Nail Colors For Pale Skin Tones: Find Your Next Color!

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It’s crazy to think that nail polish originated in China as early as 3000 BC. It was made with ingredients like beeswax, egg whites, gelatin, and vegetable dyes. It was primarily worn by the rulers and those in high society as a symbol of their wealth and power.

But now there are so, so many color options to choose from. It’s dizzying. And it can be challenging to figure out what colors go best with your skin.

In this article, we are going to look at the best nail colors for pale skin. We’ll look at how to determine your skin tone to choose which of those colors are best for your skin, as well as certain types of nail polish you may want to avoid and why.

At the end of the day, you can wear any color you want – there are no rules. That said, choosing the right color for your skin tone can mean the difference between making your fingers look fabulous, long, and elegant, and making your skin look washed out, your fingers short and stubby, or your hands look older.

This is especially true for those with pale skin.


Nail Colors for Pale Skin

Generally, nudes, pastels, and light and airy colors work amazingly well on pale skin.

Generally, nudes, pastels, and light and airy colors work amazingly well on pale skin.

An opaque sandy beige or light pink will elongate the fingers and nails. Any nude color with a tint of pink or peach for those with pale skin will make the nail bed look healthier.

Photo by Chelson Tamares on Unsplash

When we’re talking about nudes and pastels, white can work too. But try to avoid a bright, flat white. It kind of tends to look like you had a mishap with your liquid paper/white out.

Stick with something more translucent and milky. 

You can of course also opt for a French manicure , which looks good on just about everyone, regardless of their skin tone or coloring.

Now you don’t have to stick to light colors, of course!

Some darker colors can look great on pale skin as well. But darker colors for pale skin can be a bit tricky. We will get into that a bit further down.

Slate grey  and navy  add a look of sophistication and professionalism to pale skin and are perfect for a business or more formal setting.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Color 553 Grease Lightening - 0.31 fl oz 553 Grease Lightening
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OPI Nail Lacquer, Yoga-ta Get This Blue!, Blue Nail Polish, 0.5 fl oz
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Any deep, rich colors, like burgandy , dark plum  or even deep emerald green  can also look great on pale skin.

ZOYA Nail Polish, Anja, 0.5 fl. oz.
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As to which specific colors in all of these groups will look best on your skin will be determined by your skin undertones.

How to Check Your Skin Undertones

There are three skin undertones: cool, warm, and neutral. 

Cool skin undertones have hints of blue, green, and violet. Warm undertones look red, orange, golden, or yellow. Those with neutral undertones are part of the lucky bunch with a mix of both warm and cool undertones.

Cool skin undertones have hints of blue, green, and violet. Warm undertones look red, orange, golden, or yellow. Those with neutral undertones are part of the lucky bunch with a mix of both warm and cool undertones.

Figuring out your skin undertone is important because this is the easiest way to find what colors are going to compliment your skin the best. This is important to understand for nail polish, self-tanner, jewelry, hair tone color, makeup colors, clothing, etc.

To determine your skin’s undertone, look at the veins on the underside of your wrist in natural light.

  • If your veins look blue, you have cool-toned skin with pink undertones.
  • You have warm-toned skin with yellow undertones if your veins appear green.
  • If your veins appear both blue and green, you are one of the lucky people that have neutral undertones, which means that almost every color of polish for pale skin will look great on you.

If it’s hard to tell what color your veins are, or if you can’t see them at all, hold up silver and gold jewelry next to your face.

Regardless of your personal preference, which one looks better next to your skin?

Those with warm-toned skin will look better with gold jewelry. Those with cool-toned skin will look better with silver jewelry.

Here’s a full guide to finding your skin’s undertone.

Best Colors For Pale Skin with Cool Undertones

Cooler colors with blue or pink undertones will best compliment your skin.

Best Colors For Pale Skin with Warm Undertones

If you have warm undertones, the colors that will suit you best will have more peach and lean towards warmer colors with a red or yellow base.

Best Colors For Pale Skin with Neutral Undertones

Neutral undertones work with pretty much all nail colors that work with pale skin tones. Consider yourself lucky if you fall into this category!

As a person with pale skin, you’ll be elated to know that Periwinkle has been deemed THE color of the year.

And as luck would have it, this color should look fantastic on you as nail polish.

It’s a little bit blue and a little bit violet, and regardless of whether you have warm or cool skin undertones, there is a shade of periwinkle out there that will look amazing on you! 

Photo by Anna Kumpan on Unsplash

How Different Colors, Shades, and Finishes Can Affect Your Pale Skin in a Negative Way

There are a few things you should consider when looking for the right colors if you have pale skin. Even if you match the color to your skin undertone you can still end up with a color that ends up being unflattering to your nails and hands. There can be more at play than just ‘it doesn’t match’.

So we’ve compiled a list of considerations for different colors, shades, and finishes.

Neon & Shimmer

Those with pale skin should avoid vivid neon and shimmery polishes. They reflect light and can make your skin appear drab and aged.


While yellow can be stunning for those with medium and dark skin tones, on paler skin, not only does it tend to drain away the color from your hands, you might just end up looking like you have nail fungus (depending on the shade of yellow and your skin undertones).

Dark Colors

Very dark colors on pale skin can be a double-edged sword. They can look dramatic, but you need to be careful. The contrast between any very dark color of polish and your pale skin will make your hands seem even paler. You run the risk of looking more goth than classy (unless you’re going for a goth look!)

Darker colors will make short nails look even shorter, and give the illusion that the fingers themselves are shorter.

Dark-colored polish will also attract and focus attention on the hands and highlight any lines and veins.

Dark colors for those with pale skin are a matter of trial and error. They will work for some, but not others. You won’t know if they’re right for you until you try them. But keep the acetone nail polish remover handy.


Red is also a tricky color. It can look great, but it can also veer toward the gaudy and over-the-top on paler skin. If you are going to attempt red, make sure you are matching the red to your skin undertones.

For warm undertones, you want to look for a warm, true red that leans more toward orange than pink, like Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy Longwear Nail Polish  in Long Shot.

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If you have cool undertones, on the other hand, go for a cool red with a blue base, like OPI Nail Lacquer  in Red Hot Rio.

OPI Nail Lacquer, Red Hot Rio, Red Nail Polish, 0.5 fl oz
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Although nudes are a pretty safe bet when it comes to pale skin, stick with nude colors that are either a shade or two lighter or darker than your actual skin. You don’t want to look like you have weird, creepy mannequin hands that have no color difference at all between the nail and the skin!

You don’t want to look like you have weird, creepy mannequin hands that have no color difference at all between the nail and the skin!

Take Away

There’s no foolproof formula for finding that perfect color for your skin. But you can get a headstart by trying the colors that best suit your skin undertone as a guide. The colors above and all our advice is just that – a guide to point you in the right direction.

And be sure to take a look at our guide for clothing colors for pale skin!

It doesn’t mean you can’t wear any other colors!

If you find a color you love and that looks good on you, regardless of whether it goes against everything you’ve read, or what you’ve heard. Confidence is everything.

If it makes you feel good then go for it!

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).