We all love pastels in the summer, but traditional polishes often don't pack the fashion-forward punch that we crave. But opaque pastel nail polishes offer that mod feel while also accentuating some of the season’s best fashion trends (white Birkenstocks, anyone?). Think of the dense stunners, which we’ve seen both on runways (including Badgley Mischka and Marchesa) and the red carpet, as candy-colored nails for grownups. An adult-looking pastel manicure is surprisingly easy to master. Just follow the expert advice from InStyle’s Executive Editor Amy Synnott:
Why I Love Opaque Pastel Polish ...
1. It’s light and summery. Nothing looks better with a pair of crisp white jeans than a splash of milky pink or lavender polish.
2. But not too cutesy. Minty green, periwinkle blue, Palm Beach coral … Under normal circumstances, these hues might seem unabashedly girlie. But when the finishes are as opaque as chalk, the effect is eye-catching and mod, like a white A-line mini for your nails (see Emma Roberts's nails, above).
3. The color pops against every skin tone. Unlike, say, a layer of my usual springtime staple, Essie Mademoiselle ($9; essie.com), these vibrant hues won’t get all coy once they hit your nail bed. What you see in the bottle is what you get on your nails, and these bold pastels demand to be noticed.
For more features like this, pick up the July issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download now.
1. Choose Your Color: Try a Lilac
Chanel's Le Vernis in Sweet Lilac ($27; chanel.com), provides a fresh, mod look for your digits.
2. Choose Your Color: Try a Sky Blue
Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear in Wetsuit ($3; at drugstores) brings to mind the crystal blue-tinged waters of a tropical vacation.
3. Choose Your Color: Try a Mint
Mint shades have always been popular, but Jamberry’s version (Nail Lacquer in Hint of Mint, $15; jamberrynails.net) has an added pop with a hint of summer-appropriate turquoise.
4. Choose Your Color: Try a Tangelo
While orange, one of last summer’s hottest colors, may be a bold pick, the hue (Essie Nail Lacquer in Serial Shopper, $8.50; essie.com) is universally flattering.
5. Choose Your Color: Try a Cornflower Blue
Nails Inc.’s pretty Regents Place polish ($14; macys.com) is part of the brand’s new Gel Effect line, which allows you the long-lasting, no-chip finish of a gel without its hefty price tag or potentially hazardous UV lamp.
7. Prime the Canvas
Opaque polish highlights every bump and groove in your nail bed, so it’s a good idea to buff (Sally Beauty Design 4-Way Buffing Wands, $3 each; sallybeauty.com) before applying any color. This will also help the polish go on more smoothly.
8. Add a Matte Cushion
9. Seal the Deal
Finish off with a quick-dry top coat (Seche Vite Dry-Fast Top Coat, $8; sallybeauty.com). Now settle in for an episode of The Bachelorette-and don’t even think about reaching for that bag of Skinny Pop.