra sparkle by adding just a few faux gems or swipes of glitter polish. A small cluster of rhinestones or a single band of beading at the base of your ring finger nailbed, by your cuticle, is the little bit of glam you need to draw attention to your perfectly shaped and painted nails. It's especially effective if you're showing off a brand new engagement ring (or choosing a manicure style for your wedding day. To make an even bigger statement, cover your entire nail in eye-catching gems set off by a pale pink on your other fingers.

3. Make one nail stand out.

If gems aren't your style, then choose another way of making a single nail stand out: Try an intricate white floral design on a blush pink nail, a white polished ring finger to contrast with taupe on the rest of your hand, or an intricate criss-cross design highlighted with a sparkly gold polish.

4. Use more than one shade.
The ombre look -- where colors fade from more saturated to less, or where one shade fades into another -- has been trendy in everything from hair color to wall paint. It's also a simple way to give a neutral manicure some extra oomph: Create an ombre French manicure https://www.instagram.com/p/BGuRJ6dG5FI/ by using a skin-toned neutral at the bottom of your nail and a sponge to fade it into a white tip; or choose five different colors -- the one that most closely matches your skin should be in the middle, and then choose two darker shades and two lighter -- for an ombre effect across your entire hand.

5. Add a subtle geometric pattern.

A photo posted by Amy C (@amytheesthetician) on


Easy, low-key nails don't call for elaborate decorations, but a simple, high-contrast pattern can be all the interest you need. Put a line of tiny dots in crisp white polish down the center of a nude nail (and use the opposite color scheme on a single nail for extra emphasis), or accent the tip of a neutral nail with two thin bands of sparkling gold. Give one nail the half-and-half treatment with a contrasting shade, or draw a single chevron on a solid color nail. Just like the rest of your summer makeup routine, it's simple, easy, and cool.