Black Nail Polish: Yea or Nay?


I painted my nails black last night, which used to be my favorite nail hue. But as I look at my manicured fingers, they suddenly feel too...done. Which lead me to question: are black nails over? I’ve been on the goth nail train since early in high school (and now I've probably gone through 15 bottles) but maybe these 10 years of riding the line between edgy and chic was all black nails could do for me before sinking to the back into the depths of my polish self as just another of the infinite shade options.

This could mark a major turning point in my personal style development—an entire chapter in my memoirs—or possibly be just a passing thought. Maybe I’ll change my mind next week after going the Ballet Slippers route for a few days.

What say ye readers? Am I being nuts, or has the dark shade run its course? And if not black polish, then to which vernis should I turn to fill its void? Suggestions and reassuring thoughts are much appreciated.

—Elizabeth Brockway

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Jess

    I love and will always love black nails. I even wore black on my nails for my wedding day with a blush pink accent nail!

  • Marloes

    relax, it'll pass. Just use red polish now. When it feels right, you can always paint them black again. Its because its spring time now. Really, i had the ssame thing yesterday with my fav OPI polish Lincolnpark after dark. Im now really happy with Essie's cute as a button.

  • lolauren

    I don't like black but a deep forest green (I like Essie's Stylenomics) or a deep raisin purple give me that dark feel without being too harsh

    • lucinda veen

      I love Stylenomics! It has a perfect formula, too.

  • JenniferCN


  • Tiffvies

    I have recently read that white nails are the new black. They are replacing the black nail trend. Maybe you should try the complete opposite and go white?

    • ITGElizabeth

      admittedly, that is the only shade I think I haven't tried. Do you have a specific polish suggestion? I feel like white is the most unexpectedly complicated color to pick (just try painting your apartment)

      • Laura

        Essie blanc is my go-to white polish. Sometimes it takes 3 coats, but it's a beautiful, true opaque white!

        • Tiffvies

          I have to agree with Laura, Essie blanc is my go-to as well.

      • mrslfalgout

        marshmallow by essie is great! It's white without looking like you painted your nails with white out.

      • Jen

        I wanted a really stark and bold white (re: Cassie, Vanessa Hudgens) which is harder to find than you would think, and I wound up trying American Apparel's and love it. It's a bit streaky but it's the brightest I've tried!

      • Jen

        American Apparel's white polish is, surprisingly, the best. It's the brightest, stark white out there (re: Cassie, Vanessa Hudgens)!

      • monica

        China Glaze "white on white". Two coats yields a perfect white.

      • Sarah Awan

        Revlon White on White is surprisingly good. It's like Essie Blanc but without the puttyness look.

      • Becca

        Zoya's Ginessa is a nice non-Wite-Out alternative; it has a beautiful subtle shimmer, makes your fingers look really long, and lasts longer on the nails than Essie's Blanc.

    • Sharareh

      How does one avoid to appear like if you just played around with Tipp-Ex?

  • ITGElizabeth

    I'm kind of a sucker for Essie nail polishes-- between the texture, the brush, the price, the insane amounts of shades to choose from--so for me, I like to try Poor Li'l Rich Girl (kind of an amazing name) for a almost black with red undertones, Bordeaux for a more wine-ish red, or Wicked, which is always a salon staple.

    • Sarrie

      Wicked, Poor lil rich girl are exactly my suggestions as well. Also Bourdoux from OPI is real nice as well.

    • Amber Hunter

      Carry On is a gorgeous plummy color that looks black in certain lights! One of my absolute favorites from them.

    • Pink Pamalamma

      I was going to suggest Wicked. Love it!

  • ITGElizabeth

    Interesting-- do you a mauve polish suggestion? I'm game to try anything!

    • Jane T.

      I really like the color Dramatic from Sephora's Formula X line. It's somewhere between sheer and opaque, so it's a more interesting finish for mauve. Here's a link:

    • disorderedregion

      Meh, I haven't found the perfect shade yet. Lady Like by Essie is close, maybe? It needs to be like; purple enough without being so dark as to actually read purple, and darker than pastel with a very dusty pink/greyed down undertone. Too pink and it goes preppy,though. When I find it I'll report back.

      • Lauren

        Chanel Paradoxal is an earthy grey with a fine lilac shimmer. Very unique. Or you could mix sand tropez with lilacism for a custom essie shade

    • Sarah Awan

      Am currently wearing Essie Smokin' Hot as a transition from the usual black shades. It's dark enough, the perfect go-between.

    • Jess

      Julep in Toni is a great deep, smokey mauve! Similar would be Essie Merino Cool

    • Teckie

      OPI Java Mauve-A Is my favorite mauve. For a more purple-y option, Essie Angora Cardi is good.

  • ITGElizabeth

    Pincess Sausagefiners. That's amazing

  • Sarah

    I'm always one for Essie's Wicked polish but lately I've been gravitating to classic red again. That being said I don't think a good dark wine/maroon will ever go out of style.

  • Sarah @ 702 Park Project

    Lately I've been going with navy and I love it! Because I'm so fair, black looks incredibly harsh on me. Navy has just enough light in it that it looks chic without making the rest of me look ghostly! ;) OPI Road House Blues is my favorite!

    • Nina

      Navy is beautiful! I'm really fair too, and Chanel's Blue Satin looks awesome on my nails. That, or Rouge Noir, love those almost black colors. I had Black Satin too once, but never used it as I couldn't handle the goth associations.

  • ITGElizabeth

    Oh heyyyyyyy Charlotte!

  • Julie

    Yay still. Especially with a super shiny topcoat. I think dark colors that almost look black are great because at an angle, it looks like you are really wear a color, and then straight on, it looks black. For a "white" option, I wear RGB's Dove which is a VERY pale grey, but based on my skin tone, it comes across as a white.

  • i2uthanne

    I agree that black nail polish are 'over' for now. However, I think matte black nail polish still looks nice, like the Knock Out brand. The matte makes it less harsh.

    • ITGElizabeth

      I agree-- the matte top coat helps tone it down a bit. I painted that over what I was already wearing (Essie Licorice) and it seemed more manageable against my first knuckle rings

    • mlle p

      I just did my nails yesterday with OPI's matte black after a long time of no black. As an opposite direction, Revlon's Elegant is the same color as my skin so it looks a bit like having mannequin hands - odd but I like it.

    • kneelbeforetigers

      YES! The Knock Out black (aka the Karen O Matte) is amazing... it looks so chic on nails!

  • Francesca Rizzo

    Personally I love a good black, it makes me feel totally badass. I like to make it feel new by using a black effect polish instead of just black- I have a black and gold liquid sand by OPI and a black Latex Finish by Julep and those are two of my favorite polishes.

  • Isabel

    Yes to black nails, always. Works with pretty much everything, just adds a little bit of edge/fashion/call it what you will. I like that its not 'pretty', I do it because I want to, not to look good (not that it doesn't look good, it can do both).

  • Bolly

    They can be very chic, but the polish HAS to be perfect and your nails and cuticles HAVE to be perfect, otherwise you look like you did em in detention with a sharpie while thinking about how no one understands you. The same goes for any dark polish really IMO.

    • ITGElizabeth

      At least you understand me!

    • Belinda

      I agree - but the same goes for white polish. Whiteout hands? No thanks

  • Mara Ferreira

    Lately I've been wanting the complete opposite..nude nails! It's a little fresher but still has that cool vibe.

  • Dru

    Personally, I'll always love a black nail. Even though I only wear black these days as part of a gradient/galaxy look (I don't even care if it's so 2010 or whatever), it still pairs really well with most colours, I did a sort of French manicure last week with white polish and black tips, and it looked awesome until I broke a nail.

    But if it feels wrong to you, go with something else - grey or red maybe? I mostly favour navy blue or dark green, Dior's Blue Label has perfect formula and applies like a dream thanks to the brush.

  • Madeline M.

    I love dark hues on my nails! I recently thought this same thing last time I got my nails done. Instead of reaching for the black, I grabbed dark blues and dark grey hues. In darker lighting they come off as black but a closer look will show the true color! It's a nice subtle change up for myself for dark color polish, but I also love the look of nude and pale pink polishes!

    • ITGElizabeth

      Is there a darker blue/grey that you like? I've tried a few (I particularly like NARS 413 BLKR) but always want to try more!

      • Dru

        not the OC and this shade is not blue/grey, but if you're open to purple, try Purple Revolution, by Dior? I'm a little biased towards Dior right now - they may not have the widest shade selection, but what they do have, applies perfectly and looks like silk with two coats - the creme finishes, anyway. Some of their older limited edition stuff was great, too - they had the Rock Coat, which was a great way to darken literally any polish without turning it black.

        (also the brush is a huge factor, not making mistakes is important with dark polishes and their brush shape helps me not deposit colour in my cuticles or anywhere else I don't want it)

      • RJ

        OPI Incognito in Sausilito is an amazing Navy -- throw on some fingerless fur gloves with it and you'll feel like a Russian supermodel

        • murt

          This one is my favourite.

      • kneelbeforetigers

        NARS has a few great greys!

  • M

    Black nails forever ;) However, my alternative for a "softer" black is a deep plum colour by Essie, the "Luxedo"!

  • Amy McDowell

    Alway yea! Black is classic and never goes out of style!

  • lucinda veen

    Some of my favorite alternatives to black:

    Dark cobalt: OPI Eurso Euro
    Navy: Butter London Royal Navy
    Dark forest green: Essie Stylenomics
    Dark green with gold and teal glitter: Essie Butter London
    Dark purple with a little shimmer (almost looks metallic, like Cadbury's wrappers): Essie Sexy Divide

  • Amanda Raponi

    I'm really liking Chanel's Charivari, it's an almost black-purple from their spring collection. Otherwise, Rouge Noir is a staple for me.

  • KristenLyn

    I think if you can pull black off, go for it. I love how accessories look with it as well. Navy is always a nice backup too. Or "Dark Side of the Moon" by Deb Lippmann. I'm liking the new neutrals that are coming out. Give "Thrilling" a shot by Sephora brand. You might love it!

  • Char

    Navy blue :) not as extreme as black but very chic I think! xx

  • Katy

    I much prefer a dark green or navy over black. Black nails look silly on me; unless, of course, it's black and sparkly because that basically epitomizes my soul.

  • The Beauty Inbox

    Black is the new black - don't ever let the haters tell ya otherwise!

  • thebloginista

    I love black nails, I think they are classic & chic!

  • Sarrie

    I happen to be on the same page as you. I have a gothic edge to my style, wear mostly black (cant seem to help it). Anyhow, I recently came to your conclusion, and thought, hey, lets try a different color. I did, and it was terrible. For me, its very personal - my black or near black nail polish, I just get this pleasure and comfort from looking down and seeing that color on my nails. Anything else just rubs me the wrong way. What concerns me is, how am I supposed to wear black nails on my wedding day?? Well, I'll figure something out I'm sure:)
    As a stylist who encourages personal style rather than trend, I would say, go with your intuition and don't feel pressured to change something just because of trend. There is something to be said about having certain signature looks. When I look back at photos of my mom, she always had the same lip color palette thru out - I think thats kind of cool, it means you have an inner consistency and stability within you.

    • Misskitty

      Amen sister!

  • mmolly

    I think black is classic now, but that doesn't mean we don't get tired of the classics from time to time. What about gray? Still has an edge and is unexpected. Maybe it's the lighter, more mysterious sister to black?

    • ITGElizabeth

      I used to love this OPI sparkly grey called "My Private Jet" but I think a standard opaque might be the way to go. Do you like a dark grey or a lighter grey? What polish is your favorite?

      • Meryl

        This might be cliche, but I love Essie Chinchilly. It's a fantastic medium grey, looks great even on my fair skin, and compliments black, brown, or navy. I've tried other greys that have beige undertones, but they can clash. Chinchilly is the best neutral grey I've found. The creme formula is also a little more grown up than sparkles.

      • mmolly

        I really liked a Rescue Beauty Lounge gray. I think it is called Concrete but discontinued, I believe. And Marc Jacobs's Baby Jane is a great grayish beige.

  • overanalyzer

    Zoya has an amazing deep forest green creme shade. Might be called Hunter? Looks almost black in some lights. Amazing.

  • neha goyal

    black is always a yea but just for change (and a good one at it) is the oxblood hue on nails

    • ITGElizabeth

      I loooove oxblood. I keep trying to find the perfect pair of oxblood leather pants, but something about the crazy price has kept me from taking the plunge. Maybe nails are the more economical step!

  • ITGMackenzie

    You get me.


  • Sharareh

    While I like the idea of black nails... results just don't look pretty enough. Like with my olive skin tone, my hands always resemble more like something from a zombie movie

  • Harriet

    I was distracted by your great rings! Where are they from!

    • ITGElizabeth

      Thank you so much! Most of the rings on my right hand are from Catbird (which has an amazing collection of rings in a healthy array of prices) and the rest are "antique" rings given to me from my mom--either as a gift or ones she wore in her younger days :)

  • ITGElizabeth

    Zenon is an amazing reference. Protozoa was such a babe.

  • Erin Murray

    Love Love Black! Always a staple for me!

  • Katerina


  • Lauren

    I wouldn't wear black nail polish really, but it can sometimes look nice!

  • Lana

    Black will always reign

  • Masha


    Deborah Lippmann makes some amazing almost black polishes that have a very subtle color shimmer. My favorite is "Don't Tell Mama" which has a dark green shimmer. Your nails will look almost black, but the effect is less hardcore than straight up black polish. The shimmer is only really noticeable when your nails catch the light.

  • Susanna

    I am obsessed with my Zoya nail polish in Pepper. And I hate to be the person that names a nail polish color that was limited edition years ago but Essie's Blood Curdling is a great color too, very similar to Pepper.

  • lara

    I don't think black is OUT necessarily, but I feel you with being a little tired of it. there are so many amazing non-boring neutrals out there that can be edgy but still soft but still badass, naw'mean? I love Deborah Lippman 'Modern Love', Sephora Formula X Collection in 'Thrilling' and 'Supernatural', and Essie 'Demure Vixen', 'Ladylike', 'Jazz' and 'Master Plan'. I also realized I can recall way too many np's names off the top of my head

  • Heather P.

    I like black nails, but only in the dead of winter. It's when I feel my most "goth." That, and it doesn't seem to go with the brighter colors I wear during spring and summer. I wore it a lot this winter because it naturally matched all the black I was wearing anyway.

    Perhaps try a dark navy? I find that I tend towards that in the spring or summer months because while it's still dark, it's not SO dark.

  • Marcela

    I always go for an almost black polish, with a burgundy undertone - Wicked by Essie and Rouge Noir are both gorgeous. They look polished and chic, instead of full on goth, but still edgy (also, they go with every piece of jewelry I own and look great with any outfit, so deep burgundy really is the new black).

  • Emma Hager

    I've never actually done black nails, but I really like the look. It definitely looks done up and at this point reminds me of none other than Momager Kris Jenner, but hey, done up isn't always such a bad thing.

  • Kaelani

    I'm currently draining a bottle of OPI's Jade is the New Black. Perhaps there's something to the name?! Not as classic as black, or as neutral as mauve though.

  • murt

    I think the black looks really good on you actually. Goes well with your jewellry. On myself I prefer vampy shades like Chanel Rouge Noir or really dark navy blues like OPI incognito in sausalito.

    • ITGElizabeth

      Aw, shucks. Thank you!

  • Elizabeth

    I actually like a black nail from time to time. Balmain makes a super glossy black nail polish that stays put forever and is my all time favorite. I actually always thought black looked too goth but when I was gifted this polish I completely changed my mind. But for a day time color Essie's wicked en School Boy Blazer are great and of course the all time classic Lincoln park after dark.

  • Louise

    Single Ladies by Deborah Lippmann is a beautiful dark dark red similar to Essie Bordeaux

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    Nope, I love them. I usually go with an off black though!

  • Natalie

    I still love black nail varnish, but I am also really looking forward to spring so I've been more into pale colours at the moment! X

  • Chrissabella

    I personally find that black is such a classic colour and especially in the a/w month i'm really drawn to but now I'm really into bright pastel colours :)

  • Gabriela Zea Nadal

    I used to love it, until one morning I woke up and got scared by my own nail...

  • francescaconlin

    I personally love Wicked, Bourdoux, Berry Hard, Luxedo,and After School Boy Blazer if you're going to go the dark blue almost black route. But, if you still want to have something darker than Ballet Slippers (which is everything), then you could try Chinchilly, which is more of a fall than winter color (unlike black or the other ones aforementioned). Chinchilly or other dark grays are always a good option. I tend to change my polish color scheme based on the seasons and whether or not I have a dark or light color on my toes. So, since we're going into spring I'm slowly transitioning to lighter colors like Jazz, Candy Apple Mint, Lilacism, or for a darker purple, No More Film.

  • Catherine

    I never liked black nails, even way way way back in the day when they were every where. Well, I think I liked them in middle school, actually, but that was short-lived. It's funny because only very recently have I even started liking dark polishes at all on me and considering black. But I prefer more of a dark dark grey or olive or blue, etc, rather than actual black. I do like black nails against beige clothes, though, something about that combination gives the black a bit less of a dated feel

  • Clissa

    I honestly think that the black nail is still in, it's just now, it seems to call for embellishment instead of just plain black.

  • Amanda

    I usually go for China Glaze "Catwalk" instead of black, it's a dark grey just a pinch away from being black but it's still very chic.

  • twopaperhearts

    I was just thinking this very thing.

  • rebecca

    Yes I agree black is over. If u need a dark fix fill it with . A dark blue or green ish with shimmer or chrome finish... think naughty mermaid

  • unvanquished

    I always feel chic when I wear black nail polish. I also like super dark with a bit of shimmer.

  • rjt

    whenever I tire of black (and blackened purple/green/navy) I go to red. Not sparkley, not blue red, not orange red, RED. (fyi I like Essie's Really Red and OPI's Red Hot Ayers Rock)

  • Maria @SoNailicious

    Black nails are certainly in! Just look at the runways AW 2014 - it's all about dark hues or last year's Chanel show where all models wore Chanel Black Satin on their nails. Black is as classic as red or nude. It will never go out of fashion.

  • Nita

    At the moment, I am getting bored of black and dark nail polish because that's all I wore during the cold months. Since it is close to being spring I am yearning for some color on my fingertips. But I know I will fall back in love with my dark polishes once fall rolls around again.


  • Katie

    Black is chic and will always be chic. Besides red, it is the most classic nail color

  • Katie

    also navy nail polish is amazing

  • Sheena Elaine Magdaraog

    I have a dark complexion. I am not comfortable wearing black polish. I am always after the french tip or wear it as natural as possible. What nail polish brand do you use for French Tip?

  • Nici

    So i think, black is beautiful everytime. So with 13 or with 28 years. I like! :-)

  • Melissa Fowler

    Absolutely not. I love black nail polish but you have to feel totally in the mood for it. It can look very polish, glamorous and grown up. When I want to be dark but not that dark, I like Lincoln Park after Dark and Germanicure both by OPI

  • Jade Smith

    Black will neverrrr be over! A little goth love goes a long way to bring rock'n'roll back.

  • Hailey Dash

    Black nail polish can be great depending on the outfit and event (and even the person wearing it). But know when to paint it on, sometimes it can be a little mainstream and gothic!

  • Mathilde

    Love it !!
    Specially on short nails
    Kisses from france

    See you

    Mathilde *

  • kat

    black is the best

  • Stef

    I dont do black anymore either! I stick with a deep, deep plum colour!

  • Maria

    I've been doing a thick French nail black manicure and love it.

  • Karina Alice

    YEA! I love it but I use more nude og red now.

  • Teckie

    I Brake for Manicures by OPI is my favorite off-black. True black nail polish is terribly unflattering, in my opinion - especially if you aren't a very seasoned nail painter. I think the darker shades will hang around a while as long as they complement the wearer's skin-tone.

  • Eliza

    I still love black--it does look more obvious than a lighter color, but it's fun-obvious, like bright red or nail art. That being said, I've turned the color of Casper this winter and it looks kind of harsh on my skin, so I started using a semi-matte medium-gray polish (something drugstore, Revlon maybe?) and I love it.

  • The Beauty Break

    Definitely still a classic. I think I'll wear black nail polish till the end of days (how dramatic)! But really, my top three nail polish colors have to be: red, nude and black, of course!

    The Beauty Break

  • Kurohana

    i like black nails but when i do black nails it just seems to juvenile and i always think to myself grow up. but i do like the OPI Designer Series Mystery its a dark violet with diamond shimmer or so the website description says .

  • CK

    Black is cute. But for now, Dior Nail Glow.

  • nerd girl 5000

    I am totally done with black polish. This summer I'm rocking light light pink--Mademoiselle by essie (sometimes mix it up with Ballet Slippers). It feels...refreshing.

  • Molly

    Black nail polish is my favourite and I think it suits all woman. It is an addition to me because I want to put it on at all times! Even when I'm low on money I almost can't bare to see it off my nails

  • Anastasia Polosina

    For me absolute black is out of date. I love "almost black"dark colors instead - like Carry On shade by Essie. Looks chic and not so radical!

  • savannah1234

    i love black nail polish its my favorite color tbh i dont think it matters the way u do your nails but if it matters to u then black is the best in my opinion and im not a goth person either i just like the way the black goes with my skin tone

  • Maryam

    Seriously back in time i used to buy any nail polish color except for black. But once i tried my friend's black nail polish and i fall in love with it. Now i can just put on black or dark night black nail polish and never get bored of it. "Once you go black you never go back"

  • AlexTennyson

    Much better than this, don't you think?

  • Cleo Butterfield

    I love black nails eventhough my skins very pale, I feel sexy and cute wearing black nail polish.