How To Make Your Hands Look Straight-Up Better With Nothing But Nail Polish

A guide for every skin tone.


If you've ever taken a picture of your hands, like after a manicure, or maybe while holding a big ol' doughnut at brunch (hey, what do you take pictures of?), then you know how, uh, kinda ugly hands can be in the wrong lighting, or with the wrong polish, or with a bad doughnut. Just kidding—THERE ARE NO BAD DOUGHNUTS.

Which is why we're really into the idea of nail-polish contouring, which is basically just picking specific colours for your skin tone to give your hands a bit more oomph. No, we're not saying that this is a required step for any human being, because we realize that hands are just hands, but if you're planning to wear nail polish anyways, why not make it purposeful?

And to help you decode your digits, we got the very brilliant manicurist Jin Soon Choi to break down the best colours from her polish collection for your exact skin tone and dream hand look. Because that's a thing, right? Right.

'Choose colours that are not too immature or too neon-like,' says Choi. 'They should be more elegant and have sharp colour pigmentation to make your skin look vivid.'

Fair Skin: Try a soft, blush-y pink, like Dolly Pink BUY IT

Medium Skin: Look for a bright coral orange, like Pop Orange BUY IT

Olive Skin: Pick a rich, hot-as-hell orange, like Crush BUY IT

Dark Skin: Try a bright mint blue, like Poppy Blue BUY IT

'Try to use colours that make your hands look a bit more bronzed, like orange, yellow, green, or opaque pastel colours,' she says.

Fair Skin: Pick a deep, ocean-y green, like Tila BUY IT

Medium Skin: Go for a coral-y pink, like Coral Peony BUY IT

Olive Skin: Try another bright, rich orange, like Hope BUY IT

Dark Skin: Look for a creamy lemon yellow, like Charme BUY IT

'Opaque whites and pastel shades give your nail beds a bigger appearance in contrast to your skin,' says Choi.

Fair Skin: Go for a retro, blush-y pink, like Dolly Pink BUY IT

Medium Skin: Look for an off-white shade with just a hint of blue, like Kookie White BUY IT

Olive Skin: Try an opaque beige, like Tulle BUY IT

Dark Skin: Look for a super-powder-y pink, like Doux BUY IT

'Darker shades tend to make nail beds look smaller, so make sure that you choose deep colors that naturally complement your skin tone, especially in the winter,' she says.

Fair Skin: Pick a deep, electric blue, like Blue Iris BUY IT

Medium Skin: Try a dark blue-grey, like Debonair BUY IT

Olive Skin: Go for a red-hued black, like Risque BUY IT

Dark Skin: Pick a rich, ocean-y green, like Tila. BUY IT


'Use more natural, subtle colours that don't draw attention to your nails, so your nails can become an extension of your fingers,' explains Choi.

Fair Skin: Look for a super-sheer pink, like Muse BUY IT

Medium Skin: Go for a subtle, sheer tan, like Tulle BUY IT

Olive Skin: Try a pink-tinged beige, like Nostalgia BUY IT

Dark Skin: Pick a milky toffee shade, like Oratorio BUY IT

This story first appeared on

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