A close-up shot of a perfectly manicured hand with glossy black nails, contrasting against vibrant summer flowers in the background.

Dark Nail Colors You Can Wear All Summer Long

Summer is coming up and you may be tempted to ditch the dark nail polish for something brighter. But don’t put away your darker lacquers just yet! Rich dark tones like deep burgundies, forest greens and midnight blues can provide the perfect pop against bright summer dresses and tan skin.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Darker nail polish colors like dark reds, greens, blues and purples can look stunning during the summer months when paired with the right outfits. They provide a striking contrast against summer colors.

In this article, we’ll discuss the best dark nail colors to wear in summer and provide tips on how to wear them in a summery way.

Deep, Dark Reds

Vampy Shades

When you think of dark nail polish for summer, vampy shades like deep burgundy, oxblood red, and blackened red likely come to mind first. These sultry tones have a gothic vibe that may seem too bold for the sunny months.

However, pairing them with bright colors and prints can make them feel seasonally appropriate. For example, a vivid red pedicure peeking out from strappy sandals looks right at home at a summer barbecue.

Marsala and Wine Colors

Marsala was the Pantone Color of the Year in 2015, bringing this sophisticated wine shade into the spotlight. Though the trend has passed, marsala remains a refined option for summer nails. It’s darker than your average red, bringing an elegant mood.

Other rich wine colors like merlot and cabernet are equally stunning. Besides formal events like summer weddings, these shades also suit casual wear if you opt for a fun polish finish like crackled or glitter.

How to Style Dark Reds for Summer

The key to making typically vampy reds summer-friendly is all in the styling. Pair them with bright warm-weather elements to balance out the moodiness. For example:

  • Crop tops, cutoff shorts, and mini skirts
  • White or vibrantly printed sundresses
  • Straw hats and beaded jewelry
  • Flip flops and espadrilles

With fun accessories and prints, dark reds can work for daytime summer wear, not just evening events. Go for an allover color look by matching your deep red mani to a raspberry lipstick or pedicure. The color blocking effect is eye-catching.

For your nails themselves, add interest with creative details like flowers, strawberries, or anchor images in white. The high contrast makes these dark polishes pop even more.

Lush Forest Greens

Hunter Green

A deep, rich hunter green is an unexpected and mood-boosting shade for summer. While typically associated with fall and winter, this forest hue looks surprisingly fresh when paired with a summer tan and pops against bright whites. Go for a dark, dramatic hunter green in a cream or shiny finish.

Layer over a bright neon for an edgy colorblocking effect.

Deep Emerald Green

Deep emerald is another sophisticated forest shade that transcends seasons. Pair it with pastels and brights for summer or deeper hues like burgundy in cooler months. An emerald green polish has an inherently expensive look and feels at home at garden parties and upscale summer events.

Try a textured emerald green polish for added depth and dimension.

Olive and Sage Greens

Earthy olives and sages make unexpected and versatile summer shades. More muted and neutral than their brighter forest green cousins, these nails go with everything and add a subtle pop of color. An olive green French manicure looks particularly fresh.

Sage greens pair perfectly with peach, melon, and coral brights.

How to Wear Dark Greens in Summer

The key to successfully wearing darker forest nails in summer is pairing them with lighter, brighter accent colors. Think bright whites, sunny yellows, neon oranges and pinks. Colorblocking or alternating your deep emerald green with a bubblegum pink on alternating nails is a fun look.

You can also paint forest green nail art like leaves, flowers or squiggles over a lighter base.

Rich greens may not seem like an obvious summer shade, but they make for an edgy unexpected choice. With the right textures and pairings, lush forest hues can look surprisingly lively, luxurious and mood-lifting all season long.

For inspiration check out websites like Pinterest and Instagram for the latest takes on wearing emerald nails in summer.

Stunning Sapphire Blues

Navy Blue

Navy blue is a rich, dark shade of blue that evokes a sense of sophistication and style. This versatile color works beautifully for summer nail polish as it complements warm skin tones and pops against sun-kissed skin.

A navy blue manicure is perfect for day or night and can be dressed up with some sparkle or worn matte for an edgy look.

Some of the hottest navy blue nail polish shades for summer include OPI’s Yacht To Handle, Essie’s Go Overboard, and Revlon’s Posh. These deep, pigmented lacquers make nails look instantly chic. For a glittery navy sparkle try Deborah Lippmann’s Swagga Like Us infused with rainbow shimmer.


Indigo nail polish is a slightly lighter, brighter version of navy. These gorgeous summer shades add a fun pop of color to your nails. Saloon perfect shades like OPI’s Indigo Blues For Red and Orly’s Royal Navy offer a crisp, clean take on indigo blue.

Metallic options like China Glaze’s Harbor Lights bring some mermaid vibes with a hint of shimmer.

Indigo blue lacquer looks great on short nails or long. A pro-tip is to paint your ring finger in a contrasting chrome polish for extra bling when rocking an indigo mani. You can keep accessories minimal with this color on your nails.

Midnight Blue

True midnight blue nails are as dark as the night sky. They have an edgy, mysterious vibe perfect for summer date nights. Shades like Essie’s After Hours and OPI’s Aphrodite’s Midnight are rich, saturated polishes that make a statement.

A less intense take on midnight blue comes from Zoya’s Harper. Its deep blue base is highlighted with subtle shimmer. For some extra pop add an accent nail in metallic rose gold, like Londontown’s Brit of Love. The contrast of dark and light is quite striking.

Styling Midnight Blues for Summer

The best part about rocking dark nail polish in the summer is how beautifully it pairs with bright, vibrant attire. Midnight blue lacquer works with every color under the sun, adding nice contrast against yellows, pinks, reds, and greens.

For summer dresses, rompers, and tanks try painting your nails midnight blue. The darker color grounds the look while adding flair. Go for a nautical vibe by matching a striped tee with a midnight mani. White or wood sandals also complement the nails nicely.

Dark blue polish suits casual and dressy summer style. Try it with cut-offs and a swimsuit for a beach day. Or wear it with heels, ripped jeans, and a silky cami for a night out. Get creative mixing prints and patterns to let the chic blue hue shine.

Mysterious Purples and Plums

Eggplant Purple

Eggplant purple is a rich, deep shade that is ideal for creating a mysterious vibe in summer nail art. This regal hue looks great on all skin tones and can add a touch of luxury to any manicure. To rock eggplant purple nails in the summer, opt for an all-over application or use it as an accent color on one or two nails.

Add silver studs or rhinestones for some extra bling. Eggplant purple looks especially striking paired with nudes, metallics, and other deep shades like forest green.

Deep Plum

Deep plum is another exquisite purple that conjures up images of ripe plums and summer berries. Slightly lighter and brighter than eggplant, this lush shade looks elegant and feminine during the warmer months.

For beach vacations and summer parties, paint all ten nails a creamy deep plum or just accent your ring fingers. Metallic gold stripes and polka dots complement this rich color beautifully. You can also layer sheer sparkly glitter on top of deep plum polish for a magical, berry-inspired manicure.


Named after the precious gemstone, amethyst nail polish has a brilliant luminosity that makes nails pop. This light purple with hints of pink and lavender looks darling on short nails for summer. Try an amethyst and nude colorblock design or marble the two colors together.

For beach manicures, paint alternating nails with amethyst and a sandy beige. Add seashell and starfish nail charms for a super cute nautical vibe. Amethyst also works nicely with pastel yellows, mint greens and baby blues.

How to Style Rich Purples in Summer

Here are some tips for complementing deep purple nail lacquer in the warm weather:

  • Add gold foil for an opulent, regal look
  • Try white polka dots or stripes for a retro mod aesthetic
  • Incorporate pale green for a lush botanical vibe
  • Layer on iridescent glitter for ethereal mermaid nails
  • Use matte top coat to tone down shine in heat and humidity
  • Paint just the ring finger for a simple pop of purple
  • Mix with nudes, pinks, and peaches for pretty color pairings

Dark mysterious purple nail polish provides the perfect moody and luxurious complement to bare summer skin. From romantic date nights to beach getaways, these regal shades add flair and style to warm weather looks.

So don’t be afraid to rock deep plums, eggplants and amethysts on your nails this summer!

Tips for Pulling Off Dark Nails in Summer

Match to Outfits Strategically

Summer is all about bright, vibrant colors, so dark nails may seem counterintuitive. But you can totally rock an edgy dark manicure if you’re strategic about it. Choose dark polish colors that complement your summer outfit colors.

For example, pair a deep burgundy or wine red with light pinks, tans and neutrals. Or try a dark eggplant purple with peach, yellow or green. Rich dark blue or navy looks great with white, red and pastel shades. Just make sure the dark color isn’t overwhelming your look.

Use Creamy Finishes

Dark nail polish can look especially harsh and wintry if it has a glossy finish. Opt for creams over high-shine polishes to soften the look. Creamy formulas offer good opaque coverage but have a more subtle sheen that works better for summer.

Dark creams like chocolate brown, charcoal grey and deep merlot give off an elegant, put-together vibe rather than Gothic. Matte finishes are also great at muting dark shades.

Opt for Shorter Nails

Long, sharp stiletto or coffin nails coated in dark lacquer can look a little villainous. For a summery spin, go for shorter nails in squared, rounded or almond shapes. Keeping your nails trimmed shorter helps dark colors look more fresh and fun for the season.

You can even experiment with French tips using a neutral base and dark color on the tips only. This is a great way to dip your toes into darker shades.

Use Darks as an Accent Color

If you’re hesitant to commit to full-on dark nails in summer, start by using a deep shade as an accent. Do one dark accent nail with the rest in lighter, brighter tones. Or use dark polish to create geometric patterns, negative space designs or French tips over a nude base.

You can also paint just the underside of your nails in a dark color like black, navy or green. This peekaboo effect gives you just a hint of edge.


While bright, poppy colors may rule summer, deep dark lacquers can provide a stunning contrast against summer looks. Reds, greens, blues and purples in vampy jewel tones look striking when paired strategically with the right outfits.

Go for creamy dark shades in shorter lengths during the hottest months. Or use them as an accent popped against a brighter color. With the right styling, dark nail polish colors can be worn year-round, even during sunny summer months.

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