Some Of Spring's Best Nail Trends Don't Even Involve Nail Polish At All

by Sara Spruch-Feiner

Nail care, like every other element of beauty and self-care, has experienced some changes over the past year. No matter how you've settled into life during the extraordinary past nine months, what matters is prioritizing self-care. So, first things first, if that's bare nails, that's more than okay. If a pop of color on your digits, or even working on elaborate DIY nail art makes you happy — have fun with it. According to celebrity nail artists, the best spring 2021 nail polish trends are essentially going to be about extremes on either end of the spectrum.

One one end, there's "short, natural, and minimalist, but deliberate nails and corresponding nail art" and on other, there's "long, extreme shaped, adorned in full art and bling," notes celebrity manicurist Tom Bachik.

From negative space nails to mix and match colors, here are the trends to watch out for.

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Spring 2021 Nail Trends: Healthy, Bare Nails

For Bachik (who is also the man behind some of J.Lo's most over-the-top, incredible nail designs), nails for spring 2021 will focus on overall nail and hand care and health. "With all the washing and over use of sanitizers, nails and skin are becoming over processed and dehydrated causing dry, cracking skin and nails," Bachik explains. "And with the lack of access to nail salons during this time many are doing nails at home and focusing on their hand and nail routines and adding products like tools, cuticle oils, and cream. My go-to at home and on set for my clients is PCA’s C&E Hand Renewal."

Spring 2021 Nail Trends: Press-Ons

It's only natural, with salons closures continuing, that press-ons are having a moment. Bachik is a fan of them for their ease for at-home use, "convenience and tons of styles add to the appeal," he says. Fortunately, there are truly cooler-than-ever options in this category, too.

Spring 2021 Nail Trends: Minty Pastel Green

"Greens have been popular the past few seasons and will continue to be popular in the spring," notes Brittney Boyce, founder of NAILSOFLA, who says she expects popular shades to be in the minty, pastel family.

Spring 2021 Nail Trends: From Pastel To Pantone Yellow

Call it hopefulness via manicure, but shades of sunny yellow will be having a moment, come springtime. Boyce notes that the spectrum will range from pastels to bolder shades like Pantone's color of the year (Illuminating). According to celebrity nail artist, Elle, these shades will also be used for spring-friendly designs—like florals.

Spring 2021 Nail Trends: Subtle Metallic Accents

While simplicity is definitely receiving a warm embrace, that's not to say no one is going a more glam route. "Lately I've been getting a lot of requests for hardware on minimal nude nails, like either a gold cuff or a metallic wire," Boyce says, adding that "it's still minimal, which is my personal aesthetic but has a kick-ass edge to it." You can get the look with pre-designed press-ons, or, if you're up for the DIY, "you can also mimic this with metallic nail polish applied with a thin striper brush," she explains. One of her favorite elements of this style: "It looks gorgeous on all skin tones, from the lightest to the darkest. It's just stunning."

Spring 2021 Nail Trends: Graphic Minimalism

Designs like negative space and colorful French tips will be trending come spring, according to Essie's Global Lead Educator, Rita Remark. Plus, she says, you can even use tools you already have at home like a bobby pin or an eyeliner brush to create these looks.

Spring 2021 Nail Trends: Mismatched & Mixed Colors

"Mismatched nails were so popular in 2020, but there's so much more we can do with this trend beyond just polishing each nail a different color," Remark says. "You can polish them like a checkerboard (alternating two colors), you can polish each hand a different color, half the hand in one shade, and half in another—get creative. These designs couldn't be easier to achieve, so the ways you can rock it are limitless." Also, all you need are some fun colors to achieve this look.

Spring 2021 Nail Trends: Animal Prints

Finally, animal prints like cow, zebra, and leopard, which Remark says are easier than they seem. "You'll just need a dotting tool or a small striping brush," she says.