When A Mani Is More Than Just A Mani

Let’s face it: we women are colorful creatures — and yes, it’s possible for us to change moods at the drop of a hat (even, ahem, multiple times in a day). We’re multifaceted, we’re multitaskers, and we refuse to fit one mold. One of our favorite ways to subtly express whatever mood we’re feeling on a given day? Why, with our nails, of course. 

The nail polish world has come a long way from an era when women were essentially able to choose from three nail polish colors: pink, red, and coral. Today, women from all walks of life are as likely to sport a simple, perfect-for-their-skin-tone nude as they are to rock metallic, snakeskin-textured talons. And why shouldn’t we? Unlike the latest It bag, even the priciest polish won’t run you over 40 bucks a pop, meaning that it’s possible for most women to own an entire nail polish wardrobe — and change things up accordingly. 

That being said, many of us have one nail category that we’re drawn to most often — whether that be chic, inky dark shades or the latest shade of vibrant cherry red. And, according to nail pros Ji Baek, founder of Rescue Beauty Lounge and CND Education Manager Roxanne Valinoti, your go-to nail look can say a few things about your personality. While by no means prescriptive, Baek and Valinoti shared their thoughts with us on the different nail looks out there (and the women who love them) — did they get it right with your favorite look?


The discerning woman who chooses nude for her tips appreciates classic, polished style — and likely has a career that requires her to be taken seriously. “There’s something chic about nudes,” says Baek. “They’re like a refresh button.” If you find yourself choosing nude over and over, you may be a bit of a perfectionist — or, says Baek, you may just need a bit of a life do-over: “It’s like breaking up with a boyfriend, like a clean slate.” 

Try This Now: Julep Nail Color in Alaina, $14, available at Julep.


Girls who wear brights on their nails are fun, yes — but it’s more complicated than that. “This girl is trendy, but also a little shy,” says Baek.”She might wear khaki, or black, or gray, and then use bright polishes to show that flash of personality.” Personality traits can vary based on the type of bright chosen, Valinoti adds. “Neons are young and fun, while bright corals and pinks are playful.” Reds, on the other hand, are indicative of a woman who truly owns her sexuality. 

Try This Now: Dolce & Gabbana Intense Nail Lacquer in Lemon, $20, available at Saks Fifth Avenue.


“Darks are no longer vamp, but rather chic, and the wearer is usually fashion-forward — and possibly a little seductive,” says Valinoti. At the same time, there’s no denying that dark polish represenst that edgy wink — the bit of rebellion that’s in every woman, Baek says. “There are punks in all of us. Dark is the new red of our generation. They’re like having a perfect stiletto in your wardrobe.” 

Try This Now: Guerlain Nail Lacquer in Vega, $23, available at Nordstrom.


Baek has…feelings about glitter. “I don’t know about you, but I can’t really deal with buying sequined jackets and glitter shoes,” she says. “But, glitter nail polish? That I can handle.” Glitzy nails are an easy way to let your free-spirited side run free (even just a little bit). “It’s the perfect outlet for someone who wants to let loose and be a little jazzy,” says Baek. And we all have our jazzy moments, don’t we? 

Try This Now: Ciaté Paint Pots Nail Polish, $15, available at Sephora.


Metallics are for a sophisticated woman who appreciates a sense of drama — think a girl whose idea of a good time is drinking a Gatsby-era cocktail at a speakeasy while wearing dramatic, Katharine Hepburn-esque trousers. Girls who wear metallics have an element of showgirl razzle-dazzle buried deep inside them, says Baek: “Metallics are like wearing a fabulous gown — but just on your nails.” 

Try This Now: Sally Hansen Lustre Shine Nail Color in Copperhead, $7.99, available at CVS.


If you’re feeling the need to get in touch with your creative side — as we all do at times — why not start with a little bit of art on your tips? “The woman who rocks nail art is bold, artistic and appreciates the attention” that a truly to-die-for mani can bring, says Valinoti. If you’re feeling stagnant (in terms of your life or your style), some bright dots, flowers, or stripes could get your juices flowing. 

Try This Now: NCLA Nail Wraps in Yellow Submarine, $16, available at NCLA.


“This girl is a true trendsetter,” says Valinoti. “Like nail art, texture can vary from snakeskin to sand and marble, so the wearer is usually experimental and artistic.” The patron saint of girls who gravitate toward textures? Alexander Wang, and his futuristic, always-on-the-edge designs. These girls don’t just follow trends; they make the trends. “Textures are for the die-hard nail person — they’re like foodies,” says Baek. And, like trying the craziest dish on the menu, textures will give you a thrill. The sky’s the limit. 

Try This Now: Nails Inc. Beaded Polish in Coral, $11, available at Sephora.


Yes, Easter-egg shades are traditionally romantic and girly — but this season, these candy-colored hues are becoming much more versatile. “Pastels are like the perfect light cotton scarf — they can bring out the feminine and light side of even the most hard-core fashionista,” says Baek. Plus, even the most trend-centric nail guru needs a break every once in a while, she adds. “And, pastels are like a summer vacation for your nails.” 

Try This Now: RGB Nail Polish in Pool, $18, available at Net-A-Porter.

llustrated by Isabelle Rancier

Click HERE to read more from Refinery29.

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