Top 5: The Best Blue Nail Polishes

The unquestionably airtight science of color psychology would probably stipulate that blue is a calming shade. Something about its association with the sky, sea, and other nature-type things. That's all fine and dandy, but consider this: Blue on the nails is actually quite energizing. Be it warm or cool, bright or muted, it's almost universally flattering. Additionally, it gives nails a much-needed pop of sophistication after all those times you've found yourself standing in front of the nail polish wall at a manicurist thinking, "Ah well, guess I'll just go with BBF again." BBF is fine. Blue is better. These blues in particular:

Best ceruleanYSL Bleu Majorelle

Best pastelTenoverten Austin

Best royal blueChanel Vibrato

Best bordering-on-seafoamSmith & Cult Bitter Buddhist

Best verging-on-grayDolce & Gabbana Jaipur Blue

Melissa Karl photographed by Tom Newton. Nails by Tenoverten with The Foundation base coat and The Shield top coat—check out their newest salon in New York's Financial District on Fulton Street.

On the nail: Read more polish roundups, including the very best metallic and pink shades. 

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Tomorrow: The Glossier Showroom Hosts Paintbox

Have you stopped by the Glossier Summer Fridays Showroom yet? If not, you're in luck—the best is yet to come.

That best being Paintbox gel manicures, free with your Glossier purchase. Pick from a curated selection of nail designs (mainly Glossier pink, but other options, too) and start the weekend with nails that won't chip, even if you wanted them to. Incentives are a beautiful thing, aren't they?

We'll be here starting at 11am. See you then.

Photo by Nadine Head-Gordon.

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Naked—Not Bare—Nails

Unlike extravagant nail art or indulgent professional gels, maintaining clean nails can feel like a rigorously hygienic exercise. They're manicured but unfussy. Even if they're not bare, they're always less-than-glaringly polished. At minimum, they’re nicely filed and maybe buffed. The woman who embraces this nail trend isn't someone who doesn't care about her manicure—she just cares more about the 'care' side of 'nail care' and how that can be a wearable look.

And like the women who wear them, there are variations consider here. A spectrum of stark to covered, as follows:

First, absolutely nothing but a nourishing cuticle oil like Essie’s Apricot Cuticle Oil. You can go without polish, but you shouldn't go without first checking that your nail beds are properly moisturized.

Next, the obvious choice is a single clear coat. Consider Sally Hansen's Hard As Nails for a one-two strengthening punch. Or, No. 7 Gel Finish, which can be worn alone.

Then comes the natural and subdued hues: Chanel’s 659 Beige Pur is a perfectly fleshy and pinkish nude; Essie’s Allure leaves a translucent, mother-of-pearl-like film.

And lastly, the pristine white trend still looks sophisticated without feeling overdone. A great option is Nars Écume which provides thick, opaque whiteout.

Wherever you settle, the overall theme of naked nails is one of restrained elegance—and a reminder that everyone looks better when they're wearing a little less.

—Alexis Cheung

Photographed by Tom Newton.

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Sheer (But Colorful) Polishes Are The New Low-Maintenance Manicure

Gel manicures have had their fun—their 15 minutes, if you will. And we get it (we love them, too)—there's a lot to talk about there. And you know what else there's a lot of? Opacity. And opacity, for all its good qualities, can be a lot of work.

Which is why sheer nail polish is such a precious commodity. What, you can look polished and have it be low maintenance?! You don't say. One can only get so many manicures with that same bottle of Essie Nail Polish in Ballet Slippers before it feels tired, so opt for something bolder, something in a color you wouldn't normally expect to be so translucent. And for clarity's sake, call it something other than sheer polish. Call it something fun—like jelly polishes. (At least that's what we've started calling them to avoid any nomenclature chaos.)

"You don't have to be so precious about it," said Manicurist Geraldine Holford when trying these out the other day on our designated hand model, Catherine Smith. "A girl can just put this on and go. It's a lot less time consuming because it doesn't have to be so perfect."

And if you, too, internalized what Leandra Medine said about nail polish and rings ("I hate the way nail color looks with rings—it's too ‘accessorized'"), then these are your colors. To test the theory, they're worn here with an assortment of rings from Plan de Ville. All of which comes together just enough to feel done, but not like you thought about it too much. Because we wouldn't want that...

Catherine Smith of Plan de Ville photographed by Tom Newton.

Rings courtesy of Plan de Ville. Manicure by Geraldine Holford (The Wall Group).

In order of appearance: YSL La Laque Couture Pop Water Collection in 65 Rose Splash; American Apparel Sheer Nail Lacquer in Pacific Beach; Essie Silk Watercolor in Blush Stroke, Essie Silk Watercolor in Pen & Inky; Dior Nail Glow; Zoya Professional Lacquer in Katherine; Butter London 3-Free Nail Lacquer in PetrolYSL La Laque Couture Pop Water Collection in 64 Fuchsia Rain; Deborah Lippmann Whisper Collection in Like Dreamers Do; NARS Nail Polish in Wind Dancer; OPI Sheer Tints Color-Tinted Top Coat in I Can Teal You Like Me; OPI Sheer Tints Color-Tinted Top Coat in Be Magentale With Me.

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A Love Letter To The Gel Manicure

Dear Gels,

It’s me—but I guess you figured that because you’re helping me type this. You were always so sharp and yet so round.

[Clears throat] I’m writing this because I don’t feel like I’ve been able to fully express the well of feelings I’ve developed for you over the last eight blissful months. I just think it’s time you know how much you mean to me, and believe me, being vulnerable like this is hard for me, too. Almost as hard as your glossy, lacquered exterior, but I digress…

You see, long before you, before “the ring,” and before all the oohs and ahhhs and questions surrounding wedding planning, the life of my nails was a sad and unexceptional one, a humdrum tale of snaggy edges stained in all kinds of questionable colors. And the shape? I was supposed to shape them? I didn’t know.

I didn’t know.

And then a friend introduced us, and suddenly my world was brilliant. Shiny, smooth, and colorful, you were—like Dorothy arriving in Oz. And now I don’t want to go back to black and white. I can’t. I just thought you should know you changed me forever.

Prior to this “thing” between us, I didn’t know what I was missing. I wanted clean, bare, buff nails like the Olsen twins or Carrie Bradshaw, but (and I know I don’t have to tell you this) I don’t have the hands for that. Slight fingers and small nail beds, I have not. You allowed me to put my best, albeit manly, fingers forward. But at what cost? I should have just let you be—admired from afar.

Because there were issues. Before you get upset, you know we’ve had our fair share. Is it because we’re too connected? Too strong? I don’t know, but you’ve hurt me, and I know I’ve hurt you, too. You weakened me, peeled away at my being, and I became almost unrecognizable—like a shell of my former self. But just when I was losing hope, we took that two-month break and came back stronger than ever, almost like the beginning. However, I now realize it could never be “us” in the beginning because the scars still haven’t healed.

It pains me when I think about it, all the harmful things I hold dear—smoking, drinking, foie gras, and now YOU. But let me tell you something if it’s the only thing you listen to: Even if I knew the nitty-gritty back then, I’d do it all again. You were worth it—are worth it.

You can’t be my main squeeze forever, and you know why. But if it’s a small consolation, let me offer affairs—weddings, vacations, and random Sundays because, damn it, I just want to be with you. Like the odd cigarette or duck-fat/french-fry binge, we will have to choose our time together carefully. Maybe that makes it more special. Maybe that makes us, well, us.

I’ll continue seeing you until the wedding, so it’s not goodbye, but it is time we start being realistic about what this is and has been and where it is going. It has been greater than I ever imagined. And although the scars will take months—maybe years—to heal, I don’t regret it. Not for one slick, chip-free second.

xxJesse

—Jesse Dickenson

Photo by Emily Weiss. Sad to see them go, love to watch them leave: How To Remove a Gel Manicure at home.

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