In a sea of blues, purples and oranges, the skin-tone “mannequin” manicure stands out as a constant classic

Jenna Hipp finishes off a "mannequin hand" manicure with a glossy HIPPxRGB topcoat. Photography by Garance Dore

Jenna Hipp finishes off a "mannequin hand" manicure with a glossy HIPPxRGB topcoat. Photography by Garance Dore

“It’s time for the French manicure to move over,” says green celebrity nail stylist Jenna Hipp. “The fully nude nail is the freshly updated, professional neutral nail.” After consistent requests for neutrals on Hollywood sets, Hipp paired with RGB to create a range of formaldehyde-free foundation lacquers (HIPPxRGB Nail Foundation collection) from pale to dark that mimic their makeup counterpart and provide the ultimate in coverage and chicness. After all, “choosing the right color for your skin tone minimizes redness, elongates the hand, conceals imperfections and maximizes wearability by blending with all wardrobe and accessories.”

To select that perfect shade, Hipp recommends taking a cosmetic approach. “For skin to ‘pop’ and to distract from redness and imperfections, grab your concealer and choose a nail polish shade that closely matches it,” she says. Likewise, for the “mannequin hand” effect, match your favorite foundation. Or, simply paint each nail a different nude hue and compare them by holding the hand at eye level in natural light, asking, “which color makes the skin tone look the most complimented and even?”

The perfect flesh tone makes hands appear fresh and young, says the expert, while the wrong one will look lackluster and ashy. “Medium and dark skin tones have more options to choose from, but that doesn’t mean they’re in the clear. Stay away from anything with yellow as well as pinky nudes—opt for peachy tones.”

Fortunately, Hipp and RGB have also recently debuted sheer Nail Tints, to be mixed and layered with the foundations for ultra-matchy results. For example, Lea Michelle wears F2 (in the foundation range) topped with Nail Tint T1 to create glossy dimension; Michelle Williams went with T1 over F1 for the Golden Globes. Cindy Crawford is a peachy F2, but she loves F1 because it makes her skin appear more tan. And Zoe Saldana could wear F3, but she opts for F2 because it’s “gorgeous on her toes.”

The importance of a well-manicured set of digits cannot be undermined. “Your hands say more than you think. The polish you choose—or don’t choose—to wear can give off a number of impressions.” To add a dash of fun to a classic nude nail, Hipp suggests adding a swipe of pastel to the tip or a cream moon atop a nude base. But at its most basic, a fleshy mani makes one feel “accomplished, fancy even,” says Hipp. And although it’s popular on runways from Jason Wu to Monique Lhuillier, “it’s not a fleeting trend worn by celebrities—it’s the nail of the everyday woman. Rich or poor, no matter the race or ethnicity, nude is gorgeous on anyone, anytime.”