As a career community focused on helping women achieve their goals, Fairygodboss members often remark on how they worry about how they're perceived at work — sometimes, unfortunately, for what they're wearing (even on their nails).
Maybe you've always worn the same color or cut your nails the same length, and you're looking to change things up but unsure about what your nails might say in the workplace.
While you should maintain professionalism at work, there's also room for creativity and expression. You might just get your best work done when you have the freedom to look and feel like yourself.
So whether you're a fan of the natural look, acrylic tips to nail art, here are 31 ideas for professional nails for work.
Nail brands such as Essie, OPI Nail Lacquer and Revlon ColorStay have great collections of natural polishes that are perfectly professional for the workplace.
If you like glitter but want to keep your nails still looking natural, this nail design allows you the best of both worlds. You can choose a pale pink or light natural base and paint over just a few nails with a soft glitter balayage.
This is a metallic look with a soft color — in this case, pale pink. You can choose another soft color such as beige, white, or a very light gray, as well.
If color isn't exactly your thing, but you like to keep your nails painted, go for an almost opaque white. This gives your nails a finished look that will still match your whole work wardrobe, regardless of what you choose to wear.
Like the first glittered nail design, this one is both natural and fun at the same time. Choose a soft base, such as a pale pink, beige or light gray and just add a touch of glitter at the base of your nails.
Perhaps you're a fan of the pale colors without all the glitter. Go for a matte polish in a shade like this pale pink. It looks natural but groomed and taken care of at the same time.
If you love gel polish, nail brands such as SensatioNail Gel Polish, OPI Gelcolor and Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Color have great collections for the workplace.
White nails go with everything but are difficult to keep clean looking. This is because you typically need several coats of white polish in order to make it look even — and the more coats you put on, the more polish you have to chip off. A gel polish will look cleaner and thicker from the start.
Have some fun with a balayage design on your nails. You can use a soft gel base and a darker gel edge that fades into the nail. This particular design uses a glittery gel polish.
A neutral color like taupe is a perfect color for the workplace. This gel nail polish will match or go with all of the clothes in your work wardrobe.
Mix and match your nails with neutral gel polishes. To keep it professional, stick to lighter colors and less complicated designs.
Add a pop of color to your work wardrobe by going with a matte mauve nail. The gel polish gives the nail a shine without making it too flashy.
If you're a fan of acrylic tips, there are tons of ways you can keep long nails without sabotaging your professional look.
Again, if you are a fan of matte mauve nails, you can do the same with acrylic tips.
French white nails are a classic design. While the traditional French tip might be a thing of the past, balayage French tips are still all over Pinterest.
If you work in a more reserved, conservative office but want to keep your tips, consider keeping your tips a neutral color, like this taupe.
If you work in an office that allows for a little more creativity, check out tie-dye designs like this one, which are a little more fun than any plain colors.
Blue nails might not go over well in every workplace, but these periwinkle blue nails are light and playful. Just be sure to pair them well with neutral color outfits.
Nail art can be fun and add some creativity and personality to your work wardrobe. Here are some designs to inspire you.
A floral design goes well any time of year, and you can decide to just paint the design on a few nails if you fear that too many flowers will be too much for the workplace.
If you work in a creative atmosphere, designs like this one with daisies and stripes can be a fun way to add color to a black-and-white work wardrobe.
Match your nails to your office decor with this marble look.
If you've been feeling stuck at work lately, spice up your life by taking your nails out of this world.
Bright colors aren't always welcome in the workplace. But if you work in a more creative atmosphere with a more liberal dress code, these colors can compliment your work wardrobe.
If you're into bright colors but don't want to drive your workplace employers too crazy, consider a blue polish without any kind of design.
If the pale pinks aren't doing it for you, perhaps a more vivacious shade of pink will.
Purple can be a fun color to paint your nails, so long as you pair the polish well with outfits to match. You don't want to look like Skittles, but purple pairs well with grays of all shades.
Red is a color that demonstrates power, which means it's the perfect color to wear to work.
In the warmer months, you might want to give yellow a try in the spring or summer.
When in doubt, go natural! A soft light pink color is perfect for the office. It's natural enough without going completely bare.
Forget the traditional French white tips. These black ones are far edgier to give you the confidence you need to crush your work day.
Who doesn't love a gorgeous shimmer? This balayage French tip really shines thanks to a subtle glitter top coat.
Love glitter but don't want to use too much of it? A glitter tip gives you a touch of sparkle without going overboard for the office.
You can never go wrong with a nude nail. They match every work outfit you have, and they're soft, clean, and professional.
Why go with a traditional French manicure when you can do a more modern balayage version?
Whatever style you're interested in, there's a way to make it professional and safe for work.
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist for a gamut of both online and print publications, as well as an adventure aficionado and travel blogger at HerReport.org. She covers all things women's empowerment — from navigating the workplace to navigating the world. She writes about everything from gender issues in the workforce to gender issues all across the globe.
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