It's that time of year where we slowly start putting away our favourite neon polishes in favour of the darker, moodier tones of autumn. For nail-art aficionados, a change in season presents an opportunity to experiment with an entirely new slew of fun nail designs and colours. Although there are certain standbys we always have waiting once autumn arrives (shoutout to our favourite burgundy nail polishes), we reached out to some of our favourite nail aficionados to give us a heads-up on what we'll be seeing in the coming months.
Four experts gave us the scoop on this year’s autumn nail designs. Even better, most of these are easy enough to DIY with the help of a few tools, new polish shades, and textured topcoats.
Intrigued? Keep reading for 15 new autumn nail designs (plus tips on how to get the look at home) straight from the pros.
"I think this fall will bring the need for change, and this may be expressed in the switch from a super-shiny manicure to a matte effect," predicts Jin Soon Choi, a New York–based expert nail artist and founder of Jinsoon.
Similarly, Nails of LA founder and celebrity nail artist, Brittney Boyce, anticipates seeing a rise in the multicolour matte manicure. "This is a really fun and easy way to DIY nail art at home," says Boyce. "It's especially great for people who can't make up their minds on just one nail color."
All of our pros agreed that French manicures are back in a big way. "They are simple, but I love that you can really combine any colours to create a clean statement look," says Lisa Logan, consulting manicurist for Nails.Inc and owner of The Nail Suite in Harlem, New York. Boyce agrees, suggesting that people with longer nails go for an almond shape with a darker shade at the tip and that those with shorter nails experiment with the painted curve.
Lately, Choi's clients have been requesting a riff on the iconic French manicure. "Clients often ask for different versions of this, modernizing it a bit by using a different colour combo (not just pink and white) or trying colourful tips. They also request things like negative space French manicures, diagonal or two-tone diagonal tips, and ombré French," she says.
These feline-inspired nails give the appearance of claws with dark, angular tips—just in time for Halloween. This design looks best on longer nails, and it can work on extensions, too. "This is slightly harder to DIY, but if you are getting nail extensions, this is such a fierce look," says Boyce.
"The nail art for this season will be unlike any other mostly because it will be DIY," predicts Mazz Hanna, celebrity manicurist and founder of Mazz Hanna. Simple designs on just the tips of the fingernails are a great way for at-home nail artists to begin while also playing with this season's colour palette.
Instead of multicolour manicures, Logan is seeing more clients request a tonal ombré with two or more colours on a single nail. Like the transition between seasons, this design can carry you from autumn to winter (or your next manicure appointment).
If the multi-nail ombré look seems a bit more feasible to DIY, we love the idea of playing within a cohesive colour family. Hanna agrees, noting, "It is super easy to do and still makes a bold statement."
As a specialist in gel extensions, Boyce is, unsurprisingly, all in on the glass nail trend. "It’s a chic design that goes with everything," she shares. "This is slightly harder to DIY, but if you are getting nail extensions, this is such a clean look."
"Nail art has become more and more popular at NYFW," explains Choi. "I expect to see many negative-space manicures with simple and minimalistic nail art, such as the look we created for Proenza Schouler [one season]."
Similarly, Hanna is predicting that polka dots will be back in a big way. "It's super simple to do using a bobby pin, even with limited nail art experience, and you can use any seasonal colour that is trending," she shares. But you can't rush the process. "Polka dots typically take longer to dry, so it’s important that you make sure your dots are completely dry before applying your topcoat," cautions Hanna. "If you apply a topcoat too soon, it will cause the polka dots to drag." And that can make this DIY design prone to re-dos.
Inspired by your favorite nail artist on Instagram? Or ready to try out a freehand design? Choi says to go for it! "Most designs can be done with the edge of your nail polish brush and a bit of practice," she says. She encourages at-home nail artists to begin by using everyday items like a toothpick or a clean makeup sponge. If you're ready to level up, all of our pros recommend buying a set of thin paint brushes and dotting tools.