6 Winter Nail Trends For Your Holiday Manicure

Photo: Courtesy of Sara Tan.
The other day, a friend from London asked me, 'Are people still doing that glazed-donut thing on their nails?' I laughed remembering where the trend all began — in an interview, Hailey Bieber told us that her manicurist rubs chrome dust over her nails and TikTok coined it the 'glazed donut' manicure. Obviously, the reach was global.
I offer that the concept of a glazed-donut manicure is still very much in because of how versatile it is (you can add chrome to any base polish color, which makes it kind of timeless). However, if you're thinking about alternative trendy nail-art designs — maybe for a holiday party — we have a few ideas. Ahead, we're giving you the manis that our editors are wearing this fall into winter. Scroll ahead for our recs.

Velvet nails

A trend by a few different names, velvet nails, the cat-eye, or magnetic gels, this look involves a sparkle polish and a magnet. To get the look, R29 Beauty Director Sara Tan went to a Lou’s Beauty Bar in Hermosa Beach and saw Mimi, an artist who specializes in Japanese gel manicures. Basically, what happens is you pick your base color — a sandy beige is a solid neutral option — then the artist holds a magnet to the gel, which essentially lifts the sparkle to create a velour-like finish.
Truthfully, we don't really understand how this works. But here, nail artist Queenie Nguyen shows a closeup of her process. She uses the Velvet Vision Gel Effects Collection by OPI, which comes in six different shades — plus the magnet, of course. This isn't an at-home system, because it's a gel that has to be cured, but if you nail artist or local salon carries the OPI line, you should be able to ask for it.

Comic nails

"Have you ever heard of 'comic' nails?" was a question that recently dropped in our R29 Slack channel. I was clueless, but a bit of digging proved that 'pop art' or 'comic book' nails are circulating on TikTok. Celebrity nail artist Elle showed us her take. "For my version of the #PopArtNails, I chose neutral tones to make it more sophisticated and fun for fall," she says. On each nail, she outlined the neutral base shade with black polish and then added "a curved exclamation point" for the caricature-like 'pop.'

Red half-moon nails

Popularized by burlesque icon Dita Von Teese, the red half-moon manicure is experiencing a modern renaissance. Beauty expert Cat Quinn cites popular media as a big player in the trend explosion. In Don't Worry, Darling, Olivia Wilde's character wears a red half-moon manicure. We also see Taylor Swift wearing the same design in her 'Bejeweled' music video. Von Tesse makes cameos in both productions.
To try it: Use a small brush to trace around the arch of your cuticle growth (you can see this on your bare nail), then fill in the rest of your nail with polish. The result is minimal, but classically chic.

Glass nails

The 'glass nail' trend comes imported from Korea. This is a gel manicure that uses foils to create the illusion of shattered glass on your fingernails. It takes a bit of time, as the foil have to be applied individually, like a mosaic, but the result is super intricate. This manicure is one of my most complimented, ever.

Moonlight nails

We're slowly seeing an uptick in this trend of a 'moonlight' manicure. In essence, the style is a white nail with a reflective pearlescent finish. Here, Hannah Harris, the founder of Brown Girl Hands, shows the trend, wearing a press-on manicure, Glamnetic Reusable Press-On Nails in Moonlight. You could also try this trend at the salon, using a white pearlescent gel or dip powder. At home, you could use a white polish with a shimmer top coat.

Aura Nails

For a more colorful option, try aura nails, a rising trend designed to match your nails to your energy field. As R29's Maybelle Morgan shows here, the gel art design involves a neutral base coat and then a blooming gel polish. (Ask if you salon carries The Gel Bottle, they make a blooming gel that allows for any droplet of color placed on top to fade into an aura-like orb.) Another popular technique you can find on TikTok: Paint a base coat and then airbrush your 'aura' color over top. If you're more into DIY, you can find hand-painted press-ons on Etsy (who knew?). Or, try these nail-art sheets that allow you to create a 3D aura design on your natural nail.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy or click on something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

More from Nails

R29 Original Series