There’s just something about a freshly primed and painted set of nails that instantly lures people in. Maybe it has something to do with all the eye-catching colors, patterns, and shapes. It’s because nail trends are one of the few beauty fads everyone can participate in (yes, even with short nails). Maybe it’s basic human instinct to be drawn to stuff that looks cute on the ‘gram. Whatever the reason, it resulted in an eruption of nail-art trends in 2019: drip nails, milky nail art, tortoiseshell nails — this is only the tip of the iceberg.
And, according to nail artists, the obsession with our nails has only just begun. We asked those artists to run down which trends from 2019 they think will flourish even more in 2020, along with what sort of innovations we can expect on the horizon. In short? In the new year, minimalism and maximalism will work hand in hand (no pun intended) like never before.
1. Mix-and-Match Patterns
Power-clashing inspired by the 1980s is what nail artist Miss Pop says we’ll see more of in 2020, much like the design above that she ideated for Jeremy Scott’s spring/summer 2020 runway show.
“Squiggles, shapes, and fun flair will party across your nails next year,” she tells Allure. “Designs will make you feel like you’re in the new class on Saved By The Bell.“
So, prepare your dotting tools and brushes.
2. Bare Necessities
Artist Gina Edwards, however, predicts the complete opposite of next year’s most popular nail looks. “The trends that stick out to me use bare-nail negative space,” she says.
In her eyes, clean nails with crystal embellishments placed in clever ways are the next big thing alongside minimal, abstract designs like the classic black-and-white look she recently executed for Chanel.
Thankfully, the internet has a hearty selection of self-stick jewels and pearls that make it easy to mimic these elaborate designs.
3. Mood Ring Nails
You’ve likely seen these magical, color-shifting glitter polishes all over your Instagram feed in the past few months. They’re the work of magnetic polishes, which have been around for years, but in late 2019, their popularity skyrocketed and earned cutesy new nicknames like cat-eye nails, aurora nails, crystal ball nails, and mood ring nails, as Miss Pop calls the look.
According to her, this trend is just beginning: “Is it black? Is it a deep green? Is that a red shimmer underneath?” she asks. “2020 will be all about a shade that has mystery.”
4. Western Patterns
Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” smashed all sorts of music records in 2019, and in 2020 the country-rap song’s influence will trickle down to the nail-art world. Eun Kyung Park, founder of South Korea’s famed Unistella nail salon, cites Western-inspired colors and patterns, such as her recent cow print creation above, as a surefire trend for 2020
“I got the horses in the back” is about to take on a very different meaning.
5. Cracked Nail Patterns and Snake-Inspired Designs
Similarly, Park thinks “cracked” nail patterns such as snakeskin are about to have a very big moment. They appear to be frustratingly complex at first glance, but they can be imitated at home with a little practice and some nail foils applied randomly.
6. Coffin-Shaped Nails
If 2019 marked the triumphant return of square and rectangular nails, 2020 will see the shape modify somewhat, according to Edwards. “The nail shape trend for 2020 will be coffin and tapered almond, which is slightly more narrow than almond but not as sharp as a stiletto,” she predicts.
Chaun Legend, nail artist to Kylie Jenner, is a long-standing fan of the coffin shape (as evidenced by his Instagram feed), so when this trend takes off, we’re betting we’ll have Jenner to thank.
7. More Inventive Nail Shapes
Meanwhile, Park has plans in place for more offbeat nail shapes, much like the “lipstick” shape she invented this year. “I have a small hope to draw more attention to unique nail shapes that aren’t just limited to square or round,” she says.
Of course, wackier nail shapes do come with risks. “[The shapes] would have to be easy to re-create and should be wearable enough.”
8. French Manicures and Even More French Manicures
The French manicure was arguably the biggest nail trend of 2019. Park and Miss Pop agree that will continue well into 2020 — with a twist, that is. While Park enjoys experimenting with negative space and the shape of the tip, Miss Pop is all about colorful Frenches.
“In 2020, we’ll be forgoing the traditional pink-and-white French combo,” she says. “Reach out and grab a color: saturated brights, pastels, and neons. Grab more than one for an ombré French tip. Or pick up a dotting tool to add an extra spot of interest.”