Like neon on your nails? Actually, no, you probably don't. You see, true neon pigments are hard to come by as they are not approved for cosmetic use by the FDA. Interesting, right? So your average "neon" traffic-cone orange polish, although no less skin-tone flattering (as all ultra bright polish tends to be), is probably a pretender. This doesn’t mean you can’t find the real deal, but the pigments' “contaminant” label means it’s probably a good idea to find a way to cheat the look. So…
The Best Bright Shimmer
Adding a bit of shimmer to polish can help lift a flat finish closer into neon territory. With just a bit of luster, Salon Perfect Fired Up Fuchsia is your go-to if you’re not quite on board the glitter train. But if you’re looking for something with a more obvious glint, give Deborah Lippmann Makin’ Whoopee (awesome name) a try. And if glitter polish is like crack to you (I’m right there with you, despite the serious hate that the wannabe fairy dust gets), you need Formula X Hyped for your collection. The bold hue plus silver glitter specks is amazing.
Not Quite Neon, But Bright and Bold
But maybe you don’t want any shimmer at all; you’re only interested in adding one level of tackiness to your hands. In that case, try a bold tone that isn’t quite incandescent. Essie’s I’m Addicted is a great not-quite-turquoise option. Or if you’re looking for more traditional shades, Color Club Jackie Oh! or Koo Koo Cachoo are a great pink and orange, respectively.
If you want to go bold but don’t want to blind people in the process, try pastel neons, like Floss Gloss’ Bikini Coral or Wavepool. And if you’re still looking to go lighter, pick up Ricky Color in Hudson Valley Getaway for a light, seafoam green, or Night at Stalkhouse for a blush pink.
Best Yellows & Greens
These are the hardest colors to pull off—and for polish formulators to make. Essie herself even said yellow is very difficult to wear. They can easily make you look slightly jaundiced—but if you’re not up for a nail challenge, then neon-esque polish was probably never your thing in the first place. American Apparel’s Neon Green and Neon Yellow are great chalkier polishes that provide full and bright coverage (no dirty under-nails peaking through). If you’re looking for a real green apple nail, Color Club’s The Lime Starts Here is it. For yellow, try Floss Gloss’ Con Limon. And if you want something less citrusy and more minty, try Salon Perfect’s Loopy Lime (OK, so the name is sticking with the lime theme, but we're talking color). But for that real ugly-pretty vibe that most people won’t understand but you know is great, it’s all about Salon Perfect’s Yowza Yellow.
*Bonus* The Best Brand For Real Neon Pigments
If you’re looking for the true neons that will make your fingers look like they’re permanently under a black light (in an awesome way), Face Stockholm is for you. Hot Guava (58) and Hot Watermelon (140) are personal favorites, but Safety Vest (68) or Petunia Pink (116) are also necessary to complete your neon collection. Contaminant classifications be damned! ...Sometimes!