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Advice on Ways to Nail Down the Best Color of Polish for You

November 06, 1998|Beauty BARBARA THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

This year's nail color is purple.

And that very thought ought to send shivers down the spine of any woman older than 35. Since our hands seem to age so much faster than the rest of us, what's a woman to do?

Jan Arnold, president of Creative Nail Design, a nail product company in Vista, has some surprising advice: "Stay away from neutrals, there's nothing that can age a hand faster than matching your skin tone . . . especially if your skin doesn't look as good as it used to."

Older women, she says, think, " 'I want my hands to go away.' " But a safe, skin-color neutral will just draw more attention to your skin.

"Go for bright, fun, not wild colors, but vibrant colors," she says.

Any woman of any color should be able to wear bright colors such as red, pink or orange, as long as the hue is right for her skin. The secret, says Arnold, is in the polish's undertones.

Go into any department store and start lining up the pink nail polishes. "Every pink is either going to have a yellow undertone or a blue undertone," Arnold says. "I would stay more in the middle range, not too yellow, not too blue."

Too much yellow can make the hands look gaunt, too much blue will make the hands look, well, blue.

Purple is very hard to wear, she says, because it has so many blue undertones.

An alternative is to venture into vintage or "burnt" berry colors. An antique brown with gold undertones or even a pewter with just a drop of blue can be very flattering, she says.

And if your face is young enough for very purple lipstick, it's OK to still wear a darker berry on your nails, Arnold says. "I think in today's world, mismatching is still a trend. Wearing a nude lip, a very smoky eye color and metallic on your nails is a really modern look."

The avant-garde can wear the colors of a teenager, says Arnold, who is one of five children to help their father in the founding and running of Creative Nail Design. (Their products are only sold in beauty salons.) "I do have a group of friends, artists in their 50s, who love to wear blues and greens on their fingers. That becomes a very totally artistic statement."

But for what Arnold terms real women in a hurry, "a beautiful red on your nails and a red on your lips is a very classic statement."

Older women can turn the hands into a fashion accessory with a beautiful color, she says. "My mom is 75, her favorite color is Pinky Kinky Rose." (Very bright pink with both blue and yellow undertones.)

Arnold's color? "Forever French."

Her nails are medium-length, almond-shaped in a permanent French manicure. She gets them serviced once a month. "I travel a ton, I'm always opening suitcases. My nails have to look fantastic."

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