We’re Experimenting With All 19 of These Popular Nail Colors

Let’s be honest: The only stressful part about getting a manicure is choosing what color to commit to for the next seven to 14 days. As far as cosmetic appointments go, that’s pretty painless! But then you turn and face the color wall. Now more than ever there are just so many beautiful, slightly different, and cleverly named colors to choose from. I’m still trying to determine if there’s really a substantial difference between OPI’s Russian Navy and Essie’s Sapphire (two of my signature winter shades), but that’s not something I ever lose sleep over. It’s easy to change things up next time. 

Unless I’m planning for a special occasion, my typical visit to the nail salon is as impromptu as my color selection. While I like to think polishes appeal to me at random, the truth is I’m not playing the nail salon version of color wheel roulette. According to our panel of industry experts, after polishing thousands of nails and handling hundreds of bottles of lacquer, each manicurist and salon owner can confidently declare which colors are more popular than others. 

In fact, all three of our pros agree that 2019 was a big year for the classics: reds, neutrals, and classic French manicure colors were the most popular, followed by bursts of neon in the summer and moody ‘90s hues as the weather got cooler. This year, however, has been a bit more experimental. Keep scrolling for 19 of the most popular nail colors in 2019, plus 10 polishes that are big this year according to celebrity crystal nail artist Mazz Hanna, Varnish Lane co-founder and CEO Lauren Dunne, and Sarah Gibson Tuttle, founder and CEO of Olive & June.

“It’s always neutrals season!” exclaims Tuttle. “Neutrals work for every occasion and are really forgiving as tiny imperfections are less noticeable,” she explains. Plus, she expects the shade to continue to be big this year and has plans to release some new Olive & June polishes in neutral shades soon.

You really can’t go wrong with this sheer nude named after Eva Chen, a former beauty editor. 

This specialized Orly formula is also a great option if you’re in the process of regrowing your nails after long-term use of gels or acrylics. 

We appreciate how Olive & June’s neutral polishes are formulated to be warm or cool so you can choose what works best with your skin tone.

While the neon trend in the fashion world didn’t last for more than a few seasons, these bright colors were still big with the beauty crowd, especially for summer manicures. We love the idea of using a few loud colors in one mani to make a statement, as pictured above. 

This neon pink looks so fresh.

We wouldn’t be surprised if this “glowstick” actually glows in the dark. 

So, so bright!

Two of the top three most-requested nail polishes at Varnish Lane in 2019 were shades of gray. “It will always be on the most popular list and is a shade that looks great on all skin tones,” says Dunne.

Varnish Lane clients love this opaque taupe gray with a hint of purple. “It looks great on all skin tones and translates well in every season and types of weather,” says Dunne.

This gray-blue hue was one of Hanna’s most used polishes of 2019 and has quickly become one of her all-time favorites.

One of Deborah Lippmann’s most popular colors.

“A classic cherry red looks good on all nail shapes and lengths, whether it’s a long or an equally chic shorter nail,” says Tuttle. We agree—it’s a totally timeless look. 

This has been Olive & June’s top-selling polish since it was released in 2019. 

As New Yorkers, we can’t help but love this bright red shade named “Bodega.” Dunne, in D.C., concurs. 

A quintessential red by Essie that goes with everything in your wardrobe.

Hanna’s celebrity clients ask for this timeless classic (and quintessentially perfect red) again and again. 

“We’re still not done with the ’90s nail moment,” observes Tuttle. “We’ll continue to see darker polish colors reign supreme—black, or any variation on the hue like a chocolate brown, deep green, vampy plum, or midnight blue.” 

Even though this polish is named after a classic ’70s album, this shade is so ’90s. 

A favorite of punks, emo kids, and fashion girls everywhere. 

Remember when all the ’90s supermodels had brown manicures? Iconic. 

“Metallics are incredibly versatile and can work all year round,” says Tuttle. She recommends wearing your favorite metallic shade as a solid color or adding it as a nail art accent for a subtle sparkle.

“Not quite silver, not quite gold, this is the perfect metallic that looks great on every nail shape, length, and skin tone,” says Hanna.

Sport this bright silver shade and you’ll feel indestructible. 

According to Hanna, the classic French manicure made a major comeback in 2019. Think of it as leveling up your nude mani with a touch of nail art. 

Hanna says this shade is the perfect base for a French and also her go-to shade for negative space nail art.

Dunne says dark greens have been very popular in 2020. “It’s an extremely universally flattering shade and will get a ton of compliments,” she believes. 

Varnish Lane clients already love this deep-turquoise green polish.

Emerald is on-trend for engagement rings too—just saying.

All of our experts agree that classic blues have been big in 2020. Whether this has anything to do with the shade being named the Pantone color of the year, or just because it’s a fun color to sport on your nails, they’re all going blue. 

Dunne loves this dark blue shade from Zoya. It’s a little deeper—almost navy—but still classic.

Dunne and her clients are obsessed with this nail polish. “It has the perfect hint of gray added to soften the blue,” she says. 

This deep, reflective dark blue is right up there with our favorite OPI and Essie classics. 

On the flip-side of the ’90s trend, Hanna predicts we’ll pivot from dark moody colors to bright, poppy pastels. We’re definitely trying this multicolored mani next. 

How pretty is this pearly Chanel pink?

We’re all about those baby blues. 

Don’t sleep on pastel purples! 

This baby pink is simultaneously so ’90s and so timeless. 

We’re using this super-saturated pink polish for our next manicures. 

Up next: These 19 Nail Trends Are the Biggest of 2020

This article was published at an earlier date and has been recently updated.