7 Summer Nail Colors You Should Try, According to the Pros

summer nail colors
Photographed by Grant Cornett, Vogue, May 2019

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As the temperatures climb and the days get brighter and longer, one way to usher in the change of season is by replenishing your summer nail colors. You can find the right burnished shade to complement your warm-weather wardrobe or add a retina-burning dose of color to really make your beachside look pop.

“Bold, vibrant, fun colors that feel warm come to mind first,” says celebrity nail artist Mo Qin, whose recent clients include Ashley Graham and Jodie Turner-Smith, of what feels right for the collective mood this summer. While Qin is feeling the pull of bright yellow, which is Pantone’s official color of the year for 2021, fellow editorial pro Betina Goldstein is all about sizzling citrusy alternatives to a classic red manicure, like vivid coral. In a similar spirit, New York City manicurist Jin Soon Choi thinks it’s high time to get experimental. “Go for a shade that is a little outside your comfort zone,” she says. “Summer is all about fun and adventure!”

Here, the industry’s biggest nail pros weigh in on the summer nail colors they can’t get enough of right now.

Fiery Coral

If you’re looking for a summery alternative to tried-and-true crimson, you can’t go wrong with a rich coral. Goldstein’s go-to is Chanel’s Le Vernis polish in Cruise, a highly pigmented orange she considers “sophisticated but playful,” while Choi’s fiery Pop Orange shade “works great on warmer skin tones,” she says.

Chanel Le Vernis in Cruise

$28
CHANEL

Essie Expressie Quick-Dry Nail Polish in Strong At 1%

$9
ESSIE

J. Hannah Nail Polish in Saltillo

$19
J. HANNAH

JINsoon Choi Nail Polish in Pop Orange

$18
JINSOON

Sheer Pink

“For a lighter, easy-breezy look, a sheer pink is beautiful and works great with every skin tone,” says Choi, whose shade Muse is a mainstay on many of her editorial shoots due to its universally flattering hue.

Paintbox Single Nail Lacquer in Like Blush

$22
PAINTBOX

Mented Nude Nail Collection in Pinkish

$8
MENTED

JINsoon Nail Polish in Muse

$18
JINSOON

Nails. Inc London Make Mine Rosé Nail Polish

$15
NAILS INC. LONDON

Turquoise Blue

A shade the Vogue beauty team recently spotted on Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, turquoise is both fresh and timeless. “It’s refreshing yet bold,” says Qin of the azure hue. “It reminds me of a translucent ocean.”

Sundays Studio No. 34 Eggshell Turquoise

$18
SUNDAYS

Gucci Vernis à Ongles Nail Polish in Dorothy Turquoise

$28
GUCCI

Olive and June Nail Polish in Yes Please

$8
OLIVE AND JUNE

Essie Nail Polish in In the Cab Ana

$9
ESSIE

Sun Yellow

Last December, Pantone named bright yellow 2021’s color of the year, and since then the lemony shade has been everywhere. It’s no wonder why: “2020 was tough for everyone, and seeing yellow really evokes a new spirit of optimism and resilience,” says Qin.

JINsoon Nail Polish in Tweety

$18
JINSOON

& Other Stories Calendula Sun Nail Polish

$7
& OTHER STORIES

OPI Nail Lacquer in Don’t Tell a Sol

$10
OPI

Holo Taco Nail Polish in Banana Hacks

$11
HOLO TACO

Electric Green

“An electric green gives a white linen summer outfit the perfect pop of color but also goes perfectly with a black minidress for those summer nights out,” says Goldstein, who has been reaching for Essie’s new limited-edition Feelin’ Just Lime polish as of late.

JINsoon Nail Polish in Palma

$18
JINSOON

Essie Nail Polish in ‘Feelin’ Just Lime’

$9
ESSIE

C?te No. 62 Fern Green Nail Polish

$18
C?TE

Kiko Milano Nail Polish in Lawn Green

$2
KIKO MILANO

Off White

A pale off-white is perfect for a summer wedding or bridal shower. “When everyone else is sporting a basic nude, marshmallow puts a unique spin on your ideal summer look,” says Qin. For a touch of shine and dimension, Goldstein loves an “opalescent sheer” effect.

Chanel Le Vernis in Perle Blanche

$28
CHANEL

Essie Nail Polish in Marshmallow

$9
ESSIE

Nails. Inc What the Shell? Pearl Effect Nail Polish

$11
NAILS. INC

Sundays Nail Polish in No.48 Cream Parfait

$18
SUNDAYS

Periwinkle Blue

With its hints of pink and purple, Qin calls periwinkle a “showstopping” blue that also pairs beautifully with florals by way of flower crowns or corsages. Choi also loves a lavender-tinged blue for summer, calling her baby blue Aero shade “crisp and clean.”

OPI Infinite Shine Long-Wear Nail Polish in To Be Continued

$13
OPI

Deborah Lippmann Iconic Nail Polish in Blue Orchid

$18
DEBORAH LIPPMANN

JINsoon Nail Polish in Aero

$18
JINSOON

Dr.'s Remedy Natural Nail Polish in Perceptive Periwinkle

$19
DR.'S REMEDY