Winter Nail Designs You Can Totally Manage at Home

Consider these winter nail ideas if you're searching for fresh ways to embellish your nails.

Photo: Getty Images

When winter rolls around, you might feel the urge to decorate your space with tinsel, lights, a menorah, or — if you're Kylie Jenner — a 20-foot Christmas tree. And if you love a nail art moment, the decorating need not stop there. Adorning your hands with winter nail designs can be a fun way to mark the start of the season.

Miniature snowflakes or mittens are the obvious choices, but if you're looking for a less literal interpretation of "winter nail designs," you're in the right place. These winter nail designs for 2021 take inspiration from current nail art trends, but they feature shimmery and holographic finishes in the spirit of the season. You can pull them off at home with beginner to intermediate nail art skills. (Of course, there's no shame in taking a screenshot to bring to the nail salon either.) Without further ado, here's how to achieve pretty nail designs for winter at home. (

Glitter Ombre Tips

"I normally don't do glitter, but the holidays are an exception," says Brittney Boyce, a celebrity nail artist and the founder of NAILS OF LA who's partnered with ORLY. "Instead of doing the whole nail in glitter, I like when it has an ombre tip."

  1. Paint on a clear base coat and let dry, followed by a color coat if desired.
  2. Paint on a strip of glitter nail polish concentrating on the tip of each nail. Gently drag the glitter chunks down toward the base of the nail to create an ombre effect before moving on to the next nail. Try: ORLY Halo (Buy It, $10,, which is what Boyce uses in the above video.
  3. Allow to dry, then apply a clear top coat.

Tri-Color Tips

Sigourney Nuñez, a Los Angeles-based nail artist who's partnered with OPI, loves holographic finishes for winter. (And for what it's worth, she's not the only one.) With this triple-layer nail design, in particular, Nuñez's going for a futuristic vibe. Feel free to use French manicure guide stickers such as the ORLY 1/2 Moon Guides (Buy It, $5, for this one if you don't have a steady hand.

  1. Paint on a clear base coat and let dry.
  2. Paintone coat of a holographic shade — e.g. OPI Infinite Shine Ready, Fete, Go (Buy It, $13, — onto the entire nail and let dry.
  3. Take another holographic color — e.g.
  4. OPI Infinite Shade My Color Wheel Is Spinning (Buy It, $13, — and apply one line or two (depending how long your nail is) across the middle of the nail, swiping from left to right at a slight downward angle. Be sure to leave some space for the third and final lacquer at the top of the nail. Repeat on each nail and let dry.
  5. Take a third holographic color — e.g.
  6. OPI Infinite Shine Turn Bright After Sunset (Buy It, $13, — and paint it onto the tip of each nail. Let dry.
  7. Paint on a clear top coat.

Angled Half French In Midnight Colors

"For winter, I like dark, still shades as they remind me of just how quiet it gets during the holidays at night," says Boyce. "While black gives a lot of edge, you can soften this up with midnight navy or dark forest green shades."

  1. Apply a clear base coat onto each nail and let dry.
  2. Adhere a piece of washi tape (Buy It, $20 for pack of 15, diagonally across each nail. The tape should be off-center, leaving a thin strip of nail exposed on one side.
  3. Fill in the thin strip of exposed nail with a dark colored polish, such as ORLY Midnight Oasis (Buy It, $10,, which is featured in the above video. Let dry, then remove the tape.
  4. Clean up the edges using a precision brush, such as ORLY Dry Brush (Buy It, $10, or Olive and June Clean Up Brush (Buy It, $8, dipped in nail polish remover.
  5. Paint a clear, glossy top coat onto each nail.

Glitter Ombre

This winter nail design is essentially the glitter ombre tip spelled out earlier — but in reverse. "This one is simple yet fun and gives off major party vibes," says Nuñez. You can pull it off even if you're a nail art newbie. (

  1. Apply a clear base coat onto each nail and let dry.
  2. Apply two coats of color — such as OPI Infinite Shine All Is Berry & Bright (Buy It, $13,, which Nuñez uses in the above video — onto each nail and let dry.
  3. Dab a glitter polish — e.g. OPI Infinite Shine Cheers to Mani Years (Buy It, $11, — onto the base of each nail and let dry.
  4. Apply a clear top coat onto each nail.

Classic French Tips In Metallic Shades

"A classic French tip using a shimmery shade on an oval-shaped nail, either short or medium in length, looks really gorgeous for the holidays," says Boyce. "It elongates your fingers while giving them a little texture. The easiest way to get the perfect French tip is with a silicone nail stamper. This even works on shorter nails."

  1. Paint a clear base coat onto each nail and let dry.
  2. Paint a strip of color — try: Smith & Cult Monaco Madness (Buy It, $18, —onto the head of a silicone nail stamper (Buy It, $6, dip each finger into the paint, pressing down only far enough to color the tips of the nails. Let dry.
  3. Apply a clear top coat to each nail.

Side French

Another of Nuñez's winter nail ideas, "this looks is a fun twist on the typical French manicure — I like to call it the side French manicure," she says. It differs from other pseudo-French manis in that the color covers both the side and tip of the nail. (

  1. Apply a clear base coat to each nail and let dry.
  2. Apply two coats of color, such as OPI Paint the Tinseltown Red (Buy It, $11,,to each nail if desired and let dry.
  3. Apply a stripe of a different colored nail polish to each nail, starting at the bottom right side of the nail swiping up the nail and towards the left. Let dry.
  4. Apply a clear top coat to each nail.

Gold Half Moon

"Winter is a fun time to play up shimmer and texture," says Boyce. "You can play up different types of metallic shades for this look, from a standard gold to rose gold to even a bright orange bronze shade." For a shortcut, NAILS OF LA makes a nail wrap (Buy It, $16, with the same design.

  1. Apply a clear base coat to each nail and let dry.
  2. Apply one coat of a metallic shade, such as ORLY Over the Topaz (Buy It, $10,, onto the half moon at the base of each nail. If you don't have a steady enough hand to freehand it, stick on another one of those guides mentioned above before painting. Let dry.
  3. Apply a clear top coat to each nail.
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