4 Totally Unexpected & Expert-Approved 2021 Nail Trends You’re Going to Love

Elizabeth Denton
4 Totally Unexpected & Expert-Approved 2021 Nail Trends You’re Going to Love
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We find Fashion Week to be equal parts exciting and exhausting. It’s exhilarating, getting our adrenaline pumping. But it also can be a bit overwhelming. There’s always a lot to take from the weeklong display of shows, street style and backstage scene. More than anything, we actually look forward to taking a mental tally of what styles and trends are emerging while we elbow my way through the chaos. (At least pre-pandemic.) This year, we found 2021 nail trends to be the most unpredictable, creative and actually easy to pull off.

From all 2021 shows throughout fall/winter and spring/summer, there are four 2021 nail trends we can’t seem to get enough of. They’re both easy to recreate and eye-catching at the same time—and that’s not always the case. There’s something for everyone, too. Feeling dark and moody as temperatures drop? Go for black nails with punk accents or rockstar decals. Those feeling a more laid-back vibe, especially while doing nails at home, can go for Barbie-style bubblegum pink talons and nudes that either match their skin tone or pop against it.

Below, find so much inspo for 2021 nail looks that will take you through the entire year. When in doubt, have fun with it. With nail polish, there are no rules.

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Generally speaking, runway manicures were either over-the-top or subtle and stunning. As far as Christian Cowan’s Spring/Summer 2021 show was concerned, its nail design was the former. Nail artist Mar y Sol used Defy & Inspire nail polish created the punk-inspired nails on models and Lil Nas X.

“Each nail look was uniquely inspired by the edgy details in Christian’s designs, Lil Nas X’s free spirit and the beautiful makeup up and hair looks, while keeping in mind each talents’ personality,” she said in a statement. “To create each nail look, I personally custom fit over 300 Aprés Gel X nail extensions and filed many into a unique shape that resembles a tanto tip Japanese knife. Depending on each outfit I then paired colors from Defy & Inspire to complement each look.”

defy and inspire nails


Defy & Inspire Nail Lacquer in Friday Night Lights

A high-shine gray with sprakles.


Final Rose.

Defy & Inspire Nail Lacquer in Final Rose

A true red.


Over at the Rebecca Minkoff’s fall/winter 2020 presentation, nails were also pretty punky but with stars on dark talons. Nail artist Gina Edwards used black polish and added silver decals. It’s somehow both minimalist and bold at the same time. You can try the look on shorter nails, as well as a different fall-color hue such as wine or emerald green.

kiss products salon secrets


Kiss Products Salon Secrets Starter Kit

With glitter, brushes, glue and decals.

opi black nail polish 4 Totally Unexpected & Expert Approved 2021 Nail Trends Youre Going to Love


OPI Nail Polish Scotland Collection, Nail Lacquer in Rub-A-Pub

An opaque black.

Bubblegum Pink

Tom Ford and Fendi both sent models down the Spring/Summer 2021 runway with bubblegum pink nails. Trade-in your Ballet Slipper and soft pinks for this bright–but not neon—hue. It feels like Barbie got a fashionable update. Want to add a little edge? Try a matte top coat or use some creative decals on top.

tom ford nail lacquer 4 Totally Unexpected & Expert Approved 2021 Nail Trends Youre Going to Love


Tom Ford Nail Lacquer in Indian Pink

It’s deeper than Bubblegum but if you want to try Tom Ford’s luxe nail polish, this is the best option.

sally hansen nails

Sally Hansen.

Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Color in Heart of Stone

This glossy polish is a favorite for its no-chip formula.


At Jason Wu, Deborah Lippmann reveals she “created the shade Brand New Day to create a super fresh and clean look that was reminiscent of a new beginning.” She continues: “I also went with a squoval nail shape to remind us how strong and resilient we all are.” That’s square and oval, for those who were confused. It’s a shape that looks great on everyone, just like the perfect nude.


Deborah Lippmann.

Deborah Lippmann Nail Polish in Brand New Day

This glossy light tan blends in on lighter skin tones and adds a pop to deeper ones.



Zoya Nail Polish in Emilia

The opposite is true with this pretty Zoya shade.

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