Reality Check: Neon Nails

Wary of eye-popping polishes? Never fear: We have pointers for wearing bright shades at any age and for all occasions.

By Deanna Pai • Beauty/Fashion Assistant
milly nails backstage image
Backstage at the Milly Spring/Summer 2012 show.
Photograph: Courtesy of CND

Fuchsia! Electric blue! Canary yellow! Bold colors were omnipresent last week during New York Spring 2012 Fashion Week. At the Milly show, nail artists combined three CND Colours: Electric Orange plus Yellow Bicycle plus Brilliant White ($9 each; Click to Buy) to create one shocking (only-for-the-runway) citrus shade.

Okay, so blindingly bright hues look great on the runway, but in real life? You needn't worry. “Neon polish is actually illegal to produce in the US,” says Jan Arnold, co-founder and creative director of CND Colours. “So if you see a neon shade in the store, it’s imported—or your polish hue is just really bright, not a true neon, making it easier to pull off.” Good to know. But if you're still hesitant about trying loud lacquer, heed these tips:

1. No need to dive in headfirst: CND has a new "Effects" top coat called “Pigments,” which amps up the polish you're wear beneath it. Baby pink becomes hot pink; lavendar morphs into grape. $8; Click to Buy

2. If taking baby steps is more your style, try one coat of a sheer bright, like Deborah Lippmann Nail Lacquer in Yellow Brick Road ($16; Click to Buy). It adds a pop of color that's less in-your-face and more just-keeping-pace with what's in style.

3. Keep your nails short. Long, talon-like shapes were popular on the runway, but they are rarely (if ever) a practical idea for daily wear.

Ready to go whole hog? Our favorites: OPI Brights! in Teal the Cows Come Home ($8; Click to Buy), a deep teal-blue and Deborah Lippmann nail lacquer in I Know What Boys Like ($16; Click to Buy), a lavender-tinged periwinkle

Take other fall beauty trends for a test drive with our 6 Fall Makeup Dos and Don'ts.

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First Published September 16, 2011

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