There Are Some Unexpected Nail Art Trends for 2021

Nail Art Trends for 2021

Thanks to the pandemic, we had to put restrictions on a lot of our monthly beauty regimens. However, now that nail salons have reopened across the country, the buzz to hear about the latest manicure trends has been reignited and the thought of being able to try out a new nail-shape or a trendy stenciled airbrush design has our fingers and toes jumping for joy.

But if you've become a pro in quarantine, DIY nail trends are going to remain every bit as popular as professional manicures. And there are some new trends that will be popping up in 2020.

Here, celebrity manicurist and author of the Nail Art Design Book Julie Kandalec, walks us through the top nail trends for 2021, and explains how to achieve these manicures on your own or with the help of a pro.

Neon Matte

Neon matte nail polishes are providing us with a retro 80s throwback this season. The bright hues are a huge trend for 2021, with the matte finish giving a sleek alternative to a high-gloss shine. This is definitely the go-to trend if you’re looking to make a statement. Plus, the bold colors add a fun edge to any manicure. “I love how well they photograph,” says Kandalec. “I tend to pair a neon polish with a deeper polish shade to keep it a bit grounded.”

Kandalec started off this look by using a thin pointed mini majestic brush-script liner to draw a line halfway across the nail. Next, she filled in the tip of the nail with the neon polish. “Always work lengthways rather than, left to right, as this helps to keep the cuticles cleaner,” she says. “Following this, I used a stiff, angled eyeliner brush, like the EcoTools brush, I dipped it into pure acetone and perfected the line.” She then applied a fast-drying top coat to seal the first layer of nail polish.

“For the dots, I poured out a pea-sized amount of polish onto aluminum foil and dipped the back of my paintbrush handle straight in at a 90' angle, I then applied the polish straight to the nail, again at a 90 degree angle, to create a perfectly round dot.”

To finish, she allowed the polish to dry well and applied a matte top coat.

Key Products to Shop

Mini Majestic Brush-Script Liner: $8,

EcoTools Eye Enhancing Duo Brush Set: $7,

essie Matte About You Top Coat: $13,

Orly Oh Snap: $10,

Orly Far Out: $10,

Orly Hot Pursuit: $10,

Orly Psych: $10,


Floral designs add an ultra-feminine vibe to any manicure and compliment a number of looks.

For this design, Kandalec started off by painting a blush pink shade onto the nail. “To create the petals on the blush base, I dipped a small round brush in acetone and picked up a tiny bit of magenta polish. I immediately dabbed the polish straight onto the nail in a stamping motion, making a single flower petal. I repeated this process to get five petals.”

To create the center of the flower, Kandalec used a toothpick to dot a lighter shade polish in the middle and finished off by applying a top coat.

Key Products to Shop

Chanel Le Vernis Egerie: $28,

Grace and Beauty Nails a Mood: $10,

KingArt Original Premium Artist Brush: $10,

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Nail Coat: $10,

VIDEO: The New Neutral Nail Polish Everyone Will Be Wearing

Mexican Moon

A negative space moon manicure will always have a place in our heart, not only is it a great way to camouflage regrowth, but it also provides a futuristic look. “I started this manicure by using an artist brush to draw a semi-circle around the fingernail moon (the rounded shadow at the base of your nails), using Grace and Beauty's Cosmopolitan,” says Kandalec.

She continued by drawing another semi-circle in a contrasting color and filling in with the polish to the tip of the nail. “I let the polish dry well, then finished the look by applying a top coat.”

Key Products to Shop

Princeton Artist Brush, Mini-Detailer Brushes: $7,

Grace and Beauty Nails Cosmopolitan: $10,

Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Nail Color Above the Clouds: $20,

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Nail Coat: $10,

Chain Nails

Since the majority of us are working from home, now is the perfect time to try out adventurous designs that you might not  be able to pull off at the office. For this look, start with a solid neutral base and apply a quick dry top coat, then cut nail art chains into one-inch lengths.

“Make sure you measure the chains first as each nail will need a slightly different length,” says Kandalec. “Using a tiny bit of acrylic, attach the chains to the end of each nail and give it about three minutes for the acrylic to harden. Make sure to keep the acrylic wetter than usual and be sure to keep it as flat as possible to prevent snagging.”

Finish off the look by using a small amount of acrylic to apply a crystal.

Key Products to Shop

NAILS INC. Mani Meditation Pink Nude: $10,

Lookathot 9pcs 3D Concise Metallic Chain Nail Art Stickers Decals: $10,

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Nail Coat: $10,

Liquid Thermochromic

Thermochromic liquid is a great way to accentuate any nail design, a bit like a mood ring. The liquid changes color according to temperature, creating a beautiful effect.

“I started by painting the nail a deep base color, using Base Coat’s Bad News Babes,” says Kandalec. “Next, I dipped a small detail brush in thermal liquid nail art paint and painted my design on the nail.”

To create the roses, she started off by drawing imperfect C-shaped squiggles in the center of the flower, and bricking them as she moved to the outside edge. “I like to add a stem, petals or dots to each flower. After I finish applying the paint, I wait about five to ten minutes, then I finish with a double layer of top coat to seal and protect.”

Key Products to Shop

Base Coat Nail Polish Bad News Babe: $20,

Tuscom Color Changing Gel Nail Polish Thermochromic Liquid: $12,

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Nail Coat: $10,

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