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The Right Nail Polish Color for Every Occasion, According to Jenna Hipp

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We all have our little rituals to stay positive and zen. You know, that spritz of lavender on your wrist to feel calm, or a saucy red lipstick for instant sex appeal. But there’s another beauty staple hiding in your cosmetics case that may also have serious mood-boosting potential. “Studies show that color stimulates hormones that can affect your mood, so choose nail polish shades that make you happy,” says Jenna Hipp, clean beauty expert and celebrity nail stylist who has worked with Emma Roberts and Michelle Williams.

Let’s dig deeper: Color therapy (otherwise known as Chromotherapy) has long been researched for its effects on behavior, as seen in the use of bubble gum pink shades in hospitals and correctional facilities for apparent relaxation. And while experts agree that more investigation needs to be done before pointing to any conclusions, at the very least a fresh paint job will help you feel polished for any occasion. At the very best, it may inspire a whole new outlook post-breakup or heading into that job interview.

Here, Hipp reveals why a polish change could be just the fix you need, and which nail polish colors will have the most impact.

  1. 1. For a Big Meeting: Nude Polish
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    1. For a Big Meeting: Nude Polish

    “When you go into your next meeting, let them know you mean business with a classically sophisticated nude polish to give your hands a clean and perfectly manicured look,” says Hipp, who suggests finding a shade that compliments your skin tone. “In a pinch, no polish is okay, but be sure nails are clean and filed without being too round or too square,” she adds. Use a toothbrush and whitening toothpaste for a brighter nail bed and add one coat of clear topcoat for a professional-looking finish.

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  2. 2. Post Breakup: Hot Pink or Bright Red
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    2. Post Breakup: Hot Pink or Bright Red

    Hit pause on the sappy playlist long enough to try a bold manicure post-breakup. “Warmer tones like hot pinks and bright reds show you’re classy, confident, and ready for life,” suggests Hipp. “Sometimes length makes a difference, so instead of that drastic haircut you’re thinking about, try a set of press-on-nails for the night,” she adds.

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  3. 3. For a First Date: Lavender, Purple
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    3. For a First Date: Lavender, Purple

    Like the scent that soothes your senses, seeing a lavender shade can also be calming and will have you feeling graceful and collected. “Pastel polishes in general are subtle yet playful and will show off your fun, flirty, and feminine side,” says Hipp.

    Craving something darker? “Deep oxblood or almost black maroon might make you feel super sexy for a date, too,” she adds.

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  4. 4. For That Stellar Instagram Shot Holding Your Fav Object: Red
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    4. For That Stellar Instagram Shot Holding Your Fav Object: Red

    You know the one we’re talking about, where those talons are getting the “likes” instead of that cheesy mug. Red is a classic camera-ready color, according to Hipp. “It draws attention and is relevant all year long. Plus, a proper red polish is timeless, shows confidence, and it looks beautiful on everyone,” she says.

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  5. 5. On Vacation: Glitter (OR Nude/Clear)
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    5. On Vacation: Glitter (OR Nude/Clear)

    Like your vacay, feel free to have fun with this one. You have two options: sparkly or practical. “If you’re going to go fun, think glitter, glitter, glitter,” says Hipp suggesting a lighter, glittery shade like rose gold that will make your mani stand out. “Whether you’re sipping mimosas on the beach or touring a brand new city, glitter feels festive and special while making any chips that may happen less noticeable,” she adds.

    If you’re thinking practical, try nude or clear hues. “A sheer coat of basecoat or topcoat will keep nails looking healthy and shiny for two or more weeks,” shares Hipp.

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  6. 6. For a Hell Week: Pale Pink
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    6. For a Hell Week: Pale Pink

    Having trouble adulting? There’s a polish for that. “Choosing a softer shade, such as a pale pink, is fun, but still easy to maintain during those tougher weeks,” says Hipp. Keeping your nails manicured can even provide a handy mental break when you peek down and catch a glimpse of that simple, low-maintenance color.

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Beauty Correspondent

Alexis Farah

Before becoming a freelance writer in Los Angeles, Alexis was the Senior Beauty Editor at Everyday Health in New York City. She started her career as the Associate Beauty Editor at Women’s Health magazine and learned social networking 101 at Attention, a social media PR and marketing agency. Alexis launched in 2016 to raise awareness about beauty brands and influencers who give back. She’s been referred to as a professional bridesmaid (seven times and counting), so by default she is called upon for various bridal beauty emergencies. It’s rare to catch Alexis without sunscreen or bright-red lipstick.