Picking a shade of white to paint a wall is a deceptively complex process. You’d think white is white and easy enough. Not so. There are shades, tints, undertones and finishes that dramatically alter the outcome. Don’t promise you husband it will be a quick trip to Sherwin Williams – you’ll rundown his patience quickly. Luckily, I don’t write a décor blog, so I’ll leave the paint guide to the home bloggers (and the marriage tips to the relationship bloggers!).
What I can help with is picking the right white for your nails. I love white nails in the summer. It’s a clean, bright, yet minimalist way to celebrate the season. A white manicure is a great canvas for your summer looks. It complements a bright neon bikini, offers a graphic, minimalist pop against a black mini dress for evening, and adds a touch of crisp refinement to a daytime cut-off jean shorts and tee shirt look.
But, picking a white polish can be as agonizingly laborious as picking white paint. Below, I’ve organized your options: the categories of whites to consider and my favorite product picks in each category. I’ve become a true connoisseur of whites this summer, testing and sampling from the beauty counter to the drugstore.
STARK, NEON WHITE:
Nars Polish in Ecume ($20). This is the brightest, optic white I’ve come across. It’s completely opaque. This is great for those who want their white to POP. I’m told Nars is reformulating all their polishes so it can be hard to get a hold of right now as most Nars counters and stockists have cleared out inventory to prepare for the new formula. Beauty.com still has some left but if you can’t locate any, Zoya in Purity ($9) is a very close alternative.
CHALKY PURE WHITE:
There are tons of great options for your classic solid white polish, and what I discovered from researching these is that the drugstore versions are just as good as those from niche and prestige brands. White formulas are notorious for drying with visible streaks; it’s just as true for Chanel as it is for NYX. So get someone with a steady hand to handle the brush and remember to use those base and top coats.
Here are my top picks:
Revlon Top Speed Fast Dry Enamel in Spirit ($5.99) is my favorite. It was the choice for Rag and Bone’s runway models in their spring 2013 show. It dries super fast, and with two coats it’s a perfect sheet-white.
Covergirl Outlast Stay Brilliant in #110 – Snow Storm ($4.79) is a creamy white with a nice glossy finish.
Sally Hanson’s Complete Salon Manicure in #195 – Let’s Snow ($4.59) has a cool, violet undertone for a more muted white. Love the easy-to-use, wide brush in this collection. Side note: Butter’s Pure White ($15) wasn’t my favorite (it may be “vitamin-enriched” but it chips easily), and Deborah Lippman’s Amazing Grace ($18) does nothing special to warrant the price tag.
PEARL FINISH – WHITE:
A pearl polish disguises streaks, so it’s a good choice if you want white nails but are getting those nagging streaks with a glossy or matte white. Revlon Nail Enamel in Pure Pearl ($4.99) is gorgeous – and cheap. I love a pearl finish when I only have a few minutes and not enough time for all those proper manicure steps. It’s a quick fix to dress up nails before heading somewhere upscale.
PEARL FINISH – IVORY:
Essie Oui Madame ($8) is the best choice for an antiqued white in a pearl/frosted finish.
A sheer, glossy white is a classic way to wear the look year-round. Essie Waltz ($8) is my favorite in this category. It’s just the right amount of coverage – not too transparent but not opaque either. It’s a milky, translucent white which lightens your nail without “pinking” them. Deborah Lippman’s Like A Virgin ($17) is slightly more opaque but still has a subdued, soft, neutral effect.
OPI’s Happy Anniversary ($9) is a subtle shimmer effect that is perfect for any kind of party – or anniversary.
Zoya’s Ginessa ($9) has silvery white glitter flakes in a sheer white base.
Julep’s Bunny ($14) has fine gold shimmer in a white linen base.
SPECIAL EFFECTS WHITE:
For more flare, try Illamasqua’s Nail Varnish in Blizzard ($23.50) or Jin Soon’s Polka Whites ($18). Both deposit white shimmery dots and flakes of varying size in a milky base onto nails. (And both can be used as a top coat on other colors to add a fun finish).