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Fall 2021 Nail Trends You'll Want to Try Immediately

Find out which 2021 nail trends are emerging this season as popular picks and how to DIY for a totally 'grammable, autumnal mani.
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When fall rolls around, you can always expect an overall transition in popular nail colors from more neutral shades such as lighter pinks and nudes to deeper colors such as merlot or navy blue. But beyond color palette, there are always new nail design trends to explore each year if you like to switch things up even further.

While nail art, in general, was once viewed as a trend, it's clear that it's here to stay, says Michelle Saunders, a celebrity nail artist who's partnered with Nailtopia. "What changes seasonally is what kind of nail art will be most prevalent," she says. If you frequent the nail corner of Instagram, you've probably noticed that nail art comes in many forms, but that certain themes emerge from season to season.

Wondering what designs and color combos you can expect to see a lot of in the coming months? Whether you're looking for ideas for your next salon visit or DIY session, here are some of the top fall nail trends of 2021. (Related: Fall 2021 Haircut Trends You're About to See Everywhere)

Dried Flowers

Move over, nail decals. One of the top fall 2021 nail trends involves setting tiny dried flowers into your manicure to add a floral embellishment. "We anticipate getting a lot of requests this autumn for natural elements incorporated into one's nail art," says Ian Austin, co-founder of Gilded Ritual, a full-service nail bar in New York. "This was popular around 10 years ago, and interest in this technique is picking up."

If you want to try this at home, you can collect and dry your own flowers (a simple process that involves simply leaving any buds alone to dry for a few days to weeks) or you can purchase some online, such as a pack of 20 from Etsy (Buy It, $3, etsy.com). After applying a base coat and, if desired, a layer (or two) of your chosen color, place your flowers onto the nail while the polish is still wet (tweezers are helpful here), then paint a liberal layer or two of top coat, says Austin.

Terracotta Shades

Dried flowers aren't the only nature-inspired nail trend of 2021. Terracotta shades are some of the foremost trending nail colors right now, according to Mar y Sol Inzerillo, a celebrity nail artist who's partnered with Nailboo. The earthy shades of reddish-brown (think: your typical plant pot made from baked clay), which recently had a major moment in interior design, are now making their way to nails.

To incorporate the colors into your at-home manis, Inzerillo suggests reaching for Nailboo Dip Powder in the shade Sunset Fog (Buy It, $14, nailboo.com), Essie Nail Color in Rocky Rose (Buy It, $9, target.com), or Orly Breathable Treatment + Color in Sunkissed (Buy It, $10, orlybeauty.com).

Metallic Accents

Time to let your coppers, silvers, and golds out to play. "Touches of metallic are frequently requested," says Austin, noting that it's a particularly good option for anyone who might find an all-over metallic mani to be too overwhelming. (Related: The Best Nail Strengtheners for Brittle, Weak Nails, According to Experts)

To DIY, paint your nails with your base of choice then use a fine detailing brush (Buy It, $10, orlybeauty.com) to add lines or shapes with a shiny shade such as Essie Nail Polish in No Place Like Chrome (Buy It, $9, bedbathandbeyond.com) Olive and June Nail Polish in OJSM (Buy It, $8, oliveandjune.com), or Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Color in Go for Gold (Buy It, $4, target.com). "When getting creative with nail art, use a piece of tin foil as your color palette," advises Inzerillo. "This helps ensure there isn't too much product on your brush."

Black Polish with Negative Space

"As opaque white was a hit for spring and summer, we will see the exact opposite this fall with black or onyx (shiny like patent leather) or deep dark vampy red (a nod to the '90s)," says Saunders. Inzerillo has noticed an uptick in black polish combined with negative space nail art, a design that leaves a part of each nail free of color.

If you want to DIY the trend, grab a black polish such as CND Vinylux Long Wear Nail Polish in Black (Buy It, $11, target.com) and use it to paint over part of your nail. This can be anything from painting a single dot on each nail to drawing squiggly lines with a fine brush. (Here's a beginner-friendly tutorial and some negative space nail art examples if you need a little inspo.) Finish it off with a high-shine top coat such as Seche Vite Dry Fast Clear Top Coat (Buy It, $11, target.com).

Pastels with Sparkle

While darker nails tend to dominate in fall, pastel shades are actually quite popular this season as well. "Moving into fall and winter 2021 there is a pastel sheen movement coming into the forefront," says Saunders. "For example, you can try baby blue, sage green (like Nailtopia Ride Or Die), periwinkle, peach, and lavender but add a dash or sparkle for flair." Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Color in Twinkle Twinkle (Buy It, $4, target.com) or Olive and June Nail Polish in Cosmic (Buy It, $8, oliveandjune.com) can add a glittery finish to your chosen pastel base if you're feeling inspired.

Swirly Nail Art

Expect to see more of the psychedelic, squiggly nail polish that's likely already filling up your social media feeds. "'Swirl' nail art was very popular for the summer, and we will still see it on nails [in fall 2021] but with more rustic colors such as gold, orange, maroon, and brown," says Saunders. (Related: This Clear Nail Polish Gives You a Salon-Worthy French Manicure In Seconds)

Even if you don't think you have the skill or patience to freehand swirly designs onto your nails with a detail brush, you can still achieve groovy nails from home. Try: Chillhouse Chill Tips False Nails in Wavy Baby (Buy It, $16, target.com) or Scratch Nail Wraps in Heartbeat (Buy It, $12, goscratch.it). (Related: The Best Press-On Nails for a Salon-Worthy Mani at Home)

Multicolor Jewel Tone Nails

Multicolor nails featuring different deep hues on each nail will continue to be "very popular" this season, says Saunders. "Think gemstones when choosing the nail color: emerald, sapphire, garnet, topaz, amethyst, and onyx." To try this beginner-friendly trend, gather several shades along the lines of Smith and Cult Nail Lacquer in Kings and Thieves (Buy It, $14, dermstore.com), Orly Nail Polish in Ruby (Buy It, $10, orlybeauty.com), or Essie Nail Polish in Off Tropic (Buy It, $9, ulta.com), and then begin painting, alternating colors with each nail.