The 2020 Winter Nail Trends You'll See Everywhere

Here's a hint: Glitter is in.

winter nail trends
(Image credit: Selin Alemdar)

We're about to enter a long winter, so it's time to break out your cold-weather standbys. Puffy down coat, woolly sweater, text-friendly gloves...and believe it or not, some new dressings for your nails. It's not just switching up your go-to shades that'll keep your nails on trend: it's about the finish, the shape, and the art, too. And with the possibility of another lockdown, we're about to have some extra time to kill at home. That's why I checked in with the ever on-the-pulse Rita Remark, editorial manicurist and Essie Global Lead Educator to help create a mani worth posting. Get bundled and read on.

Go classic, but eye-catching.

"Two of the biggest color trends I’m seeing are very classic and very 90’s: vampy red and black. They’re bold, but versatile and go with absolutely everything," says Remark. She notes that if you’re in the mood for something more vibrant or contemporary, you could reach for a mint green or dark chocolate shades.

Long almonds and short squares are the shapes of the moment.

When it comes to shape, both sides of the spectrum are having resurgences. According to Remark, two polar opposite shapes are trending: elongated ovals and neat, cropped squares.

Amp up the sparkle.

Remark is a staunch supporter of keeping your fingers flashy. "Glitter, foil and shimmer are ALL in. Polish effects are the easiest way to add art without any nail art skill or tools. I also think the rules of what is considered 'adult' have bent a little bit in recent years. While baby pink nails, covered in glitter will always read as 'birthday princess,' you can get away with a lot more these days while still looking professional," she says. If you're dipping your toe into the nail art pool, she suggest trying a mint green with a bit of shimmer or a metallic black.

This season's trendiest nail art is simple, but significant.

"Checkerboard nail art (ie: alternating two colours) is trendy, super easy, AND perfect for an at-home polisher," says Remark, "and French tips of all colors are still very a la mode—just use french sticker guides if you have a shaky hand."

Finish strong with high shine and matte top coats.

"Both these finishes are great for winter this year. I love pairing short black nails with a puffy glossy topcoat for a wet patent leather effect, or adding a matte topcoat to a metallic polish for a satin effect."

If you usually leave your nail maintenance up to the pros, you may be switching up your routine this season. "Nail enhancements definitely require salon commitment for them to be applied, maintained and removed safely. So yes, because of the very fact that it’s difficult to maintain with salons being less accessible, gels and acrylics aren’t as prominent," says Remark. But don't fret—they'll be back full swing eventually, and for now, at-home options are available.

"I would never claim that these services or their demand is dead or gone. On the contrary, long nails are trending this winter; a look rarely achieved without enhancement. DIY press-on nails and custom nail art sets designed by top manicurists have also become immensely popular in the pandemic. The demand for salon quality nails is strong and will be back better than ever once everything is universally safer."

Taylore Glynn
Taylore Glynn

Taylore Glynn is the Beauty and Health Editor at Marie Claire, covering skincare, makeup, fragrance, wellness, and more. If you need her, she’s probably roasting a chicken, flying solo at the movies, or drinking a bad Negroni at JFK.