The Polish in Question
You'd be forgiven if you thought the most beloved nail lacquer of 2017 was a fiery red or a bubblegum pink—after all, those are wildly popular shades. But the most saved nail shade on Pinterest so far this year is actually a nude. Specifically, we're talking about Essie's "Topless and Barefoot," which is a creamy, pinkish beige.
Topless and Barefoot, $9, essie.com.
"Topless and Barefoot" is just the tip of the iceberg, people. According to the magical metrics people over at Pinterest, people are searching "nude nails" 796 percent more than ever before on the platform. That huge percentage increase serves as surprising evidence that while nail art will always be fun to play around with, nail painters and salon-goers alike still stay true to the basics.
But, there has to be something deeper going on, right? Color trends aren't just about what's pretty to look at—they're also representative of the ways in which we interact socially (IRL and online), and how we present ourselves. Case in point: millennial pink.
In order to get to the bottom of this "brown is in" trend going on with nail polish, we consulted Hannah Craggs, the color editor of WGSN, a London-based trend-forecasting agency. "Essie's nude range hits a sweet spot for social-loving millennials," she says. "From the Scandinavian design trend and our wholehearted embrace of millennial pink, warmer nudes appear both modern and pared back—consumers want to appear groomed, but not overly done." This all makes sense, as color in general has become muted and more curated. Just take a look at your BFF's Instagram grid or peep the text color range on Snapchat.
"Warmer nudes appear both modern and pared back—consumers want to appear groomed, but not overly done." —Hannah Craggs
Shades similar to "Topless and Barefoot" have permeated other parts of pop culture as well. "We don't have to look far to see echoes of these shades in Yeezy collections and even Rihanna's Fenty range," Craggs says. "They fit perfectly into our carefully curated social spheres and speak wordlessly to peers of good taste." Let's all give this color a chef's kiss whilst the hue is painted on our nails, shall we?
The Nude Awakening
When viewing this trend at a more macro level, it's interesting to discuss nude as a concept, especially when it comes to defining standards in a global environment that harbors a diverse range of race, ethnicity, and identity. "In the language of fashion, historically the term 'nude' conjures up images of a super-feminine and magical medium tone located somewhere between blush, beige, and peach," Craggs says.
"In fact, I'd go as far as to say the term 'nude' is pretty outdated."
That's no longer the status quo, though. "The old connotation of 'nude' speaks only to a small section of society," Craggs says. "In fact, I'd go as far as to say the term 'nude' is pretty outdated and that when we talk about nudes, we're referring to an entire color group that ranges from super-pale alabaster to enriched cocoa." Nail brands are adopting the stance that nudes should be for everyone, with Butter London, Deborah Lippmann, Nails Inc., Estée Lauder, and even Essie providing shades that people with fair to dark skin tones can call their "nude."
Undressed Shades of Nudes Set, $34, deborahlippmann.com.
The Next Polish Trend
Pulp, $8, flossgloss.com.
OK, so you're probably still caught up in the low-key hysteria of "Topless and Barefoot," but it's never too early to look toward the future. "I'm seeing a continued evolution of all things pastel within nail color," Craggs says about the next big shade for manicures. "Keep your eyes peeled for youthful frosted lilacs and playful peaches taking to the state." We should probably stock up on those hues before they sell out, right? Get to shopping!