It’s official: 2022 is the year where manicures steal the spotlight. Don’t get us wrong, makeup trends are off the charts and we’re still prioritizing skincare, but a quick scroll through social media proves that nails have become an accessory in their own right. From funky designs made easy by press-ons to up-and-coming nail shapes and gemstone appliqués, the 2022 nail trends are unmatched. “The vibe is definitely colorful and full of nail art—especially with the nostalgia of the early 2000s,” says Tammy Taylor, nail artist and founder of Tammy Taylor Nails. “Experiment with different lengths, shapes, and colors. Think outside the box and wear nails that make you happy.”
While the options are quite literally endless, we’ve tapped a team of nail pros to boil down the most popular manicure trends this year. And trust us: there’s truly something for everyone. Whether you’re into a subtle and sophisticated aesthetic or an over-the-top vibe á la Euphoria, this list has it all. Keep scrolling because we’re rounding up the best 2022 nail trends, ahead.
“It’s all about color combining,” nail artist Elle Gerstein explains. “Whether you do a swirl pattern or an abstract design, if the color combinations work together it becomes its own story.” Not sure how to mix and match? Start with two hues from the same color family.
Just as we’ve seen a Y2K revival across makeup and fashion, the early aughts have also made their mark on manicures. “We’re bringing out the space-age nail polish with multi-faceted shimmers and cosmic colors,” says nail artist Deborah Lippmann. Taylor agrees, explaining that orbs and swirls inspired by space are on the up.
It’s unanimous: press-on nails are taking over. “I think during the pandemic, people started experimenting with nail designs and art at home, so now I’m seeing a lot of do-it-yourself manicures,” says Chaun Legend, the Lottie London Artist in Residence. From graphic designs and velvet textures to wavy swirls, you can rock a different look on the daily.
Short and Square
While long acrylics have their time and place, Lippmann is seeing an uptick in shorter styles as client’s schedules start picking up. Short nails can be any shape under the sun (read: oval, squoval, round—the list goes on), but Gerstein predicts a square-shaped resurgence.
From simple vertical lines to intersecting stripes and half moons, Lippmann explains that simple, subtle nail art is here to stay. Plus, these looks are easy to DIY—all you need is a detail brush.
All About Abstract
Taylor, Legend, and Lippmann agree: freestyle designs that give off a graffiti vibe are taking over this year. The good news? You don’t need to be a pro to achieve the look. You can simply grab a set of press-ons or use the Tammy Taylor Blooming Art Gel to master a diffused, watercolor pattern.
Manicures that “mimic the look of seashells” or have an opalescent finish should stay top of mind this year, according to Lippmann. Her go-to shade? The Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro in Starstruck, which has a stunning champagne shimmer.
Oh, the Euphoria effect. Taylor emphasized the huge influence the show’s over-the-top acrylics have had on the nail space. From blinged out manicures to metal studs, it’s safe to say that nails have gotten a sparkly upgrade in 2022.
“Foil is a very big look right now,” Gerstein says. Adding a metal accent or a gold stripe is an easy, impactful way to up the ante on your manicure. If nail art isn’t your thing, reach for a polish with metallic flecks. We love the Painbox Single Nail Lacquer in Like Gilded.
“Classic and simple designs like flowers, smiles, stars, and flames [are trending],” says Taylor. While free-handing these looks might be a little tricky, nail stickers (we like the Inked by Dani designs!) are super easy to apply. Just cut your desired “tattoo” from the sheet, soak it onto your nail with water, and seal it in with a top coat.
While you’re going to need to pay a visit to a professional to achieve this look, the final result is well worth it. “You actually take an object and embed it in the gel,” says Gerstein. “It creates a lot of dimension.” This look can be tailored to your individual style, so experiment with pressed flowers, gold flakes, lace appliqués—whatever sparks joy.
Funky French Manicures
A standard pink and white combination is classic, but Taylor has noticed more and more people color blocking their French manicures with bold hues. Think: a sheer, pink base with a bright tip. The trend also works in reverse. Keep the tip white and play with a different color base coat.
Legend predicts that coffin nails, which are long with a flat, tapered tip, are going to dominate this year. “It’s going to be a big trend amongst celebrities on red carpets and at awards shows,” he says. If your nails are on the shorter side, but you still want to get in on the action, press-on nails are the best bet.
The iconic “Bottega green” is making its way onto manicures. “Green nail designs, even just a tip or mixed with another shade, are a great way to bring a little bit of runway to your everyday look,” says Legend.
Gerstein, who has been practicing Russian manicures for over 10 years, says the technique is gaining steam. With the use of drills and the exclusion of water, the Russian manicure allows nail artists to create a clean, smooth, and airbrushed appearance around the nail bed. While this technique has plenty of benefits, make sure you’re visiting a nail artist trained in the method.