One of my favorite places in the world is a nail salon! Yes, it sounds odd. But I absolutely love the array of nail polish bottles that greet you neatly lined up in a rainbow myriad. It truly takes you back to the days of opening a box of 64 crayons…However, with so many shades to choose from, it can be bewildering. This article features nail color ideas and the best nail colors to flatter your hands.

If you are over 40 you will have noticed the change in the variety of nail polish colors. Now nail fashion in itself is its own industry created by women of all ages being drawn to wearing the latest fashionable manicure.

Every woman should indulge in this inexpensive treat and enjoy the selection process especially since there are now glittery, shimmery, metallic even jewel-encrusted versions of your favorite color polish.

Nail trends are constantly changing and you don’t paint your nails just to match an outfit; they have become the fashion accessory of the ensemble. Wearers no longer have to stick within the boundaries of seasons; nail polish now is worn to enhance the tone of your skin as well as your beauty and nothing more.

What nail colors to use and trends to follow over 40

When it comes to caring and having fun with your nails, age sets no boundaries.

However, there are some important things to remember.

  • Pay attention to nailcare. You may like to consult this previous article on how to care for your nails.
  • Also consider carefully the color you choose. Think of it this way; choosing a nail color is like choosing a lipstick.
  • I recommend keeping your nails short and in a squarish oval shape – “squoval” – in order to keep your hands looking youthful.
  • I have to mention this, even though I have been known to do this, but wearing false acrylic nails with an old-fashion manicure really can make you look more outdated and older than you think or feel. It is classic but it is almost like having an old 1950’s VW in a society that only drives Audi’s.

Here are my top tips to following the latest nail trends

1. A youthful shade of red

How to choose the right nail color and avoid "Old Lady" hands |

The right type of red is a youthful shade you can pick. Pay attention to the following:

  • Bright orange-red nails draw attention to your manicure rather than to your hands.
  • Burgundy, plum and even browns are versatile for day-night combinations.
  • Go for shades that are more orange based, rather than blue based. I can hear you saying – but how do I tell which is blue based and which is orange based? Put the two bottles together – you will see it immediately.

Irena (above) opts for a flattering orange-red and keeps her nails short.

2. Beware of the blues when choosing the best nail color

As you get older, your skin is more likely to be showing your bluish veins. I suggest avoiding pale or cool tones such as blues and greens or blue-based reds and plums. These will emphasize any veins that are visible.

3. Nude nail color: reliable neutrals

A nude polish has anti-aging power and every woman should have a go-to nude polish. Nudes, baby pinks and light whites will make stubby fingers elongated. My best advice for picking your staple colour is to pair it with your foundation colour.

If you have light skin, choose shades of white, champagne, nude or sand. If you have darker toned skin, choose shades of cocoa, cappuccino, taupe or coffee. Chocolate and shades of grayish-brown are youthful and trendy, but be wary of dark browns as they can be very harsh and unforgiving.

4. Good nail colors: Beware of the dark

As we age, brown spots appear on our fingers due to exposure to the sun’s UV rays, so it’s no wonder your hands are extra susceptible. Fall and winter season trends bring deep and dark browns, blacks and purples.

They look fabulous on short nails but they can emphasize brown undertones and your spots. Try a cranberry or burnt creamy plums, deep ambers or blood reds.

If you still have youthful looking hands I personally love Navy, or moody blues and greens. They are bold and will illuminate your skin in a beautiful way without the harshness of black.

5. Pink nail polish colors

There’s a pink for every outfit and occasion. If your hands are not your favorite feature, pick bright pinks. They will draw attention to your nail rather than your finger. For longer or slimmer fingers, I recommend light and soft shades of pink (especially baby pink).

6. Nail color ideas: shimmer shades

Like lipstick or eyeshadow shopping, it pays to avoid chunky glitter nail polish. However, that doesn’t mean you miss out on all the fun.

Try a touch of metallic or shimmer. I absolutely love the way metallic shades catch the light – it adds intrigue. If you are anything like me, where your work outfit consists of dark colors or a monotone palette, a little metallic nail polish will add a feminine touch to your structured look.

7. Nail polish colors to avoid

Yellow nail polish can make your hands look swallow and sickly and bring out the dryness and detail of your hands. If you still have youthful hands, you can wear bright yellow; otherwise I suggest you stick to glamorous gold.

Best nail varnish brands when choosing your nail colors

Now that you are thinking about the best nail varnish shades for you, how about the brands to choose? You don’t want to go to the trouble of painting your nails, only for the polish to chip or flake the next day. The brands below are recommended for their longevity.

1. butter LONDON

With shock-resistant polymer technology as well as bamboo extract to keep your nails in good condition, butter LONDON has great reviews from women who say the color doesn’t chip, fade or peel.

butter LONDON Patent Shine 10X Nail Lacquer

2. Chanel

Chanel nail color is iconic. Opt for a glamorous shade such as a deep red or burgundy, or try an everyday nude. Reviewers say it is worth the price tag as it stays on and is easy to apply.

Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour |

Chanel Le Vernis Long Wear Nail Colour

3. CND

CND is infused with Vitamin E and jojoba to help to condition your nails. The formula should last for 7 days.

CND Vinylux Long Wear Nail Polish |

CND Vinylux Long Wear Nail Polish

4. Deborah Lippman

Deborah Lippman gives the look and feel of a gel polish. Reviewers say it looks like a salon-grade polish with just two coats.

Deborah Lippman Spring Gel Lab Pro Nail Color |

Deborah Lippman Spring Gel Lab Pro Nail Color

5. Dior

Dior nail lacquer is another iconic choice for you, which provides a glass-like shine. Wearers say it glides on easily, lasts a long time and the brush makes application easy.

Dior Vernis Gel Shine & Long Wear Nail Lacquer |

Dior Vernis Gel Shine & Long Wear Nail Lacquer

6. essie

essie is a budget-friendly option with plenty of rave reviews. Wearers say they love the colors and that the polish lasts at least three days before starting to chip.

essie Glossy Shine Nail Polish |

essie Glossy Shine Nail Polish

7. OPI

OPI is a great option if you like a polish which creates a shine.

OPI Infinite Shine Long-Wear Lacquer |

OPI Infinite Shine Long-Wear Lacquer

8. Revlon

Revlon could be a good choice for you if you’re looking for a well-reviewed drugstore polish. The Gel Envy range looks like a salon varnish.

Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy Longwear Nail Polish |

Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy Longwear Nail Polish

9. Sally Hansen

Sally Hansen is another budget option for you. Reviewers say that while the formula looks a little watery, when you apply two coats, you get a rich, long-lasting color.

Sally Hansen Good. Kind. Pure Vegan Nail Polish |

Sally Hansen Good. Kind. Pure Vegan Nail Polish

10. Smith & Cult

Smith & Cult isn’t one of the big, well-known brands, but it does have a stylish bottle which should sit well on your dressing table. Plus, what is inside the bottle provides vibrant, long-lasting color.

Smith & Cult Metallic Nail Polish |

Smith & Cult Metallic Nail Polish

What are your thoughts on painting your nails? What are your favorite nail color ideas and brands? When it comes to nail colors do you like to go bright, neutral or prefer unpolished nails?

Continue reading:

  1. How To Care For Your Nails And Do A Manicure At Home
  2. Pamper Yourself At Home: 13 Self Pampering Ideas When You Can’t Get To The Spa
  3. Best Handcream For Women Over 40 For Super Soft Hands
How to choose the right nail color and avoid "Old Lady" hands |

Feature image by BiraBiro


Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. An alumni of the School of Color and Design, she is devoted to empowering women of any age to look and feel their best. Read more about Sylvia and 40+style on this page.

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