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From squiggles to remixed Frenchies, these are the nail trends set to dominate 2021

Picture: Instagram
Picture: Instagram

Delicious mani inspo.

As sales of lipstick have dipped over the past year, nail polish is up. More of us have got creative with our fingertips and – thanks to everyday monotony – we're looking to spice up the areas of our life that we can. It means our manis are getting more intricate, more experimental and more out there.

Expect to see brights and kaleidoscopic infusions of colour, as well as some fresh and alternative twists on minimalism, too (simples lines are out, offbeat squiggles are in). These are the top trends we've seen emerging from our favourite nail creatives – and the ones likely to dominate your Insta feed this year.

Statement nails

Statement nails are in, just not as we know them. Rather than a stand-out colour, dinky slogans and messages are adoring nails. The trend accelerated over last summer with manis calling people to vote in the US election, but into this year they'll be used to spread joy and agendas.

Mixed metals

High-shine molten metals are one of the biggest trends to look out for in 2021. And you needn't stick to one, mix and match golds, silvers and chrome. "Chrome accents are a huge hit at the moment, especially against a neutral or contrasting base" says top celebrity nail manicurist, Michelle Humphrey, whose clients include Dua Lipa and Adele. "Think French, squiggles, stars, hearts, flames and ombre," says Michelle, all in a metal finish.

Squiggle nails

If there's one design you're about to see everywhere, it's squiggles. Neat and minimalist, bright and colourful, just across the tips, alternating across each nail – whichever way you want to wear them, there's room to personalise. "Swirls and squiggles are a huge trend," says Michelle. "Any design over negative space is great for this look as it's not too overwhelming (a design over a natural nail underneath). You could try it with a matte finish for a modern twist."

Remixed French mani

The 90s is back, and it's brought with it the French manicure. Celebs such as Gigi Hadid and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley have been rocking it recently, but with simple updates to make it feel modern. "You can modernise your Frenchies by wearing a tapered square or long almond shape," says Michelle. Wear it subtly, with a superfine white outline, go for exaggerated tips by amping up the white accent, or switch up the colour by swapping in shades like blue, gold, and coral instead of traditional white.

Opal/crystal nails

Our nails have been taking notes from our jewellery. As well as round our wrists and in our ears, gems like opal and crystals have been the inspiration behind this pretty mani trend.

Velvet nails

Textured nails are taking off and among them, is the velvet mani. Word of warning though: try them on a day that you don't need to get much done so you don't get distracted by the shine. It's hypnotising.

Alternate and abstract

"Abstract nails are trending - particularly manicures where each nail has a different design," says Michelle. "I love the fact that it’s fun and completely bespoke." The best part is you can personalise it so that no nail looks the same, and you can switch up the design on each finger with the colours or the details that you love.

Sugar plum pink

As for shades, delicate lilacs and soft sugar plums are the pastel to get behind this year. It's pretty, and it's a change from the ice cream shades that come round each spring.

Green gradients

Following on from last year, every-shade-of-green continues to dominate the social feeds of our favourite nail influencers. From oddball olive shades, vintage chartreuse, mid-moss, and now, the incoming brights, there's a green for every occasion.

Tondal nudes

"The classic nude nail comes around every season," says Michelle, "because it's easy to wear and complementary to any length or shape." But to mix it up and keep it interesting, "wear your nude darker and more saturated during the cooler months and leave the brighter, more peach and pink tones for the spring and summer.

I'm loving Standing Ovation by MaxFactor Nailfinity, a beautiful mauve nude and the Masterpiece Xpress 60 Second Nail Polish in Nude'Itude. Both are perfect for right now"

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