Chaotic neutral: my favorite unexpected neutral nail colors

chaotic neutral: my favorite unexpected neutral nail colors



I love nail polish. I own an obscenely large amount of it. I feel incomplete without it. But I hate physically painting my nails. After years I’m still terribly uncoordinated, shocked by the time it takes to dry, and managing to accidentally sit on my own hand and leaving denim imprints all over my own work. So I like to go with a color I can get some mileage out of, and maximize the time before I have to repeat the process. So these are my favorite nail polishes that are kind of unusual but still manage to match a lot of outfits, without being pink, beige, or black.


OPI – My Private Jet

Replaces: a dark neutral, black

The description provided by OPI describes this as a charcoal with glitter, to me it has always looked like the most stunning cool-toned gray-brown with silver flecks that aren’t so big as to constitute chunky, but a little larger than the average glitter. It’s a very clean-toned gunmetal, which is cool enough as it is, with the addition of these not quite matte, not quite metallic flecks that are really set off against the dark brown/gray background, like the constellations in a gunmetal sky.

Flower Beauty – I Lavendare You

Replaces: light pink

I Lavendare You is a lilac/lavender that at first glance it looks like your standard pretty, soft pink manicure, but when you look closely it’s actually light purple flecked with very fine, teal/blue-green glitter. The glitter is subtle enough that it doesn’t impact the color, and still looks like as an opaque, cream nail color, (nothing shimmery about it) but has a little surprise courtesy of Drew Barrymore, who owns Flower Cosmetics.

Sephora by OPI – I’m With Brad

Replaces: black or dark, dark red

Stay with me here – I have no other way to describe this color than that of dried blood. It’s a deep, dark, near-black brownish red with oxblood and amber shimmer. I could liken it to Essie’s “Wicked” or “Berry Naughty,” the so-dark-red-they’re-borderline-black shades, but the base is more of coffee grounds brown and it’s got this insane mix of maroon and burnt sienna shimmer glazed over top of it. Kind of like the brown, red, crystalline quality of dried blood. It looks expensive, and kind of decadent, and a little weird, and totally without duplicate.

Marc Jacobs Beauty – Fluorescent Beige

Replaces: pinky, medium beige, “nude” (ugh) colors

Unlike most cosmetics colors (minus I’m With Brad, which I think is pretty damn accurate if you can get the Angelina Jolie reference and extrapolate a bit) Marc Jacobs really hit the nail on the head with “Fluorescent Beige.” Though by no means fluorescent in the neon sense, it is a sort of bizzaro-world pulsating beige nude color, like the color of a nail bed, drunk. I love using this on my toes for it’s ability to look a little different but still match everything, I’m not very flexible so I like to make my pedicures last. I’ve worn this probably more than any other nail color I own, and I’m still not sure what I’m looking at. It’s sort of a greyish, mauve-y base with lighter bright coral-pink shimmer. It’s not color shift, but it has that quality where the color looks different from different angles. The pinkish sparkle creates a halo-y effect that is kind of like the glow around a neon light. Also I love Marc Jacobs nail polish for the shine and texture, it just makes your nails feel thick and sturdy without many coats.

Essie – Sand Tropez

Replaces: beige, tan, greige

This was greige before there was greige. I’ve done all the greiges, the mauves, every combination of pink/gray/brown/black/white you can shake a stick at and Sand Tropez is by far my favorite. I want my nail color to look clean, and I find the greiges though amazing in concept, can look really muddy, not in a fun grunge-y way, just kind of cheap and dirty looking. Sand Tropez is a bright greige, if one were capable of existing. It is equal parts gray and beige, to the point where I would have difficulty describing the color to you. No pink, no yellow, not cool or warm, just gray and brown together that’s neither light nor dark. It’s a beautiful perfect nothingness.

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