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Valentine's Day Nail Designs You'll Fall Hard for This Year

Nail artists explain how to achieve Valentine's Day nail designs, from beginner-friendly to advanced.
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Without question, Valentine's Day is one of the best holidays for nail art inspiration. If you find roses, boxes of chocolates, and teddy bears tacky in the best way or you're partial to a pink and red color palette, you can channel this holiday's vibe on your nails.

While February 14 may seem far off, it's only a matter of time until you start seeing conversation hearts and valentine cards popping up in stores (if you haven't already). In case you'd like to plan your homage to the occasion well in advance, here are a few Valentine's Day nail ideas you can DIY or screen grab for a future salon trip. (Related: 2022 Nail Trends You'll Want to Bookmark to Show Your Manicurist)

Matte Red French Tips

One way to modify the French manicure trend for Valentine's Day is to switch out classic white tips for a matte red polish. Here's how Brittney Boyce, a celebrity nail artist and the founder of NAILS OF LA who's partnered with ORLY, suggests achieving the "romantic spin" on a French mani. (Related: This Clear Nail Polish Gives You a Salon-Worthy French Manicure In Seconds)

  1. Prep nails as desired, and file nails to a round or oval shape.
  2. Paint on a base coat and let dry.
  3. Adhere French manicure guides (e.g. ORLY 1/2 Moon Guides) just below the tip of each nail.
  4. Apply two coats of a rich, creamy red nail polish, such as ORLY Ma Cherie, across the tip of each nail and wait at least 30 seconds for nails to dry.
  5. Clean up any mistakes with a precision brush dipped in nail polish remover.
  6. Apply a glossy top coat to the base of each nail, avoiding the red tips.
  7. Apply a matte top coat just to the tips of each nail and let dry.

Mini Hearts

The secret to pulling off perfect mini hearts on your nails is a dotting tool (and steady hand). These pink Valentine's Day nails look "great on every nail shape," says Jennifer Bell, senior marketing manager of Bellacures salons. She notes that you can reverse the look, going with a dark red nail with shimmery pink hearts. To achieve the look at home, follow Bell's steps below.

  1. Prep and shape nails as desired.
  2. Apply two coats of a nude or light pink nail polish, such as Essie Ballet Slippers. Let dry (or cure, if you're using gel polish).
  3. Dip a dotting tool into a bright red nail polish, e.g. OPI Big Apple Red. Place two small dots side by side to form the rounded edges of the heart. Once the dots are in place, dip a detailer brush into the red polish and connect the dots with a triangle to form the bottom of the heart. Repeat on each finger and let dry. Repeat with a second coat and let dry.
  4. Apply a top coat to each nail and let dry.

Skittles Manicure

You won't need advanced nail art skills to pull off a playful design — copy these simple Valentine's Day Nails from Boyce. "For a Valentine's Day take on the Skittles trend [wearing different colors on different nails], find five complimentary pink and red shades," she says. "The key for this trend is to ensure the pinks and reds all have the same undertones." If you aren't confident with detecting undertones, you can steal the color combo that Boyce used above: ORLY's Kiss the Bride, Confetti, Beach Cruiser, Hot Shot, and Haute Red.

  1. Prep and shape nails as desired.
  2. Apply a base coat to each nail and let dry.
  3. Apply two coats of a red or pink color, alternating shades with each nail. Let dry.
  4. Apply a top coat and let dry.

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French Tips with Hearts

If 💌 is your favorite emoji, these red Valentine's Day nails are made for you. "Any shade of red or pink will work lovely with this look, or even a pop of sparkle," says Bell, who's spelled out steps to create the look below. "You can also try a different color with a varied color for the heart." (Related: Winter Nail Designs You Can Totally Manage at Home)

  1. Prep nails as desired and file into an almond shape. Optionally, you can apply soft gel extensions such as Gel-X extensions.
  2. Apply a base coat to each nail and let dry
  3. Apply two coats of a nude nail polish such as OPI Put It In Neutral and let dry (or cure if using gel polish).
  4. Dip a fine precision brush into a bright red nail polish, e.g. OPI Big Apple Red. Paint a thin line that follows the curve of the almond, just below the tip of each nail. Using your regular brush, fill in the rest of the tips with the red polish. Repeat and let dry.
  5. Dip a dotting tool into the red nail polish. Place two small dots side by side to form the rounded edges of the heart at the base of the nail. Once the dots are in place, dip a detailer brush in red polish connect the dots with a triangle to form the bottom of the heart. Repeat on each finger and let dry. Repeat with a second coat and let dry.
  6. Apply a top coat to each nail and let dry.

Rose Quartz

Maybe you'd prefer a subtle nod to Valentine's Day rather than taking one of the more obvious routes. You can copy this rose quartz-inspired design from Riyah Martin, an editorial nail artist and color mixologist at ORLY Color Labs, which she's outlined below. You can let the design act as your reminder to show yourself some appreciation this Valentine's Day, as rose quartz is a crystal that's associated with self-love. (Related: How to Date Yourself During Quarantine — Or Anytime, Really)

  1. Prep and shape nails as desired. Optionally, you can apply soft gel extensions.
  2. Apply a base coat to each nail and let dry.
  3. Apply a coat of a milky nail polish color such as Kiara Sky Milky White to each nail.
  4. Apply a coat of a light pink nail polish such as ORLY Lift the Veil. Immediately trace a long detailer brush through the polish to create swirls that mimic the look of rose quartz. Repeat on each nail. Allow to dry.
  5. Dip a long detailer brush into a gold polish, e.g. ORLY Luxe, and and lines or speckles to accent each nail.
  6. Apply a top coat to each nail and let dry.

Heart-Shaped French Tips

Whether or not you wear your heart on your sleeve, you can wear some on your nails with this design. For a variation on the look you can apply a sheer coat of glitter before adding hearts or use stiletto-shaped soft gel extensions, notes Gabbie Leeper, a private nail artist in Charlotte, North Carolina. (The stiletto shape will create a more pointed tip at the bottom of the heart.) Here's how to get the look shown above, according to Bell.

  1. Prep nails as desired and file into an almond shape. Optionally, you can apply soft gel extensions.
  2. Apply two coats of a nude nail polish such as Dazzle Dry Truth and let dry (or cure, if using gel polish).
  3. Dip a thin detailer brush into a bright red nail polish such as OPI An Affair in Red Square. Paint a thin, straight line at the tip of the nail.
  4. Dip a dotting tool into the red polish and create two even semicircles above the lines you just created. Repeat with a second coat.
  5. Use the detailer brush to fill in the semicircles and the remainders of the tips. Repeat with a second coat and let dry.
  6. Apply a top coat to each nail and let dry.