You change your clothes. You can dye your hair. But the easiest change to make from season to season is via your nails. These 18
winter nail polish colors serve as on-trend inspo for switching up your look as the skies morph from blue to gray.
The beauty of nail polish is that you can literally change it every day if you wanted to. You can rock a bold red during festive December days, then turn to a deep eggplant for the more frigid January before switching to soft pinks for Valentine's Day. Really, there's no limit to what you can do with your mani style, and a simple, single-color look is doable for even the most novice nail painters. (That said, is anyone
actually good at painting with their non-dominant hand?)
If you're convinced that you need to restock your polish collection for winter, Bustle spoke with experts
Rachel James, founder of Pear Nova, Brittney Boyce, founder of NailsofLA and consulting nail artist for ORLY, celebrity nail artist Elle, founder and CEO of Orosa Beauty Carolyn Chen, and more to find out just which winter nail polish colors will be must-haves this season. We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
OPI's North America education and capability manager
Darlene Sritapan sees grey-based steely blues rising in popularity this winter. She tells Bustle that as the temperatures cool down, she leans toward cooler-toned polishes like this shade that has a touch of sparkle.
Extra bold colors are also going to be big in winter 2021, Sritapan predicts. "Everyone needs a reliable red during the holidays," she tells Bustle. "Red nails always make me feel ready to conquer my day."
For an updated take on neutral, Sritapan sees gray as the must-have hue. The OPI educator tells Bustle that most people assume that neutral means a skin tone shade, but gray works as another classic that goes with everything.
Another it-blue this season? A frosty, cooler iteration of the color. Sritapan says that the shade delivers a festive punch and also works great for layering with others.
Celebrity nail artist
Elle looks to the Pantone color of the year (which extends through winter 2021) for her manicure inspiration, which means more blue. She particularly calls out navy tones like this shade from Dare to Wear. "It compliments denims and tie-dye looks that are in right now and it has a very calming effect, which we all need," she tells Bustle.
Elle also reveals that sage tones will be a major winter trend, and points to Nicole Kidman's sage-green coat in
The Undoing as proof. "[Her character] is a real inspiration right now," she says. This shade of green is soft and has hints of gray that are on-point for the season.
Like Sritapan, Elle doesn't see traditional neutrals staying popular through winter 2021. Instead, she sees shades of olive moving in to take their place. "We’ve been seeing these shades on the runway and they are today’s neutral [instead of beige] as they compliment a lot of staples in your wardrobe," she says.
While neutrals and blues are certainly having a moment, Elle also sees warmer shades coming for your manicure: rusty reds and oranges. "A lot of the sweaters and materials we're seeing right now have this tone," she tells Bustle. "This shade is universal as it’s complimentary for all skin tones and hair colors."
Founder of NailsOfLA and Orly consulting nail artist
Brittney Boyce sees a fall 2020 color trend continuing into winter: jewel tones. "They easily dress up any outfit, even if you're just wearing them for Zoom holiday parties or to take fun selfies," she tells Bustle. "They're like accessories that make your nail really fun and decorative." Opt for gemstone-inspired greens, purples, and blues.
Besides jewel tones, Boyce also sees a shimmery finish coming out on top this season. "I think frosty shimmers are always so pretty for the holidays," she says. "It reminds people of snowy days and shimmery nights." The more shine, the better.
Creamy shades of all hues are another must-try winter nail polish color. According to Boyce, these shades "evoke the idea of snuggling under a comfortable throw blanket with a hot toddy." Think mauves and rich, almost thick burgundy hues.
Another theme in nail polish color trends: greens. Like Elle, Boyce is into greens for winter 2021, but adds deep forest green to her list of tones to watch for. "This year in general, green has been a big shade," she tells Bustle. "This winter, everything from deep forest-y greens to more muted mossy greens are trending. It makes people think of cozy cabins in the woods and warm fireplaces."
Carolyn Chen, CEO and founder of
Orosa Beauty predicts that deep berry reds like Pas de Deux are going to be a popular hue for manis this winter. "Red is always a classic, but these deeper variants are more subdued, which makes them more wearable," she tells Bustle.
Chen also sees cool, frosty grays as major nail polish trends this winter. She notes that these hues mirror ice and snow, "making them the perfect light and airy hue for the season."
According to Sundays founder
Amy Lin, this winter is all about midnight nail polish shades. "With crisp dry air and cooler temperatures, people will try for more dark and striking colors that are endlessly cool," she tells Bustle, noting that they work as a great contrast to your fuzzy sweaters. Opt for majestic, almost black navy hues.
Lin also sees that holiday festivities will call for more sparkly nail polish shades. "A timeless rose gold is always chic, and when the weather is gloomy outside, the added shimmer can give you a feeling of warmth and energy in your day," she says.
For those who like going dark without opting for black polish, Lin recommends a deep aubergine. "It's a great alternative because it gives you a mysterious yet regal look that can be paired with a casual or formal occasion," she tells Bustle.
Rachel James, founder of Pear Nova, sees creamy off-white hues as it-shades this season. She points to the Pear Nova lacquer shade "Feelin' My Tiger Stripes" as a prime example. "This bone-cream nail shade gives off the cool winter feeling but will help skin tones look tan," she says.