Nail Trends

By Chandra Orr

March 14, 2012 5 min read

This spring, the hottest nails will be sporting bold 1980s-inspired hues, romantic pastels and lots of personality.

"Neon nail polish is one of the hottest nail trends this season," says Allen Ash, owner of the nail polish line Expressions by Almar. "Neon polish is popping up everywhere from the runways to the streets and is one of the easiest ways to sport the new trend."

Those old enough to remember the '80s -- and cringe at the thought of revisiting their youthful fashion transgressions -- will be pleased to know that the new neons aren't quite so, well, neon.

The colors are a bit more subdued and definitely more modern. Electric blues have a touch of teal; hot pinks take on salmon undertones; and bright orange means tangerine, not the glaring color of caution signs.

"Trendy neon shades provide a welcome burst of joy and color during the cold, dark winter months," says Kayse Gehret, founder of Soulstice Nail Colour, a long-wearing, nontoxic, vegan nail polish collection. "If true neons are too much for you, or feel a little too 'young,' go for a more muted version such as chartreuse or creamy yellow."

Neon is a quite possibly the top trend for spring, but moderation is the key to wearing these electric shades with style. Think of your bold manicure as another accessory and pair those bright nails with sleek, minimal ensembles.

"Neons are well-paired with solid, monochromatic and structured looks like menswear and sharp suits. Keep rings, bracelets and watches classic and understated," Gehret says. "A neon manicure will draw extra attention to your digits, so take care that your hands are well cared for and ready for the spotlight."

For a sophisticated slant, stick with muted, modern neons -- and save the look for the weekend.

"Generally, high contrast colors, (such as) metallic and neon, are perceived as edgy and rock-chic -- think Steven Tyler -- while more basic colors mixed with a muted contrast tone are high fashion," explains model and ABC Academy Awards correspondent Roshumba Williams. "The best way to wear this trend is while attending concerts, parties, clubs and other social events. Unless you are self-employed, do not wear this nail style to work."

To rock the rock-and-roll look on the weekends, opt for high wattage hues -- and add a crackle polish in a contrasting color. Experiment with budget-friendly polishes from Expressions by Almar. Available in traditional and crackle polish, their intense neons cost just $3.99 a bottle. It's a great way to try the trend without a pricey commitment.

*Romantic Pastels

Dusty pastels with a touch of metallic are also big for spring.

"Cool romance is how I would describe this season's color palette -- sweet pastels, smoky neutrals and buffed nudes," Gehret says. "These innocent pastels look amazing paired with the floral confections and pretty print dresses we see on the runways."

The look is subtle yet sophisticated. Think golden pink, chartreuse, robin's egg blue, periwinkle and smoky lavender. These pastels are less saturated, almost smoky, often with a slight metallic tone.

"Metallic touches add a bit of an edge to the innocence of these ethereal shades. We adore the reverse French manicure, using sparkling silver or molten gold," Gehret says. "Pair metallic nail polish shades with pretty florals, gauzy scarves and feminine sundresses."

*Mixed-Up Manicures

"One of the biggest -- and most tame -- trends is painting one nail a different color than the rest. By sporting multiple hues, you are adding some fun to your nails but still maintain a polished look perfect for the workplace," Williams says.

Wearing multiple colors at once is not as wild as it sounds. Stick with two or three hues from the same palette -- salmon pink, rosy tangerine and buttery yellow, for example -- and alternate the shade between nails for a chic, cohesive look.

Tipping also makes a personal statement. It's a trendy take on the classic French manicure, but forget the traditional nude and white combo. The modern French manicure is all mixed up; think tangerine polish with white tips or subtle silver with bold blue tips. For a work-friendly look, try soft pink with metallic silver tips or delicate coral with dusty orange accents.

"It's possible to personalize your nails while still keeping it professional," Gehret says. "When tipping or accenting with a bold or metallic shade, keep the base shade clear, light or delicate."

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