As the beauty industry shifts to meet the demands of an ever-growing audience, it’s become clear that there’s no right way to play with makeup. Whether your goal is to blend in or stand out, you write the rules when it comes to crafting your look — which is a far cry from decades ago, when an emphasis on all things ladylike, prim, and proper came with a series of rigid directives. For example, matching your lip color to your nails was considered a surefire sign of style for years.
Nowadays, the way your lips and nails match or clash is up to you, whether you want to achieve that throwback effect or find a complementary hue to make your signature shade really pop. Best of all, there are a growing number of clean nail polish brands creating non-toxic options in an endless array of colors so that you can achieve any effect. Here, using a few clean lip colors from our lipstick collections, we’ve created a guide to expanding your palette so you can have a non-toxic nail shade for every mood.
What is Clean Nail Polish?
You may have noticed a number of nail polishes that are labeled as “5-free,” “7-free,” “10-free” and so on, referring to the number of harmful ingredients that have been left out of the formula. There are no regulations that specify exactly which ingredients must be left out in order to use this terminology, but as long as your nail polish doesn’t have any formaldehyde, toluene or dibutyl phthalate, you’re on the right track. While those three ingredients were traditionally added in order to strengthen the polish and make it longer lasting, they’ve since been found to be harmful and linked to numerous health issues.
Each brand selected below has eliminated them from their formulas, in addition to a variety of additional allergens, irritants and carcinogens — which means that even if you intentionally choose a polish that clashes with your lipstick, you can rest assured that it’s perfectly aligned when it comes to contributing to a clean (and cruelty-free) beauty routine.
MINERALIST Hydra-Smoothing Lipstick in Integrity
Integrity is a rich, chocolatey shade that looks incredible on a variety of skin tones. If you’re looking for a nail color that replicates that hue, Sundays’ vegan, cruelty-free No.19 boasts the color of “aged red wine.” Mineralized, a speckled terracotta polish by Cirque Colors, also plays in the same earthen world, despite its pale tone. Of course, if you want a jolt of color that contrasts with deep brown, try going bold with Jin Soon’s Pop Orange, an electrified spin on the citrus shade.
STATEMENT Matte Liquid Lipstick in Shameless
The Bright, Barbie-style neon pink of our Shameless lipstick looks even more brilliant when paired with a pop of bright white in the form of LVX’s Fantom lacquer. While red and pink don’t seem like colors that would ordinarily clash, it’s Shameless’ acid bright shade of pink that makes Flanders Poppy, a flaming orange red shade by Flora 1761, seem like just the right way to give your lips and nails their own distinct moments. Want to get the fully dolled up look? Try Tenoverten’s equally candy-colored Delancey polish for a perfectly coordinated shade.
BAREPRO Longwear Lipstick in Saffron
Saffron, an eye-catching orange red matte color that can be seen from a mile away, makes an even bolder statement when paired with an equally bright shade like Côte’s No. 50. (Speaking of making a statement, for every purchase of No. 50, $2 will be donated to This Is About Humanity, a community of advocates dedicated to raising awareness about families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Add that to the bareMinerals contribution to The Power of Good Fund, and that’s one good look.) Suburban Warrior, a watermelon radish color by Smith & Cult, is another vivid hue that, when paired with Saffron, creates a deeply pigmented and groovy color story. Cool colors like Smooth Sailing, an icy periwinkle by 10+ Free Chemistry, add a splash of something new to an otherwise fiery palette.
MINERALIST Hydra-Smoothing Lipstick in Romance
Romance is a blushing pink lipstick from our range of hydrating vegan lipsticks that’s equal parts sweet and sassy. A neon green nail color like Cyber by Cirque Colors is a perfect way to turn up the wattage all around, and teases out the latter. Truffle, described as a “deep earthy taupe” by runway-driven nail lacquer brand L V X, is a muted tone that lets the peony pigment shine. If you want to double down on the flower power with a matching pink shade, go for Pillow Pie by Smith & Cult, an “opaque powder pink” that brings the color story full circle.
GEN NUDE Matte Liquid Lipstick in Bo$$
Bo$$, our universally flattering pinky beige lip shade mixes especially well with CN, a delectable shade of brown created by Olive & June that helps to create an earthy spectrum of color. On the other hand, Côte’s stone gray No. 100 shade remains cool where Bo$$ is warm, bringing a touch of concrete chic to the table where one might expect more of an adobe clay color. Then again, for those who love a nude look and want to go monochromatic, No. 6 by Sundays is a buttery shade of beige that blends beautifully.