Naked—Not Bare—Nails


Unlike extravagant nail art or indulgent professional gels, maintaining clean nails can feel like a rigorously hygienic exercise. They're manicured but unfussy. Even if they're not bare, they're always less-than-glaringly polished. At minimum, they’re nicely filed and maybe buffed. The woman who embraces this nail trend isn't someone who doesn't care about her manicure—she just cares more about the 'care' side of 'nail care' and how that can be a wearable look.

And like the women who wear them, there are variations consider here. A spectrum of stark to covered, as follows:

First, absolutely nothing but a nourishing cuticle oil like Essie’s Apricot Cuticle Oil. You can go without polish, but you shouldn't go without first checking that your nail beds are properly moisturized.

Next, the obvious choice is a single clear coat. Consider Sally Hansen's Hard As Nails for a one-two strengthening punch. Or, No. 7 Gel Finish, which can be worn alone.

Then comes the natural and subdued hues: Chanel’s 659 Beige Pur is a perfectly fleshy and pinkish nude; Essie’s Allure leaves a translucent, mother-of-pearl-like film.

And lastly, the pristine white trend still looks sophisticated without feeling overdone. A great option is Nars Écume which provides thick, opaque whiteout.

Wherever you settle, the overall theme of naked nails is one of restrained elegance—and a reminder that everyone looks better when they're wearing a little less.

—Alexis Cheung

Photographed by Tom Newton.