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Confessions of a Polish Addict: The Six Essential Nail Colors

If you’re like me, your nail polish collection seems to grow exponentially without you even realizing it. After all, it’s difficult to embark on a routine trip to the store without tossing a bottle or two of colorful lacquer into the cart. But when it comes time for a manicure and you find yourself sifting through dozens of bottles, or you experience the excruciating indecision that comes with choosing a color, you may have reached “overload” status. Curating the perfect nail polish collection is an art form, and I’m here to help you out (even though my own hoard of polish is a bit out of hand – hey, we’ll learn together, right?).

To get you started, I’ll share my carefully devised theory – you really only need six nail polishes. That’s right – six! The right nail polish collection should be like a group of friends – each member has its own characteristics that contribute to the harmony of the group. You want the group to be small, and each member is bursting with their own personality and traits.

Whether you’re looking to streamline your existing collection, or you’re building one from scratch, use this template. Pick one type of polish from each group, and soon your polish bag will be simple, organized and stocked with everything you need to help you find a nail color for every occasion or mood.

The classic:


Whether or not you would classify your style as “girly,” every polish owner needs to have at least one of these traditional nail hues. Cotton candy pink and cherry red are the top contenders, but a tangerine orange or summery coral are fun, modern twists on the classics. The bottom line: you can’t go wrong with one of these stunners.

The neutral:


Sometimes you don’t always want your nails to dazzle; you just want them to look chic. That’s what neutrals are for. Go with crisp white for something that’s still eye-catching, soft charcoal gray to add a bit of edge, or a nude taupe if you’re keeping it classy. Neutrals stand out in a sea of crazy nail art, so these simple colors definitely make a statement. Bonus: The muted colors elongate your fingers and make chips less noticeable.

The dark:


Black polish lost its “goth” label years ago and is now a nail color staple. Like the neutrals, black makes a statement in the most simple way possible, and it is the go-to color if you want to feel a little extra cool or high-fashion. Opt for a rich navy or a deep mahogany for a unique way to go dark.

The pastel:


After a week or two of wearing dark polish, it’s refreshing to go for a color that’s more reminiscent of a ballerina than a biker. Pale pink is subtle and a girly-girl classic, while lavender is a perfect hue for spring. For a more trendy look, polish on some crisp mint green, which is still soft but in an edgier way.

The funky:


So your nail polish bag is filled with colors that are trendy, classic, simple… what about if you just want your nails to be bold and fun? That’s where the unconventional nail hues come in – brights and neons in all colors of the Crayola rainbow. Lime green and royal blue are edgy by nature, while banana yellow has a slightly higher “adorable” factor.

The glamorous:


You may have all the necessary colors, but a true nail connoisseur knows it’s all about playing with texture too. That’s why it is absolutely essential to have a glitter polish as part of your stash. Sparkling silver is a classic that looks good over nearly every hue, while a mashup of pink and purple glitters is the ultimate Barbie look. For a look that is both glam and statement-making, opt for a unique kind of sparkle, like a coppery bronze.

It’s important to never feel limited. The world of nails is all about exploration and experimentation, after all. However, having a general guideline about which kinds of colors to go for is a key method of simplifying your collection, and we could all use a little simplification in our beauty repertoire.

Photos and Article by Libby Allnatt


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