There's no denying that nail art is fun. Cute manis with sprinklings of glitter and hand-drawn flowers are as pretty as a picture, and negative-space nails earn instant cool-girl points, but there's something effortlessly stylish about basic nail colours. Reds, nudes and navy blues might seem like obvious choices when you're faced with a rainbow of options at the nail salon, but let's face it: They're classic shades for a reason. (And that's because they look good on everyone and are always on trend.) We caught up with some nail experts to find out what specific shades of nail polish remain popular year after year, and why certain colours manage to stand the test of time.
If I was forced to commit to one nail polish shade for the rest of my life (which would be very difficult, as I'm something of a nail polish philanderer), I'd probably opt for red. And I'm not alone: "Red nails are one of those all-time classic looks," Townhouse founder Juanita Huber-Millet told me. "Like a little black dress or a white shirt with jeans, it's a look that will never go out of fashion and is always a popular request at Townhouse." Red doesn't have to mean London bus red either (even though that's my personal favourite). Maroons and clarets look beautiful in winter, whilst fiery oranges and rosy red work well in the summer.
Coral-red nails pair perfectly with a red lip.
Nude nails are different for everyone. For some, it might be a mushroom-taupe shade, and for others, it might be an opalescent pink. "Pale, natural colours are always a popular choice," Huber-Millet said. "They subtly bring out the natural nail colour, making the nail look healthy and bright." Similarly, Nails Inc. told me it's the nude shades that are always highly requested at nail bars, with Porchester Square ranking as one of the brand's most popular nail polish colours.
Beyoncé's pink-toned nude nails let the rest of her outfit do the talking.
VB keeps things classic with a barely there nude mani.
Sheeny nude nails look chic on Alexa Chung.
Black & navy
Let me tell you something: Sixteen-year-old me loved black nail polish. I couldn't tell you how many bottles of Rimmel London's Black Cab I went through. So I'm delighted that black remains top of the basic nail colour leaderboard for an instantly chic mani option. "Dark navy and black have been very popular over the winter, projecting a cool New York vibe," Huber-Millet told us.
It's true that deep nails seem to be popular with our American friends (Kerry Washington and Meghan Markle have both stepped out in sultry shades). If black feels a little too harsh for you, don't worry. Most brands offer deep navy blues, forest greens and wine reds so you can get a similar effect without feeling too goth.
Kerry Washington steps out in a sparkling all-black ensemble and matching mani.
To me, pink is red's playful sister. It's always going to be around, but I tend to opt for it when I want a colour that feels a bit more fun. Celebs like Rosie HW are regularly seen with petal-pink nails on the red carpet, and I think it makes a great alternative to a nude nail if you're not sure that's your thing. Pink clearly remains a basic nail colour that looks good on everyone. The team at Barry M informed me that Acai Smoothie (an orchid-tinged pink) and Pink Luxe (a metallic petal pink) are two of the brand's most popular polish shades.
Jorja Smith goes for bubblegum-pink nails.
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley keeps things classic in petal pink.