It's that time of year when we slowly start putting away our favorite neon polishes in favor of darker, moodier tones of fall. For nail-art aficionados, a change in season presents an opportunity to experiment with an entirely new slew of fun nail designs and colors. Although there are certain standbys we always have waiting once fall arrives (shoutout to our favorite burgundy nail polishes), we reached out to some of our favorite 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 fall 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 fall nail designs (plus tips on how to get the look at home) straight from the pros.
1. Matte All Over
"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.
Choi touts the Jinsoon Matte Maker top coat as one of her all-time favorite products. Formulated without harsh chemicals, this top coat transforms your chosen polish shade from shiny to stylishly matte with a swipe.
Give bright, summer orange polishes more of an autumnal feel with a matte topcoat. It compliments all skin tones, adding the ideal pop of color inspired by the changing leaves.
2. Multicolor Matte
Similarly, Nails of LA founder and celebrity nail artist Brittney Boyce anticipates seeing a rise in the multicolor 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."
Boyce explains that using a matte topcoat on bright colors helps to accentuate that muted feeling. Like all Orly polishes, it's fast drying and formulated with UV inhibitors to prevent fading and yellowing.
Give this summery duo a fall spin with a unifying matte topcoat. Featuring a juicy orange and watermelon pink, these vitamin c infused polishes are ultra-pigmented and fragranced to fully satisfy the senses.
3. Mismatched Topcoats
For beginner nail artists, Boyce also suggests experimenting with different finishes. "Try playing with matte and glossy topcoats, like a matte base with a glossy tip or vice versa," she instructs.
Another great matte option if you're looking to add a little edge to your manicure style this season. Use this one by OPI for up to seven days of chip-free wear.
You can't go wrong with OPI's Infinite Shine line. This easy to use top coat is formulated with exclusive, cutting edge ProStay technology for 11 days of gel-like wear and shine without chipping or fading.
4. Modern French
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 colors 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.
Metallics for fall just makes sense, don't they? We'll definitely be using this gorgeous, purple-hued Essie polish to appease all of our metallic needs as we head into the season.
Yes, there are kale-based products to improve the overall health and appearance of your nails (and we're all over them). The Nailkale Superfood Base Coat is an antioxidant, five-benefit polish with kale extract that strengthens the nails and stimulates growth while providing additional nourishment.
5. Double-Corner French
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 color combo (not just pink and white) or trying colorful tips. They also request things like negative space French manicures, diagonal or two-tone diagonal tips, and ombré French," she says.
Going the french manicure route? Consider using this white polish by Orly to add the perfect finishing touch to your timeless nails. We'll never get tired of the rush we get from achieving an effortlessly chic manicure year-round.
A quick-drying topcoat (with retinol) is essential for any DIY application. Not only does this top coat dry just 45 seconds after initial application, but it does wonders for restoring the health of your nails using retinol.
6. Ombré French
The above photo is a perfect example of the ombré-French design and can be created using any number of color combinations.
We love this warm-yet-moody set for fall since it offers every autumnal-inspired shade you can imagine. From a spicy pumpkin orange to a moody navy blue, you'll have it all.
You can never have too many polish options when you're heading into a new season. This seven-piece set celebrates the many hues of autumn while being versatile enough to be worn year-round.
7. Kitty Cat Tips
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.
Because black goes with everything, it's always good to have a fashion-forward nail polish shade on hand at home or in the salon like this rich, shiny black from our expert's namesake brand.
Ready to dive into some nail design? Don't discount a double-sided brush and dotter tool for designs and delicate cleanup. We're using these ones from Teoyall to bring our fall fantasies to life.
8. Two-Tone Diagonal Tips
"Many people are slowly easing back into fun, bold manicure looks," shares Logan. Like Choi, Logan's clients have requested modern French manicures with two-tone diagonal tips, as pictured above.
Denim for fall? Groundbreaking. This dusty blue nail polish is as effortlessly cool as your most comfortable pair of broken-in jeans that have a permanent spot in your wardrobe.
If you're a lover of pink manicures but don't know how to transition your nails into fall, this pastel pink is the key. It's surprisingly opaque, a must-have for anyone in the mood for a modern nail design.
9. Tips Only
"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 color palette.
How pretty are these fall hues? The Keep It Tonal Quad by Nails Inc. is the answer to all of our fall manicure prayers, offering a selection of versatile, neutral shades with full cover payoff and a rapid dry formula.
We love this cozy take on the season, too. Leave it to Olive and June to create the prettiest set of pink-greige polishes that a reminiscent of curling up with cozy cashmere.
10. Tonal Ombré
Instead of multicolor manicures, Logan is seeing more clients request a tonal ombré with two or more colors on a single nail. Like the transition between seasons, this design can carry you from fall to winter (or your next manicure appointment).
One of our all-time favorite navy blues, this blue-black polish is everything you love about fall in a bottle. With a salon-quality nail color formula that offers flawless coverage and endless shine. This one deserves to be part of your next autumnal manicure.
If you're feeling bold, use this contrasting yet complementary marine blue shade for your tonal ombré look. The hint of purple in this polish is definitely on trend for this fall.
Neutral lovers, listen up: a creamy, steel gray polish is the perfect neutralizing shade for any tonal ombré manicure.
11. Ombré Color Family
If the multi-nail ombré look seems a bit more feasible to DIY, we love the idea of playing within a cohesive color family. Hanna agrees, noting, "It is super easy to do and still makes a bold statement."
When summer turns into fall, you know it's time to bust out those berry reds. Essie's Berry Naughty is one of our favorite polishes to include in multi-nail ombré looks.
If you're unsure which bright red shade would compliment a berry-toned polish like the one above, opt for a classic red ideal for all seasons like OPI's Red Heads Ahead.
This five-color ombré set makes it easy to incorporate red hues into your ombré manicure rotation for fall. Did we mention these long-lasting polishes are 7-free?
12. Glass Extensions
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."
This intro kit will have you leveling up in no time. It's an all-in-one, brush-on application offering long, natural looking nails that applies like a soft gel but wears like a hard gel. It truly is the best of both worlds.
If you love this nail design and want to attempt to DIY, Boyce recommends trying press-ons with glass extensions and leaving the tips unpainted. This kit by Makartt includes coffin nail tips, glue, and a file for convenient glass extensions in no time.
13. Negative-Space Nail Art
"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]."
At just $7, this kit gives you so many DIY options to create negative-space manicures in the comfort of your own home. The set features a 15pc nail art design set in addition to a drawing dotting painting pens, rhinestones, and more.
This set's line decals are so intricate. It includes six sheets of decals that are easy to use and incredibly time-saving. When applied with care and attention, they're also long-lasting.
14. Polka Dots
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 color 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.
If you don't already have a couple of bobby pins, then this deal is tough to beat. Hanna recommends using bobby pins like these to quickly and easily create your polka dot design.
15. DIY Designs
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.
These tiny brushes are essential for any aspiring nail artist wanting to create detailed and delicate fine line designs like the one pictured above. This Winstonia Nail Art Brushes Set is crafted from durable nylon hair, anti-shedding ferrules, and ergonomic wooden handles.
This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.
Drew Elovitz is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but has spent the last decade living and working in New York City. She earned a master's degree in media and popular culture from New York University, then began her career on the internet as the Twitter voice of Barbie. She worked previously at Who What Wear as the director of content strategy and also spent several years leading the social media teams at Teen Vogue and Entertainment Weekly. You'll find her byline on the site around topics such as celebrity fashion, must-have basics, beauty favorites (particularly nail polish), and wellness tips and tricks. Her personal style tends to favor the classics: She loves crisp white button-downs, sneakers, and skinny jeans—and no look is complete without a great pair of oversize sunglasses and a trusty leather jacket. After she finishes reading the entire internet every day, she can be found dining out at her favorite restaurants, trying new beauty treatments, or indulging her historical-fiction habit.
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