Pastel nail polish has such a bad rep: every excuse in the book has been used to avoid them. From “they wash me out; I’m too pale” to “they’re kinda boring,” we’ve heard it all and we still don’t believe you. Every woman, and possibly even Jared Leto, can pull off pastel nail polish. Like spring transitioning into summer, pastels are great way to transition your nail wardrobe from the moody shades of winter into the bright neons of summer.
However, we hear your issues, and we get it. Pastels do present some unique challenges. Most pastels bring up memories of chalky, streaky formulas that only look good for a day. But those days are gone! As you probably saw on our recent post, today’s pastels are a little brighter, more saturated, and much more playful.
The first thing to do is to update your basecoat. A clear basecoat isn’t going to do you any favors. Using a milky base coat, such as Akay’s Under Garment, which will help your pastel shade come to life. You can use an opaque white nail polish as well, but this will alter and brighten the shade of polish.
If you’re on the darker side or have a lot of yellow in your skin, avoid pastel shades with white undertones. A grey or beige undertone looks best; if you choose a shade that is too white-based for your skin tone; it’s going to give you that chalky, washed out look we just hated on. If you’re on the pale side, opt for more richly pigmented pastels.
Once you’ve got your shade choices locked down, practice patience. The biggest challenge with applying pastel polishes is overworking it: going back and constantly trying to fix any streaks or sheerness. This is part of the why you’ll want that milky base coat; it will really solve half this problem. After that, get your first layer on and let it dry completely before applying another coat.
Once you finish your lacquer application, decide how you want to finish it off. Matte topcoats work well with pastel shades, but if you think the color still needs to be jazzed up, finish off with a jelly. Jellies are basically clear polishes with a tint; layering it over your pastel shade gives it an extra pop by deepening the shade so it stands out without losing its subtlety.
– Bren Lee Gomez