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Yellow Nail Trend – Blazin’ Hot or Nail Fail?

natalie portman, cassie, yellow nailsYellow is popping up everywhere these days. Celebs like Natalie Portman and Cassie have been spotted recently sporting bright yellow manicures. And who could forget Rihanna’s lemon smiley faces from last winter (below)?Granted, yellow isn’t exactly new for nails. We’ve been talking about it here since ALU began and the writers over at one of my fave daily reads, the Nylon Blog, have been obsessing over it since early 2008 but it seems that right now, yellow is having its moment.
rihanna, yellow nails, smiley face nailsThe only major downside is that yellow is not an easy color to pull off. Wearing it will draw attention and choosing the wrong shade can make you look downright sickly. On the upside, a punch of lemon on your tips or toes can be the perfect accent to your summer wardrobe. Are you ready to make the leap and try the trend for yourself? Then you’ve come to the right place. My top yellow polishes are listed after the jump.


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Last summer, the image of Selma Blair in InStyle rocking Chanel L.A. Sunrise from the Robertson Boulevard Collection was worth way more than a thousand bottles as nail fanatics flew to scoop one up the day it went on sale. This fanatic even went so far as to order two, the first time in years I’ve bought a backup.

Soft, buttery shades like this one are definitely the most flattering form of yellow and the least intimidating for newbies to the bright nail scene. You can still pick up a bottle of L.A. Sunrise on or opt for one of the alternatives below.

Chanel L.A. Sunrise, $25,

Rescue Beauty Lounge Square Pants, $18,

Finger Paints Yellow Bikini, $4.99, Sally Beauty Supply

OPI Banana Bandanna, $8.95 (Coming Soon)

Each year Pantone, the authority on color, names its Color of The Year and for 2009 it’s Mimosa. A warm, golden shade chosen for the hope and reassurance it expresses, I was bit leery of Mimosa leaking over into the polish world. It’s a bit too warm for my skintone making me look sallow but against olive or dark skin it’s fantastic. My top rec’s for Mimosa-esque shades are…

CND Hot Pop Yellow, $2.99,

China Glaze Solar Power, $2.60,

OPI The “It” Color, $4.48,

Finally, if you’re ready to throw caution to the wind and really go for it with something sunny and vibrant, you can’t miss with one of these beauties.

Rescue Beauty Lounge Yellow Fever, $18,

Misa Happy Happy, $3,

Barielle Lemon Drops, $8,

How do you feel about yellow nails? Is it the hot color of the summer or too scary for words? Do you have a fave I overlooked? Let us know in the comments.

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There Are 26 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Durp. I used my Hot Pop Yellow for a franken (which turned into a beautiful-ugly lime green color). I really regret it now! :( At least I still have my old bottle of Need Sunglasses?

  2. I'm Just a Girl says:

    I am absolutely in love with yellow polish. I have China Glaze Solar Power and Celtic Sun…and I can’t get enough of them! I think bright, eye catching, vibrant colors are fabulous this time of year.

  3. cidell says:

    Funny. I just decided this mornign that I could totally get away with wearing yellow. Thanks for the recommendations!

  4. Savvy says:

    I’ve been wearing yellow since I became a nail polish fanatic in the 8th grade. I will wear any and every shade. You mentioned tons of gorgeous yellows, but how could you forget about those gorgeous neon/highlighter yellows. That’s what you should wear if you’re REALLY bold.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I just bought some yellow polish from Target today and can’t wait to do my nails later!! It really is a hot color. I’ve been trying to find it everywhere but haven’t been able to. We’ll see how it looks on my fingers.

  6. itsV-MONEY! says:

    I bought a bottle of yellow OPI nail polish, and it’s my new favorite color by far. Thing is, some heartless soul ripped off the sticker on the bottom of the bottle with the name, so I don’t know what it’s called – it’s the color of Forever21 bags with a little bit of shimmer, and I love it. :)

  7. Jennifer says:

    i would love to wear yellow nail polish but FP’s Yellow Bikini makes my nails look like yellow white out on my fingertips, looking way too chalky. Any suggestions? I’m thinking Opi’s IT Color might be the yellow for my skin tone.

  8. melsh says:

    ohhhhh lemon drops is so pretty.

    i wear rbl yellow with dead calm (charger fan!)

  9. kiran says:

    i’ve been loving yellow since last summer- but it turned into a big fail for me when i finally sprung for it.
    i got a bottle of a lemony-yellow- something like the chanel LA sunrise color- from the urban outfitters polish line and the application problems made it such a big big mess!
    i’m about to send it into the zoya polish exchange to try a new yellow.
    i also just got a pre-release trial bottle of sally hansen HD nail color in a great metallic yellow (i think the shade is called ‘lite’) and i think its perfect! will definitely be rocking it regularly!

  10. jessica says:

    I love yellow, but it looks HORRIBLE on my fingers and toes!

  11. Lackoholic says:

    Thanks for this post! I love yellow and am on the search for the perfect shade for summer… =)

  12. Rachel says:

    I’ve had yellow since 7th grade, Street Wear Taxi. Then for years there was nothing, I’m talkin 12 years til I found another yellow and I have at least 6 now. I’m currently wearing OPI Lemonade Stand By Your Man…if anyone thinks wearing a different nail polish is too much of a risk then they have some serious social issues. It’s just nail polish, try to have some fun in your lives :)

  13. victoria says:

    YAY!!!!! i just got a bottle of yellow over the weekend. but this is like highlighter/neon yellow. i have olive skin and i FEEL like i pull it off well… :P
    now i need to get my paws on those beautiful soft lemony yellows. Victoria Secret has really cute shades right now, yellow included!

  14. rbrinkley says:

    After years of shying away from yellow both because I felt it was unflattering and also b/c my mother decorated with it liberally, I tried once more to embrace it – SUPER cute yellow eyelet sundress at Ann Taylor Loft that I tried on – but holy moly I was jaundice city. Love the trend but I guess my fingers and toes will have to miss this one. C’est la vie!

  15. All Lacquered Up says:

    Anon – what did you franken it with to get that color?

    I’m Just A Girl – I agree. I wish Yello Neil from ChG was still being made. It’s one of the best sparkly yellows ever.

    Cidell – Of course you can. If you have the confidence and skin tone for it, I say make it happen!

    Savvy – You know, I just can’t get behind those highlighter yellows. They’re so bright they hurt my feelings. But if you love ‘em, rock ‘em.

    Jennifer – Oh I’m always on the lookout for great drugstore shades. What brand is it?

    itsV-Money – It has shimmer? Is it somewhat sheer or metallic at all? If you want to email me a picture I’d be happy to help you identify it.

    Jennifer – You might need to go darker or warmer. The IT Color would work or OPI Banana Bandanna might even be a better choice if you still want something light.

    Melsh – That’s a great combo to support your team. It bet it looks fab together.

  16. All Lacquered Up says:

    Kiran – That SH shade sounds fantastic. Thanks for the heads up. Yeah, some yellows can be streak city. There must be something about the pigmentation with yellows that make them kind of nightmarish.

    Oh and I know what you mean about the long gone great yellows. My friend has the most magnificent shade, Maybelline Banana Pudding. I drool every time she wears it

    Jessica – I’m sorry but there are a ton of other fun colors for summer for you to try. Go for bright blue or coral instead.

    Lackoholic – You’re welcome. Good luck with the hunt

    Rachel – I had a bottle of Taxi at one point and I’m still hoarding this old pastel yellow from the Street Wear collection somewhere. Such a shame they stopped making them.

    Victoria – I never thought to look at VS. I know they have polish but when I look it’s normally pretty run of the mill shades. I’ll have to check them out.

    rbrinkley – Sorry the color doesn’t play well with your skin tone. That dress sounds like something I would LOVE.

  17. Beauty Alchemist says:

    I am loving the yellow, but haven’t gotten any bottles yet. Have to decide which one. I loved the look of Zoya Pippa is it ?

    Now I had a yellow a very long time ago( the 80s) by Revlon called Flash and Fantasy.
    Anyone remember that? I loved it but it was considered quite odd back then. I wonder if I still have the old bottle tucked away. I do have a lot of vintage stocked away.

  18. Wannietta says:

    I actually have OPI’s Cabana Banana on my nails right now – it’s a lovely golden yellow that just screams “Sunshine”!!! Of course, I take a decent amount of ribbing from the bus drivers (I’m a dispatcher) that it’s Chrome Yellow (aka School Bus) but it’s not that orange. Philistines!!!

  19. The Asian Girl says:

    Yellow is my color this summer. I have a yellow Victoria’s Secret bikini and Essie Short Shorts which matches it :) I started wearing yellow because I realized I could get away with it thanks to my skintone.

  20. queen frostine says:

    Not for me! I’m not color shy, but it’s the only color I’ve ever taken off in less than 24 hours purely because I couldn’t stand the sight of it on my hands. I don’t mind the trend, but it doesn’t work for me. I might be able to pull off a softer yellow, but most shades I’ve seen put out are too bright (for yellow I mean, I like brights in general) for my taste. I could probably handle a butter, but most I see are somewhere around yellow or mustard. I’m not a fond of yellow in other mediums either so that probably doesn’t help. Plus the two yellows I’ve tried (OPI Need Sunglasses and SH Insta-Dri in Lightning) have been a nightmare to apply.

  21. Orli says:

    I want some yellow nail polish but I can’t find a shade I LOVE. :(

  22. Anonymous says:

    omg you forgot two of my fave yellows! essie’s funky limelight, from the essie neon collection which i wear when i feel very brave, and the one i’m wearing now, OPI’s need sunglasses. hot!

  23. Faith says:

    I’m slowly getting into the yellow craze – I’ve got Piggy Polish Dog Daisies of Summer, which is just gorgeous, and I just got Zoya Pippa yesterday. Haven’t put it on yet, but it looks lovely. :) I want OPI Banana Bandana too.

  24. Mandy says:

    I love yellow! I only have one yellow polish though (zoya creamy-no zoya love this round from you???). I’m surprised how many yellows there actually are right now! I don’t wear my yellow that much since it always seem to be a problem child during application-have you noticed this w/ yellow colors across the board? But the lighter, softer yellows are calling me too-the finger paints and new OPI bandana….maybe you could do some comparision swatches soon? Mainly comparing zoya creamy to pippa, FP bikini and new OPI. Thanks!

    ps-I love the yellow color trend in general but the Rihanna smiley face nail art is just plain silly.

  25. sunshower! says:

    I absolutely LOVE yellow polish! It’s so beautiful and bright =)

  26. bargainbeautyblog says:

    I rocked Sinful Melon (melon something?) – A neon yellow – last week. LOVE IT! But my brother and dad totally commented on how gross it was. I also wore Orly Livewire last week. I LOVE yellow!