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 Saphire (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. Next year, however, promises to be a bit more experimental—after all, we are entering a new decade—so the time is right for a major shakeup, even if it’s only temporary. Keep scrolling for 19 of the most popular nail colors in 2019, plus 10 polishes that are predicted to be 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.
Tops in 2019
1. Neutrals & Sheers
“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.
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.
Neon pink just screams summer.
We wouldn't be surprised if this "glowstick" actually glows in the dark.
So, so bright! Perfect for festival season.
3. Tinted Grays
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.
This light purple-gray was the most popular shade at Varnish Lane in 2019.
"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 earlier in 2019.
As New Yorkers, we can't help but love this bright red shade named "Bodega." Dunne, in D.C., concurs.
This non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free brand makes a great orangey-hot red and is a personal favorite of Dunne's.
Hanna's celebrity clients ask for this timeless classic (and quintessentially perfect red) again and again.
5. Moody '90s
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.
"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.
7. Classic French
Hanna says this shade is the perfect base for a French and also her go-to shade for negative space nail art.
Trending in 2020
1. Dark Greens
Varnish Lane clients already love this deep-turquoise green polish.
2. Classic Blues
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.
This baby pink is simultaneously so ’90s and so timeless.
We're definitely saving this super-saturated pink polish for our first beach vacation in 2020.