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Pantone Colour of the Year 2019 – Living Coral (matching colours & nail polish suggestions)

For the first article of the new year, I’m looking at the Pantone Colour of the Year 2019 – Living Coral (with extra details & nail polish suggestions). I have listed matching colours that go with Living Coral, suitable polishes and given some detail on the inspiration, and how to paint mix your own! It’s such a cheery, “tropical vibes” shade. The official tag being:

PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral

An animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge

And the promotional video that was released is below:

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A post shared by PANTONE (@pantone) on


Wondering who or what is Pantone?

Pantone is used in the printing industry and is a system that was developed for matching colours accurately – it used in specifying printing inks. I’d photograph some Pantone swatch books (I have some old ones in storage), though here’s one showing the colour chips.

It is often referred to as ‘PMS’ (meaning Pantone Matching System) or ‘spot colors’. And based on the CMYK printing. I prefer the latter, which doesn’t sound like its burdened with Lady Problems.

The Pantone colours contain mixing formulas, so a printer can correctly achieve that same colour no matter who prints it, and it will appear consistently across all printed materials. Professional companies will use Pantone colours for things like branding and logos that require the colour remain the same always. Now that little side lesson is out of the way…


This colour is definitely a vibrant, yet mellow shade. There are so many variants of Coral – some swaying more orange, some more pink. Living Coral is a reddish-orange hue that is a mix of orange and red with a touch of white – very easy to recreate when mixing with acrylic or oil paints (formulas below).

From the Pantone website:

PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment.

In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, we are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy. Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity. Symbolizing our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral embodies our desire for playful expression.

So this year’s colour choice represents the fusion of today’s modern living: a hue that appears naturally in our environment, and the “lively presence” of it that exists within social media.


Each year for the last 20 odd years, Pantone selects a Colour of the Year that sums up a trendy, influential colour. There’s a process of thoughtful consideration, and lots of trend analysis that takes place in order to make the selection. The colour experts conduct international research looking for new colour influences.

Their sources can be found in the entertainment / film industry (including movies in production), new artists and art collections, all facets of design, chic travel destinations, and current lifestyle trends, of course fashion, and even socio-economic conditions. New technologies, kinds of materials, textures, and other areas that impact color have also been considered.


Matching Living Coral with Other Colours

Especially with fashion and nail polish, it is nice to pair colours with other good matches. Coral is a flattering shade for such a wide range of skin tones and hues, but sometimes you just want to use it with as an accent colour.

Here is a list of shades that can work nicely with Living Coral to give you some inspiration:

  • Coral & White – a cool, vibrant, classic match
  • Coral & Off-White hues – Such as beige, cream, or eggshell, to tone down the brightness, but still keep it classic
  • Coral with White & Gold – sophisticated
  • Coral & Sage Green – a dusty kind of vibe
  • Coral & Mint – for a brighter, tropical feel
  • Coral & Teal – an acquired taste for some, a more mature choice
  • Coral & Emerald Green – think flamingos in the tropics, this one works a treat
  • Coral & Turquoise – a bit of a bright, retro style
  • Coral & Navy or Dusty Navy – nautical with a twist
  • Coral & Cobalt Blue – a hot combo
  • Coral & Light to Mid Grey – a different neutral, with a slight 80’s twist
  • Coral & Pink – feminine and floral, you can use a variety of pinks to pair – neon, pastel, cool toned
  • Coral & Warm Medium Yellow – sometimes found in nature, this combo is nice and Summery
  • Coral & Vibrant Yellow – for a louder and brighter Summer set
  • Coral & Purple tones – a little different, and not to all tastes. Try with lilac, violet, mauve
  • Coral with Rose Gold highlights – nice and subtle, if you pick the right rose gold
  • Coral & Pastel Peach – for one take at a tone on tone look
  • Coral & Buff Nude (beige brown) – a nice off season combo, that is fairly warming
  • Coral & Charcoal Grey – a darker alternative; where black can be too dark the grey tone adds balance

Mixing Your Own Living Coral Shade

As mentioned, Living Coral is a mix of orange and red tones with a touch of white. There a several ways to mix your own shade if using acrylic paint or nail polish. You could also mix gel, gel polish or paints, with caution.

Though, if mixing gels or gel polish please only mix from the same brand. This is really important! Due to the different composition and ingredients of various gel polishes, mixing gels from different brands (and sometimes different lines from the same brand) can potentially cause service breakdown, lead to improperly cured gel and enhance the possibility for allergic reactions amongst other issues.

Some basic formulas to mix your own:

  • Basic Gist: Mix red and orange, lighten with white
  • Mix a rose red and warm yellow, lighten with white
  • Mix a scarlet red and lighten with white. Can also add a touch of bright or warm yellow to adjust the coral to suit.
  • Mix a cadmium red and yellow, lighten with white a little at a time. Experiment with yellows for various warmths or hues.
  • Mix a vermillion (red-orange) with a small amount of white

Always dd the white a little at a time and lighten till you get the shade you want, you don’t need much to get a darker coral. The different reds and oranges (listed above) will produce varying shades of coral, so play around to find the one you want. Or use the different formulas depending what colours you have on hand.

My personal favourite outcome is using cadmium red. If using polish, you can simply find the best match to each off a colour chart, if you are unfamiliar with the technical shades.


Nail Polish Suggestions for Living Coral

Thanks to the universally flattering tone of this shade, there are a few polishes already in existence that closely emulate this shade of coral. Some come close enough. I have written a shortlist below of the ones I can think of. That are already available as of now. I am sure more will be released throughout the year as usual. Links are to the maker’s site.


Starting with the obvious, Butter London has been Pantone’s official US beauty partner for a number of years, and have released a 6pc set – 3 mini polishes and 2 make-up items.

LINK (non-affiliate)

OPI – Got Myself Into a Jam-balaya

This shows the Infinite Shine version.

LINK (non-affiliate)

OPI – Time For A Napa

From the 2017 California Dreaming Collection, this one is more on point than the slightly pinker previous shade. This shows the Infinite Shine version.
FIND ON EBAY (non-affiliate)

LeChat Dare to Wear – Sunkissed 

Splashy neon pink orange cream finish from the Oasis collection.

LINK (non-affiliate)

Essie – Tart Deco

Described as a dreamy coral with an artistic burst of color, it is a lighter but still flattering coral.

LINK (non-affiliate)

Dior – Coral Crush 445

A darker coral that has a gel effect.

LINK (non-affiliate)

Revlon COLORSTAY GEL ENVY™ – Pocket Aces

This definitely pulls a little more towards a pink coral in many lights, so it’s not exact, but it’s close enough to include for those who prefer pinker bases.

LINK (non-affiliate)

That’s concludes the Pantone Colour of the Year 2019 – Living Coral (details, matching colours & nail polish suggestions) article. Hopefully it helped spark some inspiration! Do you like this choice for colour of the year? Leave your comments and thoughts below 🙂


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  1. Kim 3rd February 2019 Reply

    Great article post! I really liked the mixing and matching information you’ve provided. Bookmarked!

    • Author
      Lia Lacquerista 3rd February 2019 Reply

      Thanks so much Kim! 💖 I appreciate you stopping by to have a read and glad to hear you found some helpful bits 😉

  2. Kiz 4th February 2019 Reply

    What a thoroughly informative post! I particularly enjoyed the color pairings for coral, such a clever addition!

    • Author
      Lia Lacquerista 6th February 2019 Reply

      I’m glad you think so Kiz. I like Pantone’s colour choice this year, but it’s one of those colours that I know some find hard to match. Thanks so much for stopping by to read! 💖

  3. Jackie 12th March 2019 Reply

    Love the mixing and matching info! Thanks

    • Author
      Lia Lacquerista 22nd March 2019 Reply

      I’m so glad you found it useful. Thank you for the feedback Jackie 😉

  4. Tejaswini 8th June 2019 Reply

    I always prefer bright colors for nails & I must say mentioned shades are just perfect for me. Thanks for sharing the detailed stuff.

    • Author
      B&P 12th June 2019 Reply

      Bright colours are lots of fun, it’s a great way to dress up one’s nails. Thank you for reading 😉

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