Truth be told, there's no such thing as a universal nude.

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When nude makeup became a trend, I found myself searching endlessly for hues that actually looked nude against my skin tone. On the model, the color looked great, but against my skin, well, that was a different story. And since I'm not huge on lipstick, the only true way for me to sport the nude trend is on my nails. Let's be honest, I'll never say no to a fresh manicure. So, I decided to bite the bullet and take matters into my own hands. I was determined to find a nude nail color that paired perfectly with my caramel-toned skin.

neutral nail polish on a woman's hand
The author Andrea Jordan wears her favorite shade, OPI Samoan Sand.
| Credit: Courtesy of Andrea Jordan

You see, most nude shades either go on sheer (which I'm not a fan of) or they are light and look white(ish) or dark and look brown, but not really nude. I wanted a shade that fell somewhere in the middle of the two. If you don't know exactly how to find your nude shade, here's a tip I once learned from a nail pro: Find a color that closely resembles your skin color without looking exactly like it (then your mani will be practically invisible). And remember, undertones matter. If you have cool undertones in your skin, match with a cool polish color and if you have warm undertones, like me, choose warm shades. Since I have caramel skin with yellow undertones, I need a color similar to sand or a pink that has bronze undertones. Personally, I prefer to go a smidge lighter than my actual skin, instead of darker, but truly, the choice is yours. And don't be afraid to play with different finishes. Yes, sparkly and matte polishes can be nude, too.

My favorite part about wearing nude nails is how clean-cut it makes my hands look. Don't get me wrong, I love a pastel purple or deep navy on my tips, but nothing looks as professional and classic as a nude nail. These are seven of my go-to nude nail polishes that I keep buying over and over again.

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bottle of nude OPI nail polish
Credit: Courtesy of Ulta Beauty

1 OPI Samoan Sand

This is by far my favorite nail shade, hands down. There's so much to love about this tan shade, but most of all I love how the polish makes my fingers appear long and lean.

Buy It: OPI Nail Polish Samoan Sand, ($5, Ulta Beauty)

China Glaze nail polish bottle
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

2 China Glaze Note to Selfie

This beige nail color can work as a nude polish a variety of skin tones (light to medium). And the slight tint of pink keeps the otherwise brown shade from looking dull and flat.

Buy It: China Glaze Note to Selfie Nail Lacquer, ($7, Amazon)

essie nude nail polish bottle
Credit: Courtesy of Target

3 essie Reach New Heights

Again, nude nail colors don’t have to be boring. I love this iridescent option because it truly glimmers against my skin. If terracotta was a nail shade, this would definitely be it.

Buy It: essie Reach New Heights Nail Polish, ($9, Target)

Sally Hansen nude nail polish
Credit: Courtesy of Target

4 Sally Hansen Totem-ly Yours

This nail color is a bit deeper than the others, but still works nicely against my skin. If you have fairer skin, it will look more like a chocolate brown nail color.

Buy It: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish Totem-ly Yours, ($7, Target)

Sinful colors nude nail polish bottle
Credit: Courtesy of Target

5 Sinful Colors Coco Bae

Not quite gold, not quite beige, this is my pick for a metallic finish. Plus, the wallet-friendly price tag makes it a win-win.

Buy It: Sinful Colors Professional Nail Polish Coco Bae, ($2, Target)

TenOverTen nail polish bottle
Credit: Courtesy of TenOverTen

6 TenOverTen Houston

If you're looking for a non-toxic formula that still delivers on color, this one is for you. It goes on super smooth and I find that it lasts a few days longer than other polishes.

Buy It: TenOverTen Nail Polish Houston, ($12, TenOverTen)

almond colored nail polish
Credit: Courtesy of Sephora

7 Nails Inc. Sweet Almond Nail Polish

Rose gold looks great against all skin tones, but against brown skin, it doubles as a nude polish. This color is formulated with matcha and sweet almond oil, so you know it's good for your nails.

Buy It: Nails Inc. Sweet Almond Nail Polish Powered by Matcha, ($15, Sephora)


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