How Do I Choose the Best Winter Nail Polish Colors?

Nicole Etolen

While the summer months usually call for lighter fruit or beach inspired tones, winter is an ideal season for darker or more metallic colors. Choosing the best winter nail polish colors depends on several different factors, including personal preference, your skin tone, and accompanying wardrobe. It also depends on whether you choose to follow the season’s trend or set your own style.

Skin tone may dictate the best winter nail polish colors.
Skin tone may dictate the best winter nail polish colors.

If you like to stay on top of the trends, keep in mind that they tend to change every year, so last year’s popular winter nail polish colors may not be this year’s “must-wear” colors. There are many ways to stay up to date, including reading magazines, watching celebrity news shows to see what the most popular stars are wearing, and asking at your local nail salon. If trends are not important to you, your options are much more open.

Fashion magazines are a great way to keep up with nail polish trends.
Fashion magazines are a great way to keep up with nail polish trends.

Reds are classic winter colors that rarely go out of style. There are numerous different shades of red, and finding the right shade depends mostly on your skin tone. If you are fair-skinned, stick with the shades that have blue undertones, like the color of a very ripe strawberry. Shades of red with orange undertones, such as a rust color, look best on medium to dark skin.

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Wearing red nail polish is very popular during the winter months.
Wearing red nail polish is very popular during the winter months.

While very dark, almost black colors may look out of place in the blazing summer sun, they are much more acceptable as winter nail polish colors. Just about any skin tone can wear dark colors, but keep in mind that they tend to make pale skin look even paler. These shades are best for wearing during a night out or at a party, as they tend to be overpowering in a professional environment. Remember to keep the nail polish jar with you for touch-ups, because even the slightest chip in dark colors can be very obvious.

Metallic colors, such as silver and gold, are popular winter nail polish colors for holiday parties, especially when paired with a black dress. When choosing a metallic color, keep in mind which accessories you will be wearing so they don’t clash. For example, if you are wearing all gold-colored jewelry, gold nail polish may be the best way to go. If you are mixing silver and gold, however, either color is usually fine for your nails. Since changing the color of your nails is as easy as swiping a cotton ball soaked in polish remover across them, experiment with numerous different shades of winter nail polish colors until you find the one that best fits your personality and preference.

A bottle of nail polish remover.
A bottle of nail polish remover.

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Discussion Comments


I've found that matching my lips and nails is better for me, and rarely goes out of style -- red is always fashionable. There's nothing better than a good red lipstick, and if the nails match, so much the better!

I always use a base coat to keep the polish from discoloring my nails, and I'd recommend that for anyone who uses darker polish. I also use at least two coats of top coat to protect the polish and keep it from chipping. That works for me and I'm also on the keyboard a lot.

When I get a manicure in the winter, I always make sure my manicurist does a base coat and top coat. It does help the manicure last longer.


Most women wear darker lipstick colors during the winter anyway, so matching your nails and lips is one idea. I've known women who matched their nails to a color in the dress or top they were wearing.

I really don't do much nail polish -- being on a keyboard all day destroys it -- so I don't wear anything except clear polish, year-round. It's easy to touch up and keeps my nails looking neat. Clear nail polish is also good for a number of other uses, so keeping a bottle on my desk is a routine for me.

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