Gone are the days of killing your nail beds for the latest trend. This minimalist mani is high shine and low maintenance
There's something so refreshing and modern about the no-color trend. Instead of shocking shades and elaborate art, this one is all about showing off the health of your nails and the effect is super easy to pull off. Innovative base coats and top coats give you perfectly polished, low-maintenance nails in just a few swipes.
Choose the right base coat
The latest base coats do more than just prime your nails for polish. They're laced with vitamins, peptides, proteins, or botanicals to nourish and protect. OPI Gel Break Serum ($14; loxabeauty.com), developed as an antidote to the issues that crop up after improper gel-polish removal (namely weakened nail beds that lead to peeling and increased brittleness), contains vitamins A, C, and E, plus safflower oil, bamboo, and cactus extracts.
Or try the keratin peptide-infused Dermelect Launchpad Nail Strengthener ($16, ulta.com), which restores protein to the nails, making them stronger and more flexible. (P.S. you really need to stop these bad nail habits that are going to wreck your tips.)
Now choose a healing nail polish
If at this point your nails look great, then just go with a coat of clear. The wide, flat brush in Sally Hansen Color Therapy Top Coat ($9; drugstores) makes application speedy, and the formula contains argan oil, acai, and evening primrose oil to keep nails moisturized and glossy. (But if you do want color, make sure it's still a healthy polish.)
For more help, try one or two of these Zoya Naked Manicure Perfectors. Like photo filters for your nails, the sheer topcoats blur imperfections, color-correct uneven stains on your nails, boost your skin tone, and add subtle shine thanks to smoothing ingredients and reflective sheer hues. To offset yellow-stained nails, start with the lavender. Then opt for the shade that best matches your nail bed—the pink for warm skin, the mauve for dark skin, etc.—which is what will look most natural. If you want to brighten your tips, finish with a swipe of the sheer white across the free edge. Whatever you choose, the result is your nails, only better. (Love your nearly-naked nails? Try the no-makeup look next.)
How to get healthier nails in two steps
1. Oil up nightly
Rub cuticle oil into each nail before bed. "This gives it plenty of time to be absorbed while you sleep," says King. Vapour Replenish Organic Nail & Cuticle Oil ($32; vapourbeauty.com) boasts seven oils to soften, plus extracts of reishi mushroom (to thicken nails) and horsetail (to reduce brittleness). (After oiling up your nails, make sure you give your body some attention to keep your skin soft, too.)
2. Push back (don't cut) cuticles
It takes only 15 seconds for cuticle remover (King swears by Butter London Melt Away Cuticle Exfoliator, $18; butterlondon.com) to do its thing. "And you don't run the risks that come with cutting them, such as infection or having them grow back thicker," she says. After applying, nudge back each cuticle.