15 Winter Nail Colors and Trends You Won’t Be Able to Resist

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It's cold out there—make sure your mani is red hot with this winter's best nail colors.

Even if you spend most of the winter bundled up, there are still parts of you worth showing off all year long. And let’s not forget about that moment of pure joy when you slip your hands out of your gloves to show off your favorite new nail polish. So, now that fall is over, what are the hottest winter nail colors and trends that should be on your radar?

From rich, jewel-toned hues to dupes for frosty snowflakes, winter nails aren’t following one set of rules right now. We’re still seeing a lot of nail art, but it’s less cutesy and more architectural. For example, according to celebrity nail artist Brittney Boyce, founder of Nails of LA, instead of going with an overt candy-cane look, opt for a “chic, angled half-French in a sultry red, or do a half white nail with a diagonal cut across that looks clean and elevated.” You also won’t find just the typical wintery shades this year—you might see pastels on the chicest nails. If we had to sum up winter 2021/2022 in a word, it would be unexpected or bold.

We asked celebrity nail artists and other experts for their take on what’s trending right now so you can take your manicure to the next level. To get salon-quality results, use non-toxic polishes and gel nail polishes. And if you’re planning to DIY your nails, we have tips on how to achieve the perfect at-home manicure and remove gel nail polish.

Nail trend: A hint of sparkle

Don’t overdo the shimmer on your winter nail designs—a small amount will do the trick for this 2022 trend. Even if you use polish with chunky glitter in it, add only a dab or two. The idea is to catch the light, not pile on the glitter. “Adding a bit of sparkle is a great way to put a classic spin on a French mani and is also perfect for the winter,” says Jennifer Bell, senior marketing manager of Bellacures, a stylish West Coast chain of nail salons.

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Nail trend: Browns, taupes, and chocolatey shades

Winter is the time of year you can match your mani to your hot drink! “We will continue to see a lot of neutral browns and chestnuts throughout the winter,” Bell predicts. There are so many gorgeous shades in this family that you can take it from nearly nude to deep sueded shades, depending on your mood. No matter which winter nail color you choose, here’s how to make your manicure last longer.

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Nail trend: A touch of gray

Expect to see a lot of steely, slate, silver, or pale gray polish this season. “We [particularly] love a wintertime gray with a shimmery finish,” Bell says. Grays look great on nearly everyone, but a good rule of thumb (as it were) is that if you’re not sure which gray shade to choose, opt for a darker one because it flatters more skin tones.

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Nail trend: Naked nails

Believe it or not, one of the hottest winter nail looks is perfectly pampered hands and cuticles with barely any polish. “Nude nails have been a beauty staple for years and are back with a new twist that embraces the barely-there look,” says Patricia Freund, managing director for Cuccio Naturalé (aka the brand whose cuticle oil has more than 77,000 positive reviews on Amazon). While nude or barely there polish is a classic look, it also makes sense when many of us will be spending time in the kitchen preparing holiday feasts. There’s no need to worry about chipping a nail or ruining your nail art!

Freund advises applying cuticle oil daily “to maintain hydrated and healthy nails throughout the winter and keep the ‘less is more’ nude manicure looking fresh all season.” One more tip for your tips: While short nails make sense during glove season, a look that’s gaining traction right now is a slightly longer oval nail with the sheerest polish, perfectly groomed cuticles, and moisturized hands.

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Nail trend: Red hot

It wouldn’t be winter without classic red winter nails in every shade from spicy tomato to deep burgundy blacks. “We’ll also continue to see classic deep reds throughout the winter,” notes Bell. If you do plan on painting the town—or at least your nails—red, opt for a chip-proof top coat so you won’t have to keep touching up your mani.

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Nail trend: Black

Classic black will be having a moment this winter. “The opposite of the opaque white trend for spring/summer is onyx—shiny patent leather nails,” says celebrity manicurist Michelle Saunders. It’s all about high contrast and showing off your sparkly jewelry with this winter nail idea. Think black tie meets high fashion. Saunders says for maximum impact, be sure to use a high-shine top coat. This super affordable Pueen latex tape can also help you get salon-level DIY manicures.

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Nail trend: Glitter ombré tips

If don’t want to go all-out with glitter, try using just a hint of it in your nail art. Boyce’s advice? “Apply a strip of glitter polish on the tip, then gently drag the glitter chunks downward with the brush. This way, most of the glitter is on the tip and you’ll get a nice ombré effect.” You can also experiment with this effect to add a little oomph to your favorite shade. “Do this on a bare nail, a nude nail, a white nail, or even a darker one,” Boyce says. But if you’re going dark, stick to a neutral shade like a dark taupe or dark blue so there aren’t too many competing elements.

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Nail trend: Forest inspired

While the trees may be stripped bare, your nails will look amazing in a leafy-green polish. “All kinds of greens are still in the forefront of people’s minds,” Saunders says. And while you’d think deep, lush greens were the only trending verdant hues, you can also go playful and polish your nails any shade of green for an on-trend winter manicure. By the way, here’s what your favorite nail color reveals about your personality.

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Nail trend: Baby shades

Despite light colors usually making an appearance in spring, Saunders says, “we are going to see a ‘pastel winter’ with muted, serene colors on fingertips.” Picture Easter-egg hues on your winter nails. If you’re not sure that light colors are your thing in the winter, opt for colors that are classic, not cutesy. Think shell pink instead of bubblegum, or shimmery apricot instead of a bolder orange.

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ART: Please use an image of the color Birthday Cake for the last one.

Nail trend: Blue Christmas

This winter nail color isn’t just for Christmas—you can rock it all season long. “Blue will win the race for this winter,” Saunders says. She’s predicting that everything from baby blue to deep metallic blue will be on all the chic nails this season. “It’s a nod to the ’90s, and super fun to create nail art with,” she adds. Looking to do something special with your New Year’s Eve nail look? We’ve got a bunch of fun suggestions.

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ART: Please use an image of the color River for this last one.

Nail trend: Rich jewel tones

If you love the look of lush nails, get ready to indulge. “Deep gemstone colors are always a classic during wintertime,” Saunders says, “and that isn’t changing anytime soon.” Add some oomph to your holiday LBD with any of these rich colors. Think ruby, emerald, sapphire, and amethyst for a super luxe look.

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Nail trend: Gold half moon

“Winter is a fun time to play up shimmer and texture,” Boyce says, adding that not all winter nail art needs to be complicated. “A gold half moon near the cuticle is simple nail art that makes a big statement. You can play up different types of metallic shades for this [trend] depending on your look, from a standard gold to rose gold to even a bright orange bronze shade.” Boyce notes that both Orly and her own brand Nails of LA offer guides to create this style. Make sure to keep your nails healthy with a top-rated cuticle oil.

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Nail trend: Dark meets light

Create a bit of drama with mostly sheer nails and a hint of a darker colors. “For winter, I like dark, still shades because it reminds me of just how quiet it gets during the holidays at night,” Boyce says. Think muted blues or purples contrasted with barely-there color, like in this Nails of LA example. “While black gives a lot of edge, you can soften it up with midnight navy or dark forest green shades,” she adds.

How can you create this look at home? “An Angled Half French can be achieved easily by using washi tape as a guide and a dry brush dipped in nail polish remover to clean up the edges,” explains Boyce. “You then use a glossy top coat over the entire nail for a finished look.”

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Nail trend: Classic French tips in metallic shades

If you can’t get through the winter without a French mani, consider mixing things up. “A classic French tip using a shimmery shade on an oval-shaped nail, either short to medium length, looks really gorgeous for the holidays,” Boyce says, adding that the easiest way to get the perfect French tip is with a silicone nail stamper. Stampers are easy to use, but they come with a bit of a learning curve, so practice before that big event. If you’re not comfortable with a stamper, try dotting on a design with a nail art brush or using a fan brush to create a softened tip.

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Nail trend: All the winter colors

Still can’t decide which winter nail color or trend is your favorite? You don’t have to choose. Simply paint each nail a different color for maximum wow. The experts we spoke with for this story all said winter nails this season are more about self-expression rather than sticking to any particular trend. Next, turn your attention downward and check out our tips for the best DIY pedicure ever.

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Woman holds in hands collection of color nail polish samplesBogdan Kovenkin/Getty Images

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Rachel Weingarten
Rachel Weingarten is an award-winning freelance writer specializing in beauty, fashion, lifestyle, career/business and tech. She's the author of 3 award-winning books, and co-founder of a national non-profit, the RWR Network.