Expert Advice

NAILS: How to Determine Skintone and Choose the Best Fall Colors for Your Clients

Jamie Newman | August 31, 2016 | 11:13 AM
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CND's Craft Culture collection, out fall 2016
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Sarah Bland, Smith & Cult nail ambassador, says emerald, like the brand’s new fall hue Darjeeling Darling, evokes hard-edged elegance and is a confident, smart choice for fall.
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Metallics work on a variety of skin tones. Tired of regular gold and silver? Try gunmetal or a rose gold, such as 1972 from Smith & Cult’s fall collection.
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You can’t go wrong with oxblood, like this one from SpaRitual.
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OPI Nail Lacquer in CIA Color is Awesome, part of its Fall/Winter collection inspired by Washington D.C.
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Deep, rich jewel tones are trending for fall and winter, like Caviar Bar from Essie’s Gel Couture collection.
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To enhance your fall nails know-how, MODERN tasked nail pros with answering your color-related questions to boost nail business in the salon.

Trending Now

In true fall fashion, jewel tones and vibrant earth tones will reign supreme. Think rich fuchsia, blue-green, emerald, deep plum, denim and oxblood. For winter, sparkle and shine will be trending for the holiday season and afterwards. Regal metallics like rose gold and platinum will play off some of the trends seen at Fashion Week.


“Luminous, shimmering shine will be trending, with hints of sparkle shining through in jewel tones,” says Shelena Robinson, CND education ambassador. “A woman can’t go wrong with peek-through glitter.” Inspiration behind fall and winter collections come from fashion, travel, art, nature and everything in between.


OPI’s seasonal collections are always destination-based,” says Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, OPI co-founder and brand ambassador. “Drawing inspiration from my travels—food, music, fashion, film, art, architecture and pop culture—helps determine the next geographic location.”


Brands have linked up with creative directors, fashion designers and trend agencies to forecast trends months from when collections launch. Last year, Essie hand-picked fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff as its global color designer. Minkoff curates Essie’s seasonal collections based on her own favorite places, eras and more, bridging the gap between the fashion and

beauty industries.


“There’s just something about fall that always feels hopeful and fresh,” says Sarah Bland, Smith & Cult ambassador. “With Fashion Week setting the stage for inspiration, it’s an ideal time to experiment with trends or add some variation to looks that are tried and true. Each Smith & Cult collection reflects what is relevant in fashion and beauty but also hints at what’s to come.”


Tone on Tone

Consider if skintone is cool or warm when selecting the ideal polish shade for your client. Cool skin has blue, rose or gray undertones. Warm skin has yellow, olive or bronze undertones. Remember, even a client with fair skin could have

warm undertones.


“Look at the underside of your client’s wrist,” says Catherine Baek, ORLY director of education. “If you see pink undertones and the veins appear blue, then she has cool skin. If you see yellow or bronze undertones and the veins appear greener than blue, then she has warm skin.”


Another way to determine skintone is through jewelry: if skin looks better in silver, she has cool tones, and if skin looks better in gold, she has warm tones.


“For light skin, think cool tones,” says SpaRitual founder Shel Pink. “My top picks are pink sheers, a classic red with a cool, blue undertone, a deep navy or vivacious fuchsia.”


For medium skin, Pink says to select colors with warm undertones like beige, orangey reds and warm sky blue. Weiss-Fischmann loves jeweltone green shades on olive skin.


On dark skin, Weiss-Fischmann says go for a bright colors like yellow or terracotta, or light shades like a creme pink nude.


“Almost every color looks good on people with darker skin tones,” Pink says. “Bold colors are always a fun choice, as well as a beautiful burgundy red. Deep, rich purples will also look stunning.”


Baek says coral shades ranging from pink coral to orange coral are universally flattering. Arica Carpenter, brand manager for Cuccio, adds white also works for most.


Color Play

The general consensus among nail pros for making fingers and nails appear longer is to choose light colors,

whites or nudes. To further elongate, try vertical designs that create an illusion of length.


Don’t let nail shape take a backseat—oval, squoval, round or almond-shaped nails help give the appearance of lengthy fingers and nails.


Gino Trunzo, Essie director of education, warns to avoid dark colors on clients who have smaller nail beds, as they can give the illusion of shorter nails and stubby fingers (asa benefit to those with larger hands, however, darks can be used to minimize the appearance).


As with all color theory, remember that dark colors recede and minimize where light colors enlarge.


“You can create an illusion by applying the dark shade all over the nail and apply a lighter shade only in the center,” Baek says.


You Do You

When it comes to color, Pink says, surrender to it. With so many advancements in formulas and finishes, there is no excuse not to experiment. Follow these guidelines as a general rule of thumb but, at the end of the day, your client should chose whatever color makes her happy.


“Personally, I feel that when it comes to nail color, nothing is taboo,” Weiss-Fischmann says. “Clients should choose the shade they love best!”

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