If we're being honest, we've been thinking about winter nails since spring. There are just so many great nail trends out there that we could easily fill an entire calendar. And with 2021 almost behind us (insert huge sigh of relief here) and a new season nigh, we thought: Why not celebrate by sharing some of our favorite winter nail designs? After all, whether you've made a safe, triumphant return to your favorite nail tech's station at the salon or you're continuing to do our own manicures — we'd bet you've gotten really good at them — Instagram has offered endless creative inspiration for end-of-year looks.
Luckily, nail artists have been pumping out awe-inspiring nail looks like it's no big deal (talent like this totally is, though), and we've been keeping tabs on all of the ones we want to try come wintertime. Ahead, you'll find a diverse array of designs for every kind of aesthetic taste. There are festive jewel-toned creations, new and exciting ways to wear sparkle, astrology-themed art, ombré, and much more. (Plus, some insight and product suggestions from the creators themselves.)
Now, without further ado: All the winter nail inspiration you need to get you through the season.
All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
1. Martini Mani
Betina Goldstein proves that nail art needn't be literal. Even without a martini glass painstakingly painted on each nail, it's obvious that this manicure is inspired by the pimento-stuffed manzanilla olives that traditionally garnish the gin-and-vermouth cocktail — something we wouldn't mind sipping by the fireplace this winter. With its solid base and simple circles, it's chic and easy art that can be done at home, and on any length nail.
2. Amethyst Nails
Amethyst is easily one of the most beloved winter birthstones, but you don't have to be born in February to admire its beauty — or want to interpret it as winter nail art. Welsh nail artist Grace Andrew created this gemstone look by mixing several Ugly Duckling gel colors together for a variegated effect, topped off by organic-looking lines swiped on with a skinny nail brush.
3. Tapered Curves
This abstract idea is so simple yet so chic for a winter manicure. A rich beige polish makes for a classic base, but black tapered curves — some sprouting from the tips and some from the cuticles — add a cute yet boldly contrasting element. Although created by a nail artist at Paintbox in New York City, a steady hand and two polishes are all you need to recreate this yourself at home. Feel free to mix up the color combination.
4. Galaxy Nails
Galaxy nails have been trending for quite some time, and it's easy to see why. How stunning is this magical manicure? With the right magnetic, iridescent polish in a deep, dark color — nail artist India Jade used Pure Nails Halo Gel Polish in Luna, but KBShimmer makes a number of non-gel magnetic polishes — you can easily recreate a gorgeous, wintry night sky on your fingertips.
5. Monochromatic Crocodile Nails
Nail artist Zoe created an animal-scale texture illusion by adding a pattern of wavy blocks of glossy polish atop a matte base. With black for both finishes, the look is remarkably versatile, leaving the boldness up to the long, pointy shape. And darker shades are always a welcome pick for winter manicures.
6. Jewel-Tone Splatters
Festive winter nails don't have to come in traditional holiday colors. Jewel tones always look amazing in the wintertime, and on a manicure, a blend of several is even more special. Here, nail artist Alma used Dip Hustle Co's Teal Armor dip — a gorgeous green base with yellow and rose gold foil pieces — to create an elegant splattered effect. And here's a fun way to take advantage of winter's longer nights: This particular polish glows in the dark.
7. Black & White Squiggles
While an expert nail artist like India Jade may have an especially easy time created this high-contrast manicure, it's not a difficult project for at-home amateurs either. Cute on all nail lengths, this look requires only a black polish, white polish, skinny nail brush, topcoat, and a desire to doodle on your nails. No need to try to copy this exactly — there's no wrong way to draw on the curvy lines, and any color combination you love besides black and white will look lovely, too.
8. Icy Cuticles
You may avoid ice when you're walking or driving during the coldest months of the year, but an icy effect on the nails is a winter-wonderful idea for a manicure. Betina Goldstein keeps it simple but still summons the glam with this creation, keeping the base clear and glossy. The stand-out detail of this nail art is the silver pieces along the cuticles — Goldstein tells Allure she used crushed metallic pieces from the craft store — extending halfway up the sides of the nails. It's giving benevolent ice queen, don't you think?
9. Twinkling Tiger Stripes
How do you make a tiger-stripe manicure even more fierce? Try deep, winter-perfect, sparkling shades of purple instead of the usual orange and black. Nail artist Claudia created this moody take on an animal print by using CND's Dark Dahlia and Drama Queen shades — a midnight purple and shimmering magenta, respectively — for the two-tone stripes. It's moody yet party-ready — and isn't that the default winter vibe?
10. Black & Bright
Winter doesn't have to mean switching from bright colors to dark ones. You can embrace both with a French moon manicure like this one by Goldstein. She used Chanel's Boy De Chanel Colour in Black as the base on every nail and switched it up on the tips and moons of each one with Le Vernis Nail Colours in Harmony, Melody, Cruise, Arancio Vibrante, Egéríe, and Mirage. It's a combination that lets you hold onto the vibrant shades you love while incorporating the moody darkness so often seen in winter nail looks.
11. Champagne Sparkle Nails
"I love combining different glitter polishes for the perfect winter wonderland look," Canishiea Robinson tells Allure of this sparkly two-toned manicure. To get this look at home, you'll need two glitter nail polishes (Essie's Summit of Style and Zoya's Magical Pixie Dust will do the trick) and mini faux pearl appliques, which you can find at just about any craft store, as well as on Amazon. This set features ones with flat bottoms so they're easier to apply.
12. Gold Foil Nails
This green and gold manicure by Robinson looks straight out of an art museum — and that's exactly the vibe she was going for. "Negative space, color blocking, and watercolor designs are so eye-catching," she says. "These combined with a translucent background and gold foil make all the elements shine." Believe it or not, you can score both gold and silver foil on Amazon for as little as $5.
To achieve the watercolor effect shown here on the mustard nails, simply dip a small sponge in a tiny amount of polish and dab it on lightly. Then finish off with a glossy topcoat (like this one) and your foil.
13. Modern Candy Cane Nails
"I love a deep rich burgundy paired with color blocking and line work," says Robinson in regards to her inspiration for this look. "Together they create the perfect winter manicure." This abstract, geometric style design is a great go-to for beginners because it really only requires some basic painting and a little line work. So long as you have a deep red, pearlescent white, and true black polish on hand — as well as a toothpick for doing the thin stripes — you'll be good to go.
14. Scorpio Szn Nails
Los Angeles-based nail artist Nia Ho is the brains behind this brilliant astrology-inspired look, which features cosmic details and subtle touches of sparkle. "For this Scorpio nail look, I used mostly black color on every nail, as well as some holographic black and silver glitter," Ho tells Allure. "I also hand-drew the little stars with white nail polish and used chunky glitter to create the galaxy sky."
You can definitely make this Scorpio-themed manicure your own by switching up the designs. That being said, you'll want to have some black and white polish on hand, along with both fine and chunky glitter options, too. It also couldn't hurt to get a stencil or a sticker (such as this one) for the scorpion itself.
15. Multicolored Marble Nails
Ho calls this magical multicolored manicure her "freestyle marble look," and well, it's definitely a fitting name. "I first applied a teal base color on the whole nail and then added white and black to create a marble effect," she says of her process. "Then I cured them in LED light and applied a teal jelly polish on top. Lastly, I tapped a little gold foil on each nail to finish it." Don't have a perfect teal polish in your collection yet? We recommend Sally Hansen's Miracle Gel Nail Polish in Combustealble (a true blue-green teal hue with minimal shimmer).
16. Gold Sparkle Striped Nails
This stunning style is another one that's ideal for folks who are new to nail art. It doesn't require much legwork or that you know any tricky techniques, so it's inherently less intimidating than some of the other manicures on this list.
"For this look, you can use a clear or sheer natural color for the base — then use white and black nail polish to create your shapes before adding the thin gold lines," explains Ho. "Getting the gold line as straight as possible is the most important aspect because the black and white parts underneath will be covered by the gold, so it ultimately doesn’t matter if they're not perfect," she says.
17. Gilded Dipped Nails
This ultra-glamorous red and gold manicure comes courtesy of nail-art queen Park Eunkyung Unistella, who's famous for her dreamy, out-of-this-world designs. To achieve a similar look at home, apply a pair of glossy red press-ons and then paint the tips with an opaque gold polish, like Essie's Good As Gold or Nabi's Mirror Effect Nail Polish in Gold. Oh, as for those gorgeous gold decals? You can score them on unistella.com.
18. Snow Day Nails
To recreate Unistella's epic snowflake manicure, you'll want to get yourself a set of clear acrylic nails (the shape is of course up to you), some glue that dries translucent, and, most importantly, fake snow, like the kind in this packet, which can be used for all kinds of arts and crafts. Once you've got your supplies on deck, apply a little glue to each acrylic and wait for it to get tacky — then sprinkle some of the faux snow onto each nail and play with it until you're happy with the finished look.
19. Evergreen Dream Nails
Another amazing idea for those new to the nail-art world is this shimmery emerald manicure by celebrity nail artist Gina Edwards. "A quick tip for achieving strong lines when doing your nails like this is to use Scotch Tape," she tells Allure. For this particular look, Edwards used the Sinful Colors Shine Gel Tech Polish in Magic Dragon, though any shimmery dark green shade will work just the same.
20. Maroon Marble Nails
"This dusty plum shade is a great transition color if you're afraid of going too dark with your winter nails," says Houston-based nail artist Cecily Ellis, who runs the account @cgoldnglam on Instagram. Her advice for recreating this look? "The accent nails can be done by using a nail art brush to create the marble lines, and the beauty of marble is that there's no perfect way of doing it."
Product-wise, Winstonia's Super Fine Nail Art Brush is a solid and inexpensive option. And as for the dusty plum polish, this one by Tammy Taylor Nails is beautiful, as is OPI's Malaga Wine.
21. Winter Pink Ombré Nails
"This french ombré design is a great way to maintain a classic look but still be on-trend," says Ellis, who adds that the best way to get a super seamless ombré finish like this is to use a makeup sponge with white polish. "Doing a glam accent nail using gold glitter or flakes is also a great way to take it up a notch during the holiday season."
22. Heavy Metal Ombré Nails
Don't be fooled: This edgy metallic manicure is less complex than it looks. In fact, it can easily be recreated at home with any neutral shimmery shades in your collection. "Use a fan makeup brush to lightly metallic glitter onto the tips of your nails for an extra special effect," says Ellis, who adds: "My inspiration for this set was NYE — there's nothing better than a little sparkle to help bring in the new year, especially on your fingertips."
23. Leopard Print Nails
Who says animal print isn't winter-appropriate? No one, that's who. So why not wear the fun style on your nails this season? For this look specifically, Ellis used a true holiday-red polish, little gold studs, and gold leaf to top the accent nails for a super-glam feel.
24. Next-Level Red Nails
For this festive negative space look by Robinson, you'll need your favorite shimmery red nail polish, a gold shade of your choosing — and of course, a dotting tool (like this one), as this will help you get a really precise finish. In terms of execution, simply paint each nail red, starting just slightly away from the nail bed, and then add a gold dot in the space between your cuticle and the polish.
25. Golden Eye Nails
Another foolproof winter nail look to try is this unique gilded take on the French manicure by Ho. In addition to gold, black, blue, and white polishes, you'll also need a fine line brush to create the eye on the accent nail. You can also use tape for the tips to ensure they come out looking extra clean and polished.
26. Animal Print-Tipped Nails
This animal print design done by Ho is yet another fun twist on the classic French manicure, and it's surprisingly easy to execute. A few items you'll want to have on hand include black, clear, and terracotta-toned polishes, a sponge to get the subtle marbling effect on the tips, and an ultra-shiny topcoat, like CND's Super Shiny High-Gloss Topcoat. To get this look, paint your nails with a light pink or ivory nail polish, and then use your beauty sponge to blend the black and brown shades together for the marble finish. You can also use a toothpick to swirl the colors together until you're happy with how it looks. Then apply a topcoat to add extra shine and longevity.
27. Blue and Gold Holographic Nails
This dazzling holographic design by nail artist Savannah Walker is perfect for beginners and experts alike who prefer a shorter nail look. Start off by applying a clear base coat and then create the blue triangle designs on each digit using an aqua-colored polish (this one), that's also holographic. Then simply outline each triangle in gold using a fine line brush — that, or a toothpick will also do the trick. Finish with a shiny topcoat to seal everything in place and prevent chipping.
28. Glam Nude Nails
This gorgeous look created by Flordia-based artist Sophia Fraccalvieri is proof that nude nails do not have to be basic or boring. All you need is an opaque, beige-colored polish and holographic nail decals (such as these or these).
29. Black French Tipped Nails
Walker created this sophisticated manicure with a pearlescent base coat and creamy jet-black polish — indeed, it's that simple. Of course, you'll probably want to use a stencil or fine line brush when doing the tips, but so long as you have a steady hand, you should be just fine.
30. Artsy Pine Tree Nails
How freaking cool is this abstract pine tree design by Fraccalvieri? She calls the look "art ink trees" and created it using products from Bio Seaweed Gel USA and Magpie Beauty. Depending on your artistic abilities, you could do this with a sponge, a stencil, or even freehand if you dare.
31. Silver Drip Nails
A great way to take the drip nail-art trend into winter is by using metallic colors, like nail artist Sarah Thompson did here, as sparkle and glitter are often associated with wintertime, the holidays, and snow. A few silver polishes we adore are Sally Hansen's Xtreme Wear in Silver Storm, Color Club's Halographic Hues Nail Polish in Harp On It, and OPI's Infinite Shine in The Latest. As for how to create the drip design, your best bet is to use a tiny detail brush — or a stencil like this one from Amazon.