March 5, 2013 at 11:36 AM ET
After so many seasons of vampy hues and glitter, the best nail polish color for fall is barely a color at all. It's nude.
We know what you're thinking — "ugh, so boring." But trust us, it's so much more appealing than it sounds. We're not talking about baby pinks or sheer beige tones. The nude nail polish colors that we're most excited about this season are opaque enough to make a statement, and they have trendy undertones that range from mauve to gold.
Don't get suckered into the matte trend. "With a neutral color, you want a high shine finish," says nail guru Jin Soon Choi. "It makes the nail stand out against your skin rather than blend in and look dead."
So we tallied up our favorite nude nail polishes and split them up to work on fair, medium, olive and dark skin tones. They're all super-shiny, saturated colors — perfect for when you want to take a break from that ombré, over the moon manicure that's become your go-to.
Skin tone: Fair
If you have fair skin, anything too beige or too dark will make your hands look pale and sickly. "Choose a clean, creamy color to counter any redness in your skin," says Shel Pink, founder of SpaRitual. Stick with colors with pink or purple undertones — these will actually make your hands look less rosy.
Dolce & Gabbana The Nail Lacquer in Petal, $20, has a hint of mauve that makes it really flattering on fair skin. The color is subtly lavender in a really pretty way.
Essie Nail Polish in Don't Sweater It, $8, is described as a "warm, cozy, creamy mauve," which is dead on. There's something truly fall-appropriate about this shade. On fair skin, it looks like the perfect combo of beige and purple.
JINsoon Nail Polish in Nostalgia, $18, is a classic pinky-beige. The best thing about this polish is the glassy shine and chip-resistant formula. On fair skin, it looks feminine and stylish without trying too hard. And actually, the shade is super-flattering on all skin tones.
Skin tone: Medium
If your skin tone is medium, Pink says to look for polish colors with a warm base that are similar to your skin tone. You can pull off metallics, but you should avoid anything that's too silvery because the coolness will clash with your natural warm undertones.
We're obsessed with Deborah Lippmann Nail Lacquer in Modern Love, $16, for medium skin tones because the color is rich and creamy with just a hint of red to brighten things up.
If you find yourself gravitating toward shades of gray (insert raunchy literary comment here), then OPI Nail Color in Berlin There Done That, $8.50, will be your go-to color this season. It's dark enough to work on medium skin tones, and it has a subtle, almost metallic gray undertone.
LCN Nail Polish in Paris Chic, $7.99, is described as "nougat beige," which is spot on. It's part of LCN's Urban Expression Collection, which was inspired by trends from fashion capitals around the world (other cities include London, New York and Tokyo). If you've got medium skin and you're looking for a timeless nude, this one's for you.
Skin tone: Olive
If you have olive skin, experts suggest you combine the nude trend with another popular nail color craze right now: metallics. Instead of basic beige, look for one with gold undertones, which will make your skin look brighter and livelier. Just make sure to avoid anything too pale, which will make your skin look washed out.
Duality Cosmetics Nail Pak in Meryl, $15, is the most subtle of the shades we chose for olive skin. It's a basic taupe with the slightest bit of metallic sheen. Bonus: This polish comes with a mini file and remover pads tucked into the bottom of the bottle.
Orly Nail Color in Flare, $8.50, is too stunning not to include, even though we'll admit, it's more gold than nude. But it does have nude undertones, and it costs less than your average lunch.
If you want to go nude but just can't imagine breaking up with your beloved sparkly mani try Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Nouveau Riche, $20. It's a nude-gold with serious shimmer. Estee Lauder Creative Makeup Director Tom Pecheux designed this shade to look like the glimmering lights on the Eiffel Tower at night — and that vibe comes across in full force.
Skin tone: Dark
Women with darker skin tones should opt for coffee-colored nudes with yellow or orange undertones, says Pink. The deeper your skin, the darker the nude should be — and they range from latte-like hues to chocolaty-brown shades.
Pink recommends SpaRitual Nail Lacquer in Back to Your Roots, $10, for darker skin tones. It has yellow undertones that will give your skin a warm glow.
Zoya Nail Polish in Dea, $8, is a rich brown with orange undertones. The color is part of Zoya's Designer Collection, and it was created specifically for Cynthia Rowley's Fall 2012 runway show. (Like we told you, nudes are in this season.)
Butter London Aston Nail Lacquer, $14, is a toffee-colored polish with neutral undertones — give this one a try if yellow-ish shades make you cringe. Plus, there's something so glamorous about Butter London's bottles. Even if you're just spending 10 minutes on a DIY mani, this will make you feel like a million bucks.
Want more polish options? Click here to see the best nail lacquer names. Ever.