“Soft Nails” & Gold-Plated Manicures Will Take Off In 2024

Photo: Courtesy of Natalie Minerva.
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Here's the thing about nails, and why we love talking about them: they're personal. We each have unique preferences when it comes to our favourite nail colour of the moment or how we like our nails shaped. Then there's the biggest question: gel or regular polish?
We support both teams. Some people choose regular polish to avoid nail lamps and a cumbersome and sometimes damaging gel removal process. Others opt for services that keep their nails "done" for a full month choosing dip powder gels and builder-in-a-bottle gels. But this year, we're interested in the nail trends — both in niche designs we'll see and more general movements in nail health — that will take place in 2024. Here, we spoke to a few nail experts to glean insights into the upcoming trends.

A boom in nail care

Nail experts and artists alike are in agreement that nail health will be a priority in 2024. This doesn't necessarily mean bare nails, but a focus on products that help strengthen nails so they feel healthy, not thin or sensitive. "A well-shaped and glowing nail feels good and makes us feel well cared for," explains nail expert Jan Arnold, the co-founder of CND. "Plus, there are so many new, incredible breakthroughs in the nail industry to achieve beautiful nails."
Not sure where to start? A nail-repair serum is great, our editors named the OPI Nail Repair Serum one of the best beauty products of 2023. We'd also recommend a gentle, non-acetone polish remover. Then, every nail pro worth their salt extols the benefits of cuticle oil. Something like CND SolarOil will ward off dryness (hangnails) and keep the nail and nail bed hydrated.
A small investment in your at-home nail health routine will likely save you a lot of future spending at the salon, a factor to consider in 2024 budgeting.

Gold-plated accents

When thinking about who has their finger on the pulse of what's cool in nails, Natalie Minerva, the nail artist on Euphoria, is the name that comes to mind. We asked Minerva about the vibe she's feeling for 2024 and she said: Prepare for a gold moment. "We had such a big silver trend the last couple of years, and I think gold is making its way back onto the nail scene," says Minerva. Of course, gold nails are nothing new but Minerva says it's going to be a "flex" this year. "It’s always been associated with elegance and luxury," she explains, "like jewellery components on nails."
Minerva shows a gold chrome on short nails, but the trend is multifaceted. "Maybe start out with a gold glitter polish," offers Minerva. She recommends OPI I Mica Be Dreaming or Nature Strong Mind-full of Glitter. "If you like nail art, ask for gold chrome or gold studs," Minerva adds. If you're not interested in the time, money, or potential damage of a gel nail service, consider opting into the trend using OPI's Break The Gold Press-On Nails, which you can pop on at home and reuse.

"Soft" nails

According to Arnold, 'soft' will be a word used to describe a nail aesthetic for 2024. Of course, we're not using soft as a synonym for brittle and fragile nails, but in terms of easy and gentle colours that will "bring calm to the wearer," Arnold explains. "2023 was a wild and eclectic year for nails," explains Arnold. "2024 will feature a shift away from extremism and become more spiritual."
You can take this concept in different directions. A "soft" nail shape might involve a rounded tip. You can still have extended or elongated nails, but instead of a sharp square, this might read more as a softened stiletto or a curved almond shape. If you're looking for a soft-energy colour, you might consider blue, like a stone blue, which healers use to elicit a feeling of calm. Soft pink polish may be used to channel self love while light green may help connect to your vulnerable side. Whatever soft means to you, consider bringing it into your 2024 manicure.

Texture play

If you're paying close attention to the details of a manicure (which, let's face it, if you're reading this, you probably are), then you'll understand the nuanced texture of nail polish. There are sheer jelly colours, milky creams, velvety glitters, and shiny metallic chromes, to name a few. But this year, Arnold says, different textures will be worn "in concert" within the same manicure. "Creams and jelly colours will be mixed," offers Arnold. "We will see translucency in colour mixed with carefully curated bright, warm, and cream palettes." Here, We see green velvet and high-shine gloss complimenting each other with a shared colour scheme. Another idea? Play with texture using 3D nail art.

Aura 2.0

We saw aura nails take off this past summer. Oftentimes designs featured multiple bright tones, like orange, pinks, and reds with multiple oblong 'aura' splotches. This new take for 2024 is more subtle, according to nail artist Rita Remark. You want the 'aura' to be white in tone and almost imperceptible, almost like a faint strobe light. The key, according to Remark: The ombre fades from the middle of the nail outwards. "If you were to recreate this look at home, I'd use a small round sponge dabbed in the aura colour and lightly pressed into the middle of each nail," says Remark. "You may have to do this step a few times to achieve a perfect fade."

Sheer nudes

Some people consider a new year a time for a refresh, in which case a sheer nude manicure might be up your alley. "I feel like people love going back to the basics and starting fresh," offers nail artist Hannah Lee. "There's no better way than wearing a sheer or nude shade."
For a sheer nude manicure, you want a polish that is of course, sheer, but also nicely buildable so that you can up the opacity. "Some of my favourite shades are from Sally Hansen's good. kind. pure line," offers Lee. "The shades are Almond MilkCashew Butter, and Roasted Chestnut. They have a buildable formula so you can choose a more sheer look or more opaque."
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