Sleek and minimal, yet fun and summery, white nails are showing up on runways and red carpets as one of this season’s biggest nail color trends. And it’s not hard to see why: not only does a bright white manicure look good on everyone, but it also goes with everything in your closet, especially those white summer dresses, skirts, and jeans you’ve been waiting all year to wear.
But there are a couple key things to know before diving into this summer trend. Follow these easy tips and your all-white mani will look fresh, clean, and sophisticated—not like you just covered your fingertips in White-Out.
1. Choose the right shade.
Yes, there is more than one shade of white. If your summer tan is going strong (or you’re just naturally blessed with a warmer skin tone), a true white like Brigitte (Classic with a Twist) will stand out beautifully and give you an even more pronounced glow. If you’re on the paler and pinker side, try a sheer or satin finish like Soraphine (Classic with a Twist) or Hope (It Girl). These shades will still look plenty bright, but won’t look as jarring against your complexion.
If pure white feels a little daunting, dip your toe in with one of these unique twists: Bunny (It Girl) is a white linen crème softened by fine gold shimmer; Kathy is our pearl birthstone polish that gives off a gorgeous, pale gold shimmer that looks almost white in the light; and Ramona (Classic with a Twist) is a muted lavender rose crème that has just the slightest touch of pinky-purple tint, but still taps into the white trend.
2. Prep your nails.
Don’t forget the base coat! Some people think that a base coat is only useful if it prevents staining, so they opt to skip it for very light polishes. But a base coat also helps the polish adhere to your nail, and fills in ridges, which is especially important for white polish, which can be more prone to streaking. Oxygen Smoothing Base Coat is perfectly suited for the job, because its milky, semi-matte finish will help any white polish look more opaque and less streaky from the get-go.
3. Pay attention to nail shape.
Because it’s so bright and crisp around the edges, white polish can be less forgiving than other shades, so make sure your nails are clipped and filed evenly before you polish. There’s also length to consider: because white is such a statement, nails that are shorter and rounder play a good counterpoint to the boldness of the look. If you want to keep your nails long, consider rounding the tip of each nail to an almond shape, which looks edgier but comes off more modern compared to a square edge.
4. Keep it clean.
White polish looks especially good when the edges are clean and crisp, so do what you can to stay inside the lines as you polish. One trick that helps with neatness: use a Q-tip to apply a thin coat of Vaseline on your cuticles before you polish—the Vaseline will help any rogue bits of polish slide right off once your mani is dry. To stop mess-ups before they happen, use your Plié Wand™ to increase your accuracy as you polish, and then clean up the edges with your Clean Slate Polish Corrector Pen or manicure cleanup tool.
5. Layer it up.
Use thin, even layers, letting each layer dry before applying the next. It might take more than two coats to get to the opacity you want. One tip we’ve shared before: to even out the first layer and prime the next, apply a thin layer of Matte Top Coat between your layers of white polish. It really works!
Finish with a super glossy, high-performance top coat, and don’t forget to seal the free edge of each nail when you apply the final coat of white polish, and then again with the top coat. This part is even more crucial than usual, because chipped white nail polish is more noticeable than other shades.
Optional next steps:
Play it up with accent nails or nail art. A white mani is the perfect blank canvas for a little bit of adorable nail art, whether it’s a glitter accent nail or a smattering of colorful polka dots.
Add jewelry. Bracelets and rings in gold, silver, or rose gold all look lovely against a crisp white mani. So pile ‘em on!
Take a nail selfie (nailfie? nailie?). Strike a pose with your summer-fresh manicure. Hold an ice cream cone. Add a filter. Then just wait for the likes to rolllllll in.
Will you be rocking white nails this summer? Show us your manis or share your favorite shades in the comments!