How to Find Your Signature Nail Polish - Cupcakes & Cashmere

How to Find Your Signature Nail Polish

And why I can't get enough of this reddish-orange hue.
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For years, one of my favorite weekend beauty rituals was picking out my next nail polish color. I embraced pretty much everything, with the exception of anything shimmery. I was game for muted aquas, oranges, poppy-pinks, the darkest purples—I almost prided myself on switching it up. About six months ago, I painted my nails a bright orange-red, and the entire week, I kept looking at my nails, admiring the color. While a darker red can feel too serious and heavy in summer months, the orange-ish hue had a fashion-forward feel to it, without taking itself too seriously. I almost dreaded having to change it when it grew out, so each week, I repainted my nails in the exact same shade, thinking the following week I'd switch it up. Six months later, and Essie's 'Flashed' is the only color I've worn.  

It may seem like a really small thing, but finding a signature nail polish is one step towards being that girl who has a go-to perfume, a killer tailored white button-down, and perfectly refined taste. While I love to experiment with new styles and beauty products, the older I get, the more I appreciate having a few go-tos that ground my style so I'm not constantly switching from thing to thing. Having a signature shade puts across a certain vibe that you know your style so well, you don't need to stray from it. Plus, it's one less thing to think about.

For you, your signature color may be completely different (Leslie's partial to Essie 'Bordeaux' in fall and 'Sheer Fantasy' in summer). If you have a shade you're really drawn to and looks good with your coloring, consider making it your signature color. At the end of the day, it's a nail polish—you don't have to commit to it for life—but if you find the right shade, you'll never get sick of it. Below are some of my friends's signature nail polishes, as well as a short Q&A about some of my other nail preferences:

Emily: Essie 'Flashed'
Cristina: OPI 'Over the Taupe'
Leslie: Essie 'Bordeaux' and 'Sheer Fantasy'
Brooke: Essie 'Hip-Anema'
Paige: Essie 'Wicked'
Dorianne: Essie 'BBF Best Boyfriend'
Phoebe: Essie 'Sand Tropez' and 'Head Mistress'
Hilary: Essie 'Ballet Slippers'
Rachel: Essie 'Snap Happy'
Katherine: Essie 'Urban Jungle'

P.S., This isn't sponsored—we all just happened to pick Essie (except for Cristina!).

Signature Nail Polish Hero

How do you recommend finding a signature shade?
Think of the colors that are flattering and you're already drawn to. Chances are, you've worn your signature shade before, so think back to the times you've had your nails done and garnered compliments, or looked down at your hands and thought "My nails look so pretty!" Then narrow it down to your top two—maybe a good, deep burgundy and the palest pink. Try each of those for a week and see which you're most drawn to. (If you get bored, you can always switch it up.) Before finding Essie's 'Flashed,' I was always between Essie 'Topless and Barefoot' and OPI 'Lincoln Park After Dark.' The nude felt too subtle to commit to, and while I absolutely love the dark, it felt too dramatic in the dead of July. The bright poppy 'Flashed' is just right.

Do you always get a matching pedicure or switch up the color?
I do alternate on my pedicure, which doesn't feel as necessary to keep cohesive. I usually go for one of three shades: a vamp, a good nude, or a bright poppy color.

Do you get your nails done or do them yourself?
Because I have current back issues that make it difficult for me to give myself pedicures, I go in for a professional mani-pedi every two weeks, since that's how long my pedicure is able to last. Every other week, I remove and repaint the polish on my fingers.

When you get them done, what kind of shape do you request?
I don't like having long nails (especially with a noticeable polish), so I always request "Oval and very short."

Do you cut or push back cuticles?
I cut when I do it myself, and I make sure to go to reputable nail salons if I'm going to ask them to do the same.

What top coat do you use?
I alternate between the Seche Vite Top CoatEssie Top Coat, and Sally Hansen Top Coat (I find that they all work equally well).

Shop the polishes in this post:

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I'd love to hear: What's your go-to nail shade? Let me know in the comments, below!