How To Mix and Match Nail Polish Colors

Knowing how to mix and match nail polish colors is the first step to coming up with really inspiring and creative nail art designs, ones you have probably seen in fashion journals or on the Instagram account of an aspiring nail artist. Even the simplest nail designs can look unique, if you have combined the right nail polish colors with each other, while not correctly color-blocked hues can lead to disastrous nail looks, even if you have spent hours on creating intricate designs.

How To Mix and Match Nail Polish Colors

Today wearing a single color on nails is considered too boring, therefore learning the basic principles of creating stylish nail art designs through beautiful color combinations is a good idea. Learn the rules of combining different nail polish colors like a pro for creating outstanding nail art designs.

Two-Tone Manicure Techniques

Although wearing a single color on nails is a timeless trend, a classic look that is both minimalist and elegant, adding the second color you’ll also boost the drama and interest in your looks. One of the easiest ways of combining two nail polish tones in a single design is the ombre technique, which implies creating a maximum beautiful and smooth transition of the colors on the nails the way to create a pretty gradient effect.

Ombre nails demonstrate a very slight change in the degree of saturation of the main color, therefore using two different tones of the same color is a good idea. This is known as the monochromatic technique of combining different nail polish tones and you are free to play with the big diversity of the tones of a single color, from the lightest to the darkest shades.

You can not only pick different hues of the same color, but also matching tones from the same color range. For instance, if blue is your choice, you need to know that it’s correlated with purple, green and pastel blue.

You need to create a beautiful harmony between the brightness and saturation using light and dark shades of the same tones. Think sky blue with ocean blue, lavender with lilac, purple with violet, and if you prefer green shades, then match green with turquoise, or aquamarine with emerald.

Besides sticking to the same color tones, you need also to pay attention to the textures of the nail polishes you combine in a single look. You’ll want to mix and match nail polishes with the same finishes, like matter effect ones with matte lacquers or shimmery options with ones with the same shimmery effect.

On the other hand, you can create bolder and more eye-popping looks by mixing and matching contrasting hues in your ombre mani. To this end, it’s important to be guided by the main color-blocking rules in order not to make a mistake in the choice of colors. Think hot all the diverse combinations of jewel tones, as well as orange with navy blue, sky blue with light brown, yellow with purple, purple with aquamarine, classic red with green, etc.

When playing with bright colors, you should be very attentive not to make any mistakes, since even the slightest flow will instantly pop out on the background of brights. To minimize such errors, you’re advised to experiment with shades of pink, classic neutrals, turquoise and the most timeless combinations of white with black or gray.

How To Mix and Match Nail Polish Colors

Achromatic color combination is the next technique you can be guide by, in case of which you pick one neutral shade as the primary tone, matching it with literally any accents of bright and pastel tones. Black, white, gray and nude tones are the protagonist shades in this case, which can be harmoniously mixed and matched with each other or make wonderful color pairs with any other tone from the color wheel.

For instance, you can match black with white or take your color-blocking skills to a whole new level combining black with red, black with gold or silver, white with any shade of blue, gray with pink, etc.

See also: 80 Classy Nail Art Designs For Short Nails

Still, if ombre is too complicated for you, you can create fun looks by painting each of your fingers in two matching shades, creating a smooth transition of colors on each of them. Two identical tones of the same color lead to the most flawless results here. You might want to start with the thumb using the brightest or the darkest shade on it and then making your way to the pinky, on which you need to apply the lightest shade.

Otherwise, you can paint all your fingers in the same tone except for the middle or ring finger, which can be accentuated with the matching tone of the same color, or a contrasting one. Glittery nail polishes are the best to act as contrasting tones, since they make beautiful color pairs with practically any shade.

All the above-mentioned techniques of combining two different nail lacquer colors can also be used not only for creating the famous ombre effect, but also for a myriad of intricate nail art designs. You can pick any of the coordinating colors as the base tone, using the other one for drawing various prints and patterns on your nails.

When playing with contrasting tones, it’s advised to keep the background either neutral or bright, using bright and neutral shades accordingly for drawing creative patterns on it.

Common Nail Polish Color Combination Rules

Regardless of whether you want to create stylish two-tone nail designs or want to turn your nails into a piece of colorful art, you should have a general idea of what nail polish colors blend well in a single look and what not. While some nail artists can feel colors managing to intuitively create beautiful nail color combinations, others need to be guided by certain rules of color-blocking to avoid gaudy looks.

In addition to the well-known seven rainbow colors (yellow, orange, red, blue, indigo, green, violet), the color wheel also features one more shade ” purple, which is an in-between color of red and violet. Besides, in the color science there exists the concept of “primary shades’, which are four solid colors: yellow, green, blue and red.

Blending the primary colors and adding neutral black and white tints to them, we get all the other ones. Besides black and white, all the shades of gray and brown are also considered neutral shades.

How To Layer Nail Polish Colors

You also need to know how to differentiate between warm and cool colors. In this respect, when the color features a yellow or red tint in its composition, it belongs to the group of warm tones, and when featuring green or blue tones in its base it’s considered to be a cool shade. The universal rule of mixing and matching colors is combining warm shades with warm tones, and cool colors with cool ones.

Avoid using warm and cool shades of the same color in a nail design, such as mixing bluish green with yellowish green, or crimson red with orange red. Besides, you need to pay attention to your outfit and makeup tones when picking certain nail polish colors, trying to create a harmony or contrast between them.

You might also like to check out: 15 Must-Know Nail Polish Hacks For Better Nail Looks

These are the most winning nail polish color combinations you’d like to consider:

White: This versatile color can combined literally with any other color along with its different shades. Still, it makes the best combination with blue, red and black.

Beige: Match it with blue, brown, emerald, black, red and white.

Gray: This neutral color blends well with very capricious colors, like fuchsia, red, purple, pink and blue.

Pink: This girly color blends well with brown, white, mint green, olive, gray, turquoise, burgundy and pale blue.

Fuchsia: Gray, yellow-brown, lime green, mint green and brown are the best colors to match with fuchsia.

Red: The most passionate color of the entire color wheel goes well with yellow, white, brown, green, blue and black.

Tomato Red: As for tomato red, match it with blue, mint green, sand, cream and gray.

Cherry Red: This tone of red looks winning with azure, gray, light orange, sand, pale yellow and beige.

Raspberry Red: It can be combined with white, black and the beautiful damask rose color.

Brown: This earth tone can be matched with bright blue, cream, pink, yellow, green and beige.

Light Brown: The light tone of brown, on the other hand, looks amazing in combination with pale yellow, cream, blue, green, purple and red.

Dark Brown: When dealing with darker tones of brown, think canary yellow, blue, mint green, purple-pink and lime green.

Orange: Blue, indigo, violet, purple, white and black are the best colors to match with orange.

Light Orange: And when it’s a lighter tone of orange, pair it with gray, brown or olive.

Dark Orange: Pale yellow, olive, brown and cherry are the go-to colors to match with dark orange.

Yellow: Match it with blue, lilac, light blue, purple, gray or black.

Lemon Yellow: This citrus tone looks best with cherry red, brown, blue and gray.

Pastel Yellow: Lovely yellow mellow can make beautiful color pairs with fuchsia, gray, brown, shades of red, yellowish brown, blue and purple.

Golden Yellow: Gray, brown, azure, red and black are the best colors you may want to pair your golden yellow nail polish with.

Light Green: Pair it with golden brown, brown, pink, dark orange, dark blue or gray.

Olive: It looks amazing with orange, light brown and brown.

Green: The next primary color can look hot in combination with golden brown, orange, light green, yellow, brown, gray, cream and black.

Salad Green: This version of green looks best with brown, pale yellow, gray, navy blue and red.

Turquoise: Fuchsia, cherry red, yellow, brown, cream and dark purple are the best shades to match with turquoise.

Blue: Match it with red, gray, brown, orange, pink, white and yellow.

Dark Blue: The darker tones of blue should be matched with light lilac, blue, yellowish green, brown, gray, yellow mellow, orange, green, red and white.

Lilac: This lovely pastel color makes great pairs with orange, pink, dark purple, olive, gray, yellow and white.

Dark Purple: This rich color looks hot with golden brown, pastel yellow, gray, turquoise, mint green, light orange.

Bordeaux: Green, bluish green, gray, pink and blue are the colors you can match with this elegant color.

Black: Timeless black is versatile, elegant and looks especially beautiful with with orange, pink, salad green, white, red, lilac or yellow.

How To Combine Nail Polish Colors

Sticking to these common nail polish color combinations, you’re sure to always dazzle with your trendy nail looks, which can become perfect accessorizing details for your day-to-day and special occasion outfits!

Photos courtesy of Viva Luxury, Vogue

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Written by Armine Karapetyan
Armine is the founder of and an avid fashion lover. When she's not busy examining the latest fashion trends and news, she's exploring a new style for herself or is pursuing new adventures and dreams. Find her on Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.