5. In need of advice about nail shape and polish color

If you’re 50, you know French manicures defined the ’70s, red polish the ’80s, inky darks the ’90s, and pinky-beige has been the default shade ever after. Manicures still offer a quick, risk-free way to change up your looks and make a style statement. “My favorite shapes for flattery are the elongating almond or oval, but any shape and length can work,” Lippman says. “The key is keeping nails a consistent length and shape and cuticles healthy with oils and creams. Though dark polishes and nudes tend to be go-tos for women 50-plus, there’s been a major shift to pastels and brights that provide a pop of color and draw attention away from veins and dark spots, especially orangey shades, and bright reds.” I’ll note that milky white polishes, pastels and gleamy chrome or sparkling topcoats provide the most satisfying update for those who usually wear sheer pinks and nudes. Corals and warm reds such as Dior Vernis Gel Shine & Longer Nail Lacquer in 080 Red Smile ($30, nordstrom.com), Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Nail Polish in Genius of Love ($20, nordstrom.com) and Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish in Sundown Socialite ($13, ulta.com) counteract dark spots and veins much the same way peachy under-eye concealer cancels dark circles.

spinner imageZoya Nail Polish in Dacey; ella+mila Love Nail Polish Collection in Pure Love; Tenoverten Natural Nail Color in Austin

(Left to right) Zoya Nail Polish in Dacey; ella+mila Love Nail Polish Collection in Pure Love; Tenoverten Natural Nail Color in Austin

Ulta Beauty; Target; Amazon

6. Concerned about nail health and manicures

The wear and tear of maintaining beautiful nails really comes down to you. Any indication of improper salon application or removal on gels, dip powder or extensions (and yes, it can happen), such as nail thinning, brittleness, peeling or cracking, is a signal to take a gel break and change to repair mode with cuticle- and nail-pampering oils and creams and stick to your natural nails instead of lengtheners. For some, even if the manicure looks pristine on the surface, damage and breakage can occur so you may want to remove after 2.5 weeks.

  • Apply sunscreen to the backs of your hands if you do use UV light (some experts link UV lamps to skin cancer).
  • For hygiene’s sake, ask the nail tech to sprinkle dip powder over your nails instead of dipping fingers into a communal powder pot used by other clients.
  • Request cuticles be pushed back instead of cut.
  • See your physician and avoid manicures if you have an allergic reaction, any sort of infection from bacterial to fungal, swelling of hands or fingers, cuts or abrasions (especially if diabetic), or if you are having in-hospital surgery. True nail bed color during and after surgery gives doctors and nurses an indication of healthy circulation.

Some women opt for manicures with clean polish brands that are specifically labeled as vegan, eco-friendly and minus potentially harmful ingredients such as formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate (the big three). You’ll see “three-free,” “seven-free” and even “17-free” on the label. You may want to try nontoxic brands of regular polish. Three good choices for summer 2023 include Zoya Nail Polish in Dacey ($12, ulta.com), a hot pink that is 10-free; ella+mila Love Nail Polish Collection in Pure Love ($10, target.com), a trendy vanilla that’s 17-free; and Tenoverten Natural Nail Color in Austin ($14, amazon.com), a summery blue that is eight-free.