Nothing gets us excited for party season quite like scrolling Instagram and saving all of the prettiest nail inspiration down. In fact, by the time our first nail appointment of the season comes around, we find it hard to choose just one to go for. And while one or two nail appointments would usually suffice to see us through the party season, this year, we’re tempted to go all out.
You see, after being denied the opportunity of popping down to see our favourite nail technicians for our pre-winter manicures last year, this December, we’re vowing to make up for lost time. We are sticking to our guns and reminding ourselves that we should never, ever take nail appointments for granted. So this winter, we’re treating our nails to the very best polishes and nail art designs around. Hell, we might even switch it up every week.
And because we think your nails deserve it too, keep scrolling for the 18 prettiest nail designs to take inspiration from this winter.
1. Negative-Space Gradient
The gradient manicure has been a hot trend for some time now, but block hues in a gradient of colours are, dare we say it, a little "done." This winter, we're taking inspiration from this negative-space gradient manicure in a festive red. Starting with a fully painted nail on one end, as you move along the hand, each finger shows a little bit more negative space. It's understated, chic and effortlessly cool.
2. Glitter French
We'll admit the glitter French manicure is hard to execute in such a beautifully subtle way, but Harriet Westmoreland's skinny French hits the nail on the head (pardon the pun). Keep tips super fine and the base coat sheer and neutral.
3. Dazzling Gems
When manicurist Betina Goldstein uploaded this design to her Instagram page, it was the talk of Team Who What Wear. We simply can't get enough of the subtle brilliance of this jewelled look.
4. Blocky French
Over the past year, French manicure designs have been simple and understated, but if you can't make a statement during party season then when can you? This block, negative-space design is the perfect way to make a boring French manicure more interesting. Plus, you can choose whatever colours you want—from mood-lifting brights to deep, rich tones.
5. Ombré Tips
Definitely one to take to the salon rather than attempt yourself at home, these long ombré French tips look cute and wintry in green, red or blue tones and can be brightened up with oranges, pinks and purples for summer.
6. Sage Green
We know that this isn't strictly a nail art design. However, we think it deserves its own shout-out. Sage green might not be your typical nail colour of choice, but we just can't get over how cute this colour looks with party season–appropriate ruffled sleeves or even a cream, chunky knit. If we're opting for one block of colour on our nails this season, it's going to be sage green.
7. Metallic Tips
You can likely see a trend developing here. Yes, this winter is all about French tips, and this gold metallic design is sheer perfection. The key is in making sure the metallic polish you choose is highly pigmented and doesn't look flat on the nail.
8. Painted Stars
Nothing says winter quite like stars. If you're not a fan of overly glitzy nails, avoid metallic shades and embellishment with a bit of understated nail art. These white, hand-painted stars are wonderfully festive without being too attention-grabbing.
9. Studded Tips
If you're in a bit of a rush and didn't find the time to do your nails before your Christmas party, this is the nail look for you. Simply sticking on some gems or studs along the tip of your nail with nothing but a clear polish underneath is the ultimate way to jazz up a plain nail.
10. Rainbow Spots
We can't get enough of negative-space manicures, and this spot design is ticking all of the boxes. Choose three of four colours in whatever hues take your fancy—from popping brights to minimalist monochrome.
11. Abstract Shimmer
Jazz up your shimmer polish by teaming it with two stripes of polish underneath and creating an abstract design. The best bit is this look can be easily created at home with the use of some French-tip stickers. Simply paint on your stripes, allow to dry and place one sticker at the top and one at the bottom before painting on your shimmery polish.
12. Mini Waves
The mini mani trend is everywhere right now. From mini heart accents to micro French tips, when it comes to mani designers, the smaller, the better. This metallic wave design is making us feel super festive.
13. White Gloss
Nothing beats a neat gel manicure, and this winter, we're opting for a high-shine, snow-white finish. It's simple but so chic and effective.
14. Black Swirls
Over spring and summer, colourful, retro swirl designs were all over our Instagram feeds. This winter, however, we're keen to see the trend through to the end of the year with some small tweaks. Instead of mixing bright polishes together to create rainbow swirls, we want to keep things minimal with a high-shine black finish.
15. Mixing Mattes and Gloss
Matte nails had a big moment last year, but this winter, it's all about mixing your finishes. Opt for a matte-finish base and use a high-shine, gloss polish for your tips.
16. Neutral Checkerboard
Checkerboard nails hit the scene hard this year, and for winter, we're keeping the trend alive while dialling things down a notch. Mixing browns, beiges and nudes is the way to go.
17. Half-and-Half Brights
Why opt for one nail design when you can take two? With a French tip on one half of the nail, on the other half, you reverse the tip with a block colour to contrast. It's simple and beautiful, and we're asking ourselves why we hadn't thought of it before.
18. Scattered Gold
Winter is without a doubt the time to get that pretty gold leaf on your nails. Most reputable salons will have some in stock, but it's worth asking before your appointment.