All dressed up and nowhere to go? We know the feeling. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the change in seasons and embrace the latest wave of fall trends. While restocking your wardrobe may not feel feasible or even necessary this year, we’re excited to try out the earthy, muted, and moody tones of autumn with an at-home manicure. That’s right—even if you can’t remember the last time you had a professional tend to your tips and toes, this year’s lineup of fall trends is easy enough to DIY.
To get a jump start on the season, we reached out to a few of our favorite nail experts to hear firsthand what to expect in terms of colors, innovations, and trends this fall. Think of it as an at-home mani consultation that will help guide you through the season ahead. Even better? You’ll know exactly what to ask for when nail salons reopen in your area—just remember to sanitize, wear a face mask, and tip generously.
Until then, keep scrolling for inspiration and advice from our pros in New York and Los Angeles.
1. Moody Blues
“I’ve always gravitated towards blues for fall,” shared Lisa Logan, consulting manicurist for Nails Inc. and owner of The Nail Suite in Harlem, New York. Brittney Boyce, a consulting nail artist for Orly based in L.A., agrees, noting she thinks denim-inspired blues will be big this season.
Nocturnal blues are always chic and look great for the season.
2. Tonal Browns & Opaque Nudes
Fall is the perfect time to experiment with nude hues across the spectrum. “I think people will also be gravitating toward edgier nudes, something other than a classic beige or pink,” predicts Jin Soon Choi, the expert nail artist and founder of JinSoon nail polish based in New York City. All our pros concurred, each sharing a different go-to shade.
This new shade from Olive & June's recently launched fall collection is also broadly appealing.
3. Earth Tones
Earth tones are huge for fall among the fashion set. “This fall, we are going to be seeing a lot of earthy-inspired shades,” predicts Mazz Hanna, the L.A.-based celebrity manicurist and founder of Mazz Hanna Beauty.
Boyce concurs, explaining, “With the pandemic going on for so long, we want colors that are more grounding.” We couldn’t agree more.
Aligned with the fashion industry’s trend toward earth tones, everyone is predicting nature-inspired greens will be in favor for fall manicures.
4. Range of Reds
On the other side of the color wheel, our pros anticipate a wide range of reds dominating the DIY-manicure scene this season. Inspired by fashion weeks past, Choi shares, “I expect to see a selection of beautiful reds, from the classic blue tone to hot orange-reds. This was popular amongst designers such as Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein at their NYFW shows.”
"I'm obsessed with Orly's Wild Abandon," confesses Hanna. "It's a new take on that old classic, and the long-lasting formula plus patented brush makes professional application achievable at home," she explains.
5. Classic Black
Similarly, Choi is excited to see black nails back in the mix come autumn. “Black is always a great shade for fall and winter. It can go with many different styles. A shiny black manicure is very modern and chic, while a cool, chipped finish (such as the manicure we did this past season for Khaite) gives an edge to your look.”
A shiny, quick-dry topcoat with retinol? Yes, please.
6. Gel Extensions
For those who have used this time at home to perfect their DIY-manicure skills, try adding gel extensions to your repertoire. Boyce is particularly keen for folks to get their hands on Orly's new Fast Forms product, which makes it possible to create gel extensions quickly and safely at home.
"This kit helps create that perfect curve apex quickly so you don't have to spend a lot of time sculpting it," says Boyce. "When you're creating clear extensions like the glass French tips, you need it to look perfect and precise, and the fast forms make it very easy to do it," she explains.
If you consider yourself less savvy in the DIY department, you’re in luck: Press-on styles are back in a big way. “Salons are offering them now, and tons of nail stylists are creating press-ons with nail art,” shares Logan. They’re also widely available online for easy at-home application.
These long, sculpted styles are actually pretty easy to apply.
8. Nail Stickers & Wraps
Are you somewhere in between an at-home-manicure master and a DIY novice? Nail stickers and wraps are the way to go. “I see that gel nail stickers are one of the most popular emerging products. People like the convenience of an instant manicure,” shares Choi.
Similarly, Hanna is a big fan of nail wraps, which completely cover the nail bed in a single color or with an intricate design. “Nail wraps offer a salon-quality, long-lasting manicure that dries instantly in the comfort of your own home.”
For fans of nail wraps, Hanna swears by the brand ManiMe. "They have a really interesting technology that creates custom-cut gel nail wraps, and they collaborate with some really amazing artists," she shares. Her favorite is this celestial design with nail artist Hang Nguyen, pictured above.
9. Classic French
Nail salons that have been able to open are seeing a rise in popularity of the classic French manicure. Those who have been able to safely see private clients during COVID-19 are also doing more French manicures since the clean, crisp style helps elevate any look.
Of course, we know it takes a steady hand to create the perfect tips at home, so this one might be best left to the pros. With that in mind, Boyce reminds us to consider tipping more than usual since many nail techs have been unable to work for several months and salons are limiting their capacity for everyone’s safety.
This is the white nail polish that started it all.
10. Buffed Nails
Finally, for those looking for a polished look without the polish application, Hanna is a big fan of the natural or buffed manicure. “A clean, natural buff is low-maintenance and beautiful,” she says, relating this trend to the more pared-back routines that we’ve seen in the hair and makeup spaces lately.
One critical step in achieving this look is cuticle care. As Hanna reminds us, “healthy cuticles equal healthy nails.”
It's never a bad idea to upgrade your nailcare kit.
COVID-19 Safety Precautions at Nail Salons
One fall nail trend that all of our pros agreed on was that safety comes first. With that in mind, we asked our experts what to expect as nail salons begin to reopen.
“As a salon owner, my priority is just making sure we protect the client and our team at all costs,” explains Logan.
Choi agrees, sharing, “At JinSoon [spas], we have constructed plexiglass dividers and require all clients and technicians to wear masks and sanitize often, (when arriving, between and during appointments, etc.),” and reminds us that while walk-ins may be welcome, most salon waiting rooms are closed, so it’s best to make an appointment in advance.