The quickest, cheapest, and easiest way to update your look for summer

The temperature was forecast to hit 90 here yesterday, so even though it’s barely May it suddenly feels like summer—and I’m feeling ready to look the part.

It wasn’t until I hit my thirties that I learned the easiest way to freshen up my look for the new season isn’t with my wardrobe, but with beauty products: beauty updates give a lot more bang for your buck, and they’re not nearly as crazy-making (or spendy).

In years past, you’d find me looking for a new lipstick or bronzer this time of year. But this year—with so much else on my mind—I’m going straight for the nail polish. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s much easier to find a flattering shade.

It’s also cheap: even the fancy nail polish costs less than ten bucks for a bottle. 


I detoured down the polish aisle at Target while I was picking up contact paper to line our new-to-us (and very dated) kitchen cabinets, and I loved what I saw. Essie is my favorite brand (pretty colors, on trend, hard to chip) but I often go for the cheaper stuff.

Polish shades that are catching my eye: 

• Orange-y reds. They’re so much more fun than true reds, and are available in a bazillion beautiful (and widely flattering) shades this season. Catching my eye at Target: Essie’s Geranium, Fifth Avenue, and She’s Pampered. (I brought one of these home with me: a pretty Essie shade called e-nuf is e-nuf. Pro tip: it’s cheaper online.)

• Pale pastels (think pale yellow, baby blue, mint). Subtle and pretty, but make sure they don’t wash you out.

• Metallics. Fun, versatile, and easy to wear. I’ve almost used up a whole bottle of Loréal gunmetal grey, and I never use the whole bottle. I’m eyeing OPI’s All Sparkly and Gold for the summer.

• Blush pinks. Feminine, pretty, timeless. Essie’s Mademoiselle is the classic pick, but there are plenty to choose from.

• Mermaid colors. If you’re hitting the beach and a vibrant hue (ocean blue, orchid, magenta, tangerine) makes you happy, go for it. Especially on your toes.



Share your favorite summer beauty updates in comments—and the quicker, easier, and cheaper, the better!


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  1. Tim says:

    My easy way to update my look for summer is to buy a new pair of dark socks to go with my Birkenstocks, Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirt. It really spiffens up the look!

  2. Alison S. says:

    Ahhh! Now I want to go shop for nail polish. 🙂 I haven’t painted my nails in ages because I hate how quickly they get chipped with having kids. Any ideas? I also love how dark and neutral nails look on other gals, but I haven’t found a shade(s) that looks good on me. Do you have any favorite shades in those categories?

    • Rebecca says:

      Try Essie’s top coat – Good to Go, I believe. It smooths it out and makes our nails look shiny and smooth!

    • Lindsay says:

      Alison, I like you HATED painting my own nails because of the quick chip issue. My hands are constantly wet due to having a 2.5 yr old and NB so between bottle, binkie, butt, hands etc washing, I need something to stick. Please try this, you won’t be disappointed.
      Start with clean nails…
      1. Dip a cotton ball in white distilled vinegar and rub each nail. Yes it’s stinky but the smell goes away VERY QUICKLY. The alternative which is slightly less effective is wiping your nails really good with nail polish remover.
      2. Apply one coat of ESSIE ALL IN ONE 3 WAY GLAZE!! This is the best. I originally couldn’t find it so I just tried their NO CHIPS AHEAD which of course gave me chips ahead lol DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO GET THIS STUFF. I think I finally found it cvs but you can look in target, ulta, amazon.
      3. Polish of your choice. Two coats. With this method I have found ANY polish to be great. One of my fav polish is funky fingers brand which is sold at a store called 5 below. Literally 3 polish’s for 5 bucks and really different funky colors.
      4. Apply another coat of essie all in one
      5. Apply a coat of OUT THE DOOR. You can find this at Sally’s, I’ve also bought it at big lots and even my the nail salon I used to go to several yrs ago.

      I NEVER post anything to blogs but this is the best method for a no chip salon looking gel mani. Soo shiny and pretty. Def more time consuming than just polish and top coat but less time and less money than sitting on the salon. This method will get you a SOLID 2 weeks, I can’t go any longer because my nails grow very fast so I get a space between my nail bed and polish line. Since this method I’ve given up my pricey gel manis but of course still treat myself to a pedi! Whew long reply sorry!!

      • Anne says:

        I rarely paint my nails because I don’t want to invest the time and $$ and have it chip in 3 days (pedicures are a whole different story though 🙂 ) but I’d try this! Thanks for sharing.

        • Alison S. says:

          Thanks for the advice, ladies! I think I will give painting my nails a try again.

          Lindsay, I laughed at your comment regarding kids. I have a 2 and 5 year old…enough said! 🙂

  3. Megan says:

    I might just update my cleanser! Do you have any suggestions?

    By the way, I’m so glad I stumbled upon your fantastic website! I really do love it 🙂

  4. Anne says:

    I slapped a little Revlon Grey Suede 705 on my toes for Easter Vigil, and I just keep going over the three toes you can see through my sandals, hahaha! It’s named grey, but it’s really just a beige-y neutral. Very pretty! I think I might just pick Revlon because it has a prettily shaped bottle. I never try other brands, but I’ll have to try the Essie Mademoiselle. It look very pretty.

  5. Stacey says:

    I love new nail polish! I also love having a daughter who is just as enamored with it as I am…together we have built up quite a dazzling collection of color 😉

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Nice recommendations, Anne! I’ve heard great reviews about Geranium, and that enuf is enuf shade is going to look great on you.

    I’m a big Essie fan. One of my all-time favorites is Chocolate Kisses, a deep chocolate (surprise) brown that goes well with my black, grey and navy wardrobe. Now I’m on the lookout for a light blue shade and an orangey coral this season.

  7. I totally bought my first bottle of not-cheapo nail polish this week at Target – Essie’s Turquoise and Caicos. I love it and it’s such a fun summer shade. Someone recommended it on Twitter last summer – behold the power of social media.

  8. Erin says:

    Just pulled the trigger on LIzzie and Jane and Essie Canyon Coral. Summer here I come – too bad I don’t go to the beach for another 2.5 months.

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