In case you hadn’t noticed, nails are in right now. In fact, the events of the past 18 months have had us expressing our creativity through nail designs in hundreds of different ways. Whether it’s via a nude, polished finish to make us feel pulled together, an array of rainbow brights to inject some joy into our day or something a little more artistic to serve as a creative outlet, we’re all turning to our nails as a way to make ourselves feel great.
This is theory is most applicable come autumn. As the days get shorter and the weather gets increasingly dark and dreary, finding the little ways to lift our spirits and make us feel good about ourselves should be prioritised. And so, autumn nail trends are, if you ask us, amongst the most important and monumental beauty trends of the year.
So if you’re still not on the nail design hype, consider this a sign. Whether you’re after an understated finish, something chic and simple or something bold and out-there, there’s an autumn nail trend for you.
To gear up for the season ahead, we’ve been turning to the fashion-girl nail pack to get a feel for the sorts of designs they're embracing right now. Get your inspo boards ready—this is all of the autumn nail design inspiration you could possibly need (and some tools and products that can help you re-create the styles at home).
1. Dripping Polish
This is without a doubt the biggest (and if you ask us, the best) nail trend of the season. Currently on the nails of basically all of the chicest fashion types around, the drip manicure can be executed with whatever colours you like. For an understated look, opt for a nude base with a pastel drip, or if you’re feeling a little bolder, use two clashing colours like green and purple.
2. Waves and Swirls
Retro waves are everywhere right now and can be incorporated into virtually every nail design around. If you’re trying it out for yourself and don’t have a particularly steady hand, try just one swirl. However, if you’re already a wiz with nail art or are heading into the salon, we couldn’t be more in love with this intricate green pattern. In fact, sage-green nails are definitely up there with our favourites for the season ahead.
The skinny French manicure hit the big time this year thanks to Harriet Westmoreland’s understated and chic designs, and for autumn, she’s switching things up—literally. We’re calling this style the reverse skinny French, and it involves using a very fine brush to create a small accent along the cuticle. And the best bit? You can use whatever shades you like. (Although, we’re all for this classic white-and-nude combo.)
If there's one person who knows chic nail designs. it's Betina Goldstein, and this style is no exception. In fact, we’ve seen her now-iconic checkerboard styles popping up on our feeds left, right and centre, and we want in. When mixing wintery hues with spring-like brights, a neat checkerboard makes for the ultimate autumnal style.
5. Skinny Halo
Taking the skinny mani to the next level, the skinny halo incorporates both a skinny French tip and a fine line across the nail bed to create a sort of halo effect. Either keep it all one colour or mix white with pretty pastels just like this. It’s the ultimate way to inject some sunshine into an otherwise dreary autumn day.
6. Molten Metals
While glitters and shimmers might be reserved for winter months, come autumn, it’s all about metallics. Embrace both the negative-space and drip trends by applying a metallic polish or gold leaf to the tips. We couldn’t be more in love with this if we tried.
7. Setting Sail
If you like your nail art to be understated but still appreciate designs that are a little different, the sailboat design might be for you. If you’re doing it at home, paint the whole nail one colour, wait for it to dry, and create a sail design using manicure guide stickers to create your shape.
8. Retro Fun
This season, it’s all about embracing fun, care-free beauty, and we’re seeing this most evidently in nail art. While flames, smileys and cherries might be difficult to execute by hand, shop around for nail wraps and stickers so that you can achieve salon-grade nail art at home with serious ease.
9. Metallic Gradient
While rainbow and ombré nails were everywhere this summer, this autumn upgrade gives nails a little more edge. Swap your summer brights for muted metallics and create a spectrum of shades on each hand.
10. Abstract Pink and Red
There are few things more classic than red nails come autumn. And if you consider yourself to be a big fan of the color but want to find a way to make it a little more fun, it’s time to go abstract. Create offset squares on a red base using pastel-pink tones for a modern-day twist on a classic look.