With a mere week and some change left, there’s no time to waste in putting together your fiercest looks for the spookiest season of the year, Halloween nails included. Whether you like them long and sharp, dipped in the deepest red lacquer, or prefer a short set covered in slime, these designs are not for the faint of heart.
Nail artists know a thing or two when it comes to creating a set you won’t forget starting with bloody drips and moving to intricate webs, they’ve done it all. Below, pro artists walk us through their most requested nail designs and the colors that make them squeamish in the best possible way. They also share their go-to tips for making your Halloween manicure wearable long after the ghosts and ghouls have moved on.
Miss Betty Rose
More is more when it comes to nails in the world of Australian-based nail artist, Miss Betty Rose, which makes her an authority on spooky Halloween sets. “My most requested Halloween designs are flame and skull designs, monster graphs and occult-based looks,” she adds.
As for what designs and details she’s gearing up to paint this year? “I love to layer jelly colors for Halloween to give dimension with the design,” she says. “Jelly blacks and brown with fine line detail between the layers make a great base for the most spooky designs.”
As if her commitment to the creepy cause weren’t enough, Rose has collaborated with BioSculpture Gel on a signature shade: a toxic sludge yellow that she loves using for highlights and pops of color amongst the darkness.
If you prefer your spooky nails with a hefty dose of chic, then take inspiration from Metta, aka Nailsbymets, a London-based artist who draws her own inspiration from her clients’ wardrobes, interiors and character quirks. “I have a huge focus on healthy, natural nails but I also love creating looks and nail art designs that reflect my clients’ styles and personalities.”
When it comes to Halloween, Francis likes to switch it up with fun designs ranging from ghosts, graveyard scenes and carved pumpkins to classic dripping blood nails that use a deep, rich red as the standout shade; Cnd’s Oxblood is a great option here. For her own nails at this time of year, she likes to strike a balance between the two. “I like quite vampy styles that can be worn once the day’s over like stiletto or long almond shaped dark red and black nails.”
Her top tip for a quick trick-or-treat nail transformation? “If you only want to commit to Halloween nails for the day, you can create a nail art design in nail polish over the top of a classic gel polish manicure. Once the occasion is over, you can easily remove it with a non-acetone nail polish remover.”
Just because it’s Halloween, doesn’t mean you have to go full-on gore. As it turns out, Scream’s Ghostface looks kind of cute in pink. “My most requested Halloween designs are usually spiders, webs, horror movies such as Scream, and anything resembling blood,” says artist Marbles Valdez, owner of MVZ Beauty Studio in the Lower East Side.
Valdez’s work, a mix of kawaii cuteness, extra-large decals, and colorful prints, doesn’t shy away from making the kind of statement you want this time of year. Her go-to colors for spooky nails are green, orange, black, and purple. “I love the Valentino and Madam Glam polishes.”
Her tip for extending the life of your manicure after the pumpkins have been put away? Go for abstract. “Aura or airbrushed nails with a fun spooky color palette is super cute for the holidays and wearable after Halloween is over!”
“The most requested designs would definitely be blood dripping from the cuticle, spider webs on accent nails and fangs,” says Michelle Ramirez, a nail artist at New York City’s trendy AKIKO salon. “As for shape, it’s definitely pointy or round, which makes the nail look longer.”
Ramirez’s favorite colors for creating a flawless, appropriately spooky mani are Essie’s oxblood color’ Wicked,’ or a deep, shimmery shade “when you’re feeling luxurious.” As for how to get the most wear out of your nails beyond the Halloween season, she recommends opting for a dark ombré nail, which you can easily create at home. “It’s on theme and you can definitely rock it all fall and winter. Just get a makeup sponge, apply color to the top of the sponge, and layer on a clear nail until it has a gradient effect!”
Yumi Lee is another pro at AKIKO Salon who personally loves a good Deborah Lippmann polish when it comes to creating one of her eye-catching designs. “The designs I often get requested are pumpkins, spider webs, and eyeballs. I think the stiletto shape makes them look more witchy and spooky.”
As far as colors to have on your radar, Lee has noticed the popularity of pumpkin orange which is bound to take over as more people prep for the season’s festivities. Her tips for turning your Halloween mani evergreen? Play with negative space. “Negative space nails, like a black French tip, look good even after the holiday. Not only are they are very easy to create, they’re a classic.”
When it comes to out-of-this-world nail art, Mei Kawajiri has become an industry fave. Unsurprisingly, she doesn’t hold back when it’s time to create a gory look. “Last year I made this super scary and realistic injured nail look!,” Kawajiri tells Vogue. “I used nail polish and a tiny brush to create the blood and creeped everyone out online.”
If ripped nails are a little too close to home, she shares alternate designs that still fit the bill. “I would recommend using black and red for nail art, like a French tip, if you want something wearable after Halloween.” From her experience, super long and square shapes tend to be the most popular. As for Kawajiri’s pick of polish? Gucci Vernis á Ongles in Black Crystal, a rich onyx that pulls you in.
Not sure where to start, go for blood—on your nails that is. “When it comes to my most highly requested design for Halloween, it’s definitely blood drips,” says California-based nail artist Laysa Cazares. “I would say the top three that I get requests for are blood drips, spider webs, and Swarovski spiders. Black stilettos are definitely really in for Halloween as well but with the square shape becoming super popular I’ve had a lot more clients want square nails instead.”
Cazares recommends establishing a good nail care regimen and planning ahead to make sure your manicure lasts. “My first tip would be to always moisturize with your favorite cuticle oil. That allows your nails to look fresh even if they’re grown out. I would also say pick colors and designs you won’t get bored of even after the holiday. Last, if you don’t want it to look too spooky, I would say go for a solid color like black stilettos because the stilettos make it look witchy but black matches everything and will look great even after the holiday.”
Trends may come and go, but there’s always a place for a black cat (or two) when it comes to Halloween nails. “It varies each year depending on the most popular costume or character that year but there are yearly staples,” says artist and founder of Emilie Heathe, Emily Rudman. “Black cats, ghosts, pumpkins, and spider webs are always pretty popular. I expect snakes to take center stage this season.” In past seasons, Rudman has seen stiletto and rounded nail shapes take the lead but this year is a little different. “Coffin and ballerina are definitely a favorite this season.”
When it comes to her favorite color, Rudman admits that while it can be hard to choose, she does favor a deeper hue. “I love a great deep red or black. But I do like to mix it up with a green, brown, taupe, or even a gold. Burnt orange is also a favorite as well as a deep purple.”
Rudman says to opt for nail art that can transition across seasons if you’re looking to get the most out of your Halloween mani. “Pumpkin or fall leaves nail art will always take you into November. Try an accent nail with nail art so that the manicure is not all about Halloween. You can also try geometric lines using deep red and gold or go for a twist on the normal Halloween with ombré lines, stars, and moons, or an evil eye. Negative space nail art is and will always be a favorite.”
This article was originally published on Vogue.com.