We Tried 10 Neutral Fall Nail Colors & Essie's Coffee Shade Is The Most Gourd-Geous Of All

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Neutral nail polish shades are on every manicure fan's hands this fall, and it's easy to see why. Natural colors like taupe, tan, and blush are synonymous with autumnal imagery, from wild mushrooms to falling leaves. Of course, lacquer lovers aren't limited to just one branch of color from this expressive family. Neutral nail polish can refer to anything from pale creams and pinks to rich, sumptuous browns and blacks.


With so many products to choose from in the nail aisle, finding the perfect neutral polish can be hit or miss. To make things easier on you, we compiled some of the best neutral nail colors for fall, featuring salon-favorite brands like OPI and drugstore standbys like Wet n Wild. Whether you're a fan of peachy pastels or moody earth tones, you're sure to find something to love on our list for all of your autumnal manicure needs, though these gorgeous shades are classic enough to wear year-round.

Essie's cozy coffee shade could make anyone a cold brew fan

Expressie is a new line of lacquers by nail giant Essie that promises to deliver a perfectly dry mani in one minute or less — and for just $10. With a name like Cold Brew Crew, we like to imagine Essie's color creators carefully comparing this shade to a real cup of coffee. Its warm, caramel-brown hue is remarkably close to the color of the popular beverage.


Cold Brew Crew applies slightly more sheer than some of the other polishes we sampled, but it's an enticing shade nonetheless. True to Essie's word, two coats of polish dry in just under a minute — an impressive accomplishment given our generous application. The color is a beautiful, milk chocolate brown, and its high-gloss formula is a dream to paint with. In fact, we think Cold Brew Crew's irresistible hue solidified it as our favorite of the bunch.

This moonlit neutral from Habit Cosmetics is perfect for fall

Founded by Aja Frierson in 2013, Habit Cosmetics is a Black-owned beauty brand that boasts over 60 dazzling shades of cleanly formulated nail polish. Our pick? We purchased the brand's stunning Moon Rock shade for $11.99. Though it's modest in size, weighing in at roughly a third of an ounce, we were curious to see if good things would come from its small package.


In the bottle, Moon Rock appears grayish pink, though it's described as "off-white" by the brand. Right away, we were impressed by its formulation. The polish glides onto the nails with ease, and its creamy pigmentation is on par with luxury nail products costing twice its price. Painting with Moon Rock is a satisfying experience, and its pale color is even more gorgeous out of the bottle.

One coat is more than sufficient for full coverage, but we used two to fill areas that needed more love. Further solidifying our fondness for this clean beauty brand, Habit's Moon Rock dried to a rock-solid finish within minutes. We firmly pressed against our thumbnail to ensure it set, and not a single smudge appeared. On top of being strong and quick-drying, this polish is effortless to remove.


Nail painting is a Piece of Cake with Butter London's pretty pink

Butter London is known for its high-quality polishes that are sold everywhere from department stores to drugstores. We picked up Butter London Patent Shine 10x Nail Lacquer in Piece of Cake for $11.99 and were immediately charmed by its pale, pink hue. It may be one of the subtler colors on our list, but Piece of Cake is nothing short of eye-catching.


Out of the bottle, Piece of Cake is a creamy pink with a rich consistency. Its formula is surprisingly opaque, especially for such a light shade. This neutral lacquer would make an excellent base coat for a fall French manicure, though it can certainly work as a standalone shade. Piece of Cake also has a wonderfully glossy finish, meaning you can get away without wearing a top coat. Plus, it's super easy to remove, melting off the nails in seconds.

Give your mani some drip with Sinful Colors' stunning gold polish

By far the most affordable color in our roundup, we found Sinful Colors Power Paint in 24K Drips on sale for less than $2 at the time of writing (at full price, this gorgeous gold retails for just $3.99). According to its label, this golden metallic has a gel-like finish that should last for seven days of wear.


While we wouldn't say 24K Drips reminded us of a gel polish, we did find it very easy to work with. This lacquer's formula has a liquidy texture, so we recommend giving it a good shake before starting to paint your mani. 24K Drips is a pretty, cool-toned gold shimmer with an almost sandy color. Because it's not overly flashy, you can wear this soft metallic just about anywhere. Moreover, its satiny formula is smooth and forgiving, which is good news for novice nail artists everywhere.

OPI's ultra-charming fall neutral has endless shine

OPI is the type of nail polish brand that requires little introduction. We purchased OPI Infinite Shine in Barefoot in Barcelona for $13.99 as part of the line's neutral color collection. According to OPI, one can wear the brand's Infinite Shine polishes for up to 11 days without chipping or fading. Based on its many glowing reviews, it's clear that this polish makes good on its promise.


Barefoot in Barcelona goes on super buttery and smooth, giving you a salon-worthy coat with minimal effort involved. It's opaque and pigmented from the first coat, with a medium pink color that's universally flattering. OPI's Infinite Shine formula is easy to control, so it won't catch on cuticles or require much cleanup after you apply it. It dries quickly, and its creamy consistency flows evenly, masking any sign of brushstrokes or streaks. Just as its name implies, this polish has an incredible shine that rivals a gorgeous gel manicure fresh from the salon.

Say Howdy to this gorgeous color from Olive & June

Not all neutral polishes perform the same way — just look to Olive & June for proof. According to the brand, its Quick Dry Polish, which costs $7.50, lasts longer than competitor products and provides 60% more shine. We picked up Howdy (a pretty, peachy beige) to see whether it truly lived up to the hype.


Initially, we struggled to open our bottle of Olive & June. But once we twisted off its cap, we were greeted by the gorgeous, glossy neutral within. Olive & June's brush tip is significantly larger than your standard polish brand's, and this ergonomically friendly design makes it simple to coat each nail in a single swipe.

Apart from its cap, we loved everything about Olive & June's Howdy, from its silky formula and brush to its ultra-flattering finish. After painting on just one coat, it looks beautiful, but we opted for two to highlight its sophisticated color.

This Nails Inc. polish smells as sweet as it sounds

As soon as we saw it, we couldn't wait to try this fun novelty lacquer from Nails Inc. The brand's Coco for Real Nail Polish in Rock It Chocolate, which sells for $7.99, claims to smell just like candy, an unusual treat for nail care fans. Although we happened upon it by chance, Rock it Chocolate is a perfect mid-toned neutral for a fall manicure. If you prefer a darker-colored polish, you can also try Meet Me On Mars, a deeper brown from the Rock It Chocolate collection.


This chocolate-scented polish is easy to paint with, thanks to its soft brush bristles and elegant formulation. Sadly, we only detected a hint of its sweet signature scent, though it became more pronounced as the polish began to dry. Rock it Chocolate's neutral beige color is warm and slightly sheer, making it an excellent choice for jelly or pumpkin spice nails. The cherry on top of this chocolaty polish is its quick dry time — by our measure, you can expect your manicure to set in five minutes or less. Try pairing it with a cocoa butter hand lotion to enhance its gourmand fragrance.

Sally Hansen's Central Bark gives nails some New York spark

Sally Hansen seems to have cornered the home manicure market, as the brand was visible in almost every beauty department we visited during our hunt for neutral nail polishes. Xtreme Wear by Sally Hansen in Central Bark is a rich, cool brown that's a few shades deeper than other browns on our list. Retailing for $3.29, this vegan polish is part of Hansen's Concrete Jungle Collection, which is "inspired by the city that never sleeps."


At first glance, Central Bark resembles a burnt umber color. It's not quite opaque on the first swipe, so we suggest painting on a second coat to appreciate its true color. Nevertheless, this glossy brown polish coats the nails just as smoothly as a product twice its price. Although this handsome lacquer promises to deliver long-lasting results, it requires a slightly longer drying time than some of the other polishes on our list to set fully. It may look black in photographs, but Central Bark is more of a rich cocoa shade that reminds us of chocolate-covered almonds or espresso beans.

Wet n Wild's wallet-friendly lacquer evokes luxury flair

Smudged nails are why many of us can't deal with painting our nails at home. Yet quick-drying polishes — like Wet n Wild Fast Dry AF in Sorry I'm Latte — are a fantastic remedy for this age-old beauty problem. Wet n Wild is one of the most economical nail colors around at less than $5 a bottle, and this luxe neutral shade is easy on the eyes.


Sorry I'm Latte has a broad, rounded brush similar to Olive & June's, making polish application effortless. After only a minute or two, our manicure dried to a hard finish with no dings or smudges to speak of. One coat of Sorry I'm Latte is almost opaque, but we applied two for comparative purposes. The budget-friendly shade more than exceeded our expectations, from its chic color to its speedy dry time. Try the mauvish Latte on and sport the neutral nail trend yourself this fall — there's no better shade to wear on chilly autumn coffee runs.

Try this cool buzzy brown from Ulta Beauty for fall

You're likely familiar with beauty superstore Ulta's own brand of products, featuring everything from hand soap to lipstick. To complete our collection of fall neutrals, we selected Ulta Beauty's Gel Shine Nail Lacquer in Hazel Honey, a shade described as a "caramel brown cream" by the cosmetic retailer that sells for just $4.25.


Though Hazel Honey is somewhat similar to Essie Expressie's Cold Brew Crew, we think it's more of a cool brown than a warm caramel hue. Ulta's formula is easy to lay down on the nails, though it's a little sheerer than we initially expected. As such, we'd recommend using two coats for optimal coverage. In terms of performance, Hazel Honey doesn't dry quite as quickly as Cold Brew Crew. Still, it's a good choice for those seeking an ash-brown shade — just make sure to let it dry completely between coats to prevent any smudges from forming.