19 Fall Nail Art Designs You Can Actually Do Yourself

It’s no secret that I am obsessed with nail polish. From summer neons and winter metallics to springy pastels and moody autumn hues, there’s no shortage of seasonal inspiration in my personal collection. But while I may fancy myself a connoisseur of lacquers across the color and price spectrums, let’s be honest: I’m no expert. Fortunately, I have a few on speed dial and make a point of connecting with a handful of pros each season to get the details on what’s in, what’s out, and what’s doable at home. 

For fall, I am most curious about nail innovation and design. With this in mind, I sought advice from celebrity manicurist Brittney Boyce, Olive and June nail trend expert Olivia Van Iderstine, and product founders Ann McFerran and Paulina Galoostian for the latest and greatest in fall nail art that amateurs like me can actually do themselves. 

Keep reading for their distinct POVs on fall’s most popular shades, tools, and techniques, and get ready to shop their picks. Trust me—your nails are about to have their most stylish season yet thanks to these fall nail art tips and tricks. 

“Fall is one of our favorite seasons because it always feels both fresh and nostalgic and how we’re always in that back-to-school mode when autumn rolls around,” says Van Iderstine. “We were talking about how shopping for school supplies and new cozy clothes is one of the best parts of the season, so we translated that to nails! Each of the six shades represents the comfort and excitement of autumn: cozy knits, well-worn essentials, and warm lattes.”

“We were launching a whole new innovative technology of nails—gel nail stickers—and wanted someone who could provide a unique vibe and perspective to it like no other,” says McFerran, CEO and co-founder of Glamnetic. As male nails were rising in popularity on social media, Glamnetic connected with Lil Huddy to create several original nail designs for this launch. “Every nail kit is so unique and simple to Chase’s personal experiences, music, and journey with nails. And literally, every single nail within one kit is different, which allows for a truly customized nail experience,” she explains. 

“I have a new collection coming out on 11/1, which is a collab with Sara Tan, beauty director and co-host of Gloss Angeles podcast,” shares Boyce, the founder of Nails of LA. “We created this abstract, modern art design with thin, bold curves on a glass french tip using Orly’s Builder in a Bottle. It became one of my most-liked Instagram posts and became known as the Sara Tan look. Since then, other nail artists actually tag me to show their interpretation of the design.”

“My sister, Sabrina, and I were really inspired by what we saw on both the fall/winter 2021 fashion shows as well as the latest trends on red carpets,” says Galoostian, Tella Nails co-founder. “Our press-on sets are inspired by fashion, which is why we consider ourselves a fashion accessory. For example, our chrome design was inspired by all the metallic styles we saw at fashion week, from Chanel to Louis Vuitton.”

“This fall, Olive and June is all about cool-toned darker shades and the coziest neutrals possible, but this year, we’ve put a little bit of a vintage spin on them,” Van Iderstine explains. “The neutrals are all inspired by all the chunky knits we always bring out this time of year. They all give us really nostalgic, back-to-school vibes that we’re obsessed with.”

According to McFerran, unique nail designs on every fingernail have been a huge trend lately. In fact, Lil Huddy agrees, noting “Purple is a key color as well as black, teal, and the Pantone colors. Bats, castles, and brains are all in, in terms of design. And animal print works year-round!”

For fall 2021, Boyce predicts that bold, hyper-saturated colors will continue to trend. “We’re seeing really bold blues, sage greens, warm berries and plums, and approachable oranges,” she explains. “It’s not quite the tropical, almost-electric orange we saw during summer, but a welcoming, autumn-harvest orange.” In terms of current designs, Boyce is seeing a lot of gilded nail art, which is inspired by the embellishments and hardware seen on the runway. “I love this French drip that looks like gold dripping down the nails and nail art that uses gold foil as an accent,” she shares.

Boyce also likes to use gold for half-moon nail art, which looks great for fall.

Galoostian is excited to see French manicures (but with a twist) back in style: “At Tella Nails, we wanted to bring a modern take on the classic French manicure that’s perfect for fall fashion with our set Model on Duty.” She also is into blush pink with a high-gloss shine.

Van Iderstine is adamant that anyone can do nail art—seriously! Her advice is to practice on a piece of scratch paper to get the motions down before trying on your real nails. “If your nails are on the smaller side, do the best you can and then just use your Clean Up Brush to tidy up any place you got polish outside the lines,” she says. Pro tip: Wait until your polish is a little bit drier before you clean up. No one will know you made a mistake!

McFerran is betting big on at-home gel stickers. “I’m so excited about the technology of these nails—it’s insane,” she exclaims. “You can get gel nails with perfect designs at home with ultra-simple application. Just place the sticker on and file off the excess, then cure under the UV lamp, and you get perfect nails that last up to three weeks.” Lil Huddy agrees, sharing that he loves the gel-sticker technology because it is difficult to mess up, and you can get cool designs on your nails without having to spend hours in the salon.

When it comes to doing nail art at home, practice makes perfect. Start simply and use washi tape to create guides, then see what happens. Boyce recommends keeping a dry brush handy to dip into acetone-based nail polish remover to clean up any mistakes—you can always re-do it.  Also, Boyce is a big fan of following nail art tutorials on social media. “Just remember that not all ‘hacks’ actually work,” she cautions. “Some do, like the silicone-stamper hack to create the perfect French tip, but not all.” 

Galoostian and her sister started Tella Nails during the pandemic. They had a ritual of getting their nails done together at least twice a month and found it challenging to do their own nails at home. “Our premade nail art sets are good to go or, if you’re a bit better at DIY designs, our solid-color sets as a canvas for your nail art,” explains Galoostian. With several designs to choose from, these pretty press-ons can also double as a fun conversation piece.  

According to Van Iderstine, the key to a perfect mani is the Olive and June Mani System. “We created it with all the tools you need and nothing you don’t,” she explains.  A little bit of prep work (and plenty of drying time) makes all the difference.

Multiuse kits are going to be key for those looking to build their nail art arsenals at home. For instance, all Glamnetic kits come with gel nail stickers, a cuticle stick, a nail file, and an alcohol pad, so you won’t have to worry about finding additional tools to prep your nails. Following the application instructions should allow the stickers to last for two weeks, but McFerran recommends curing them under the UV light (sold separately) for extra-long wear.

According to Boyce, nail tools make all the difference when creating DIY designs. “I do a lot of my freehand nail art using a striper brush,” she shares. “You can get either a thin accent line or a thicker line, depending on how much pressure you apply.” Boyce also recommends adding Orly’s dry brush, detailer brush, and Thumb Palette to your kit.

If this is your first foray into press-on territory, don’t fret. Tella Nails makes it simple with three easy-to-follow steps.  First, Galoostian recommends using an alcohol wipe on each nail to eliminate excess oils. This helps the adhesive stay on longer. Second, if you’re not great at doing your own nails, she highly recommends Tella Nails’ brush-on nail glue. “It’s extremely easy to apply, just like nail polish, and is mess-free and helps you apply the nails faster,” Galoostian shares. “Plus, it’s so small that you can throw it in your bag in case you have a nail emergency.” Finally, do your best to apply the press-on nails as close to the cuticle as possible. This will help make the nails look natural. 

“Our favorite nail art looks right now are super graphic and geometric,” shares Van Iderstine. Luckily, these are also the easiest to do at home, whether you use stickers or DIY! According to the Olive and June team, anything can be a nail art tool (toothpicks, bobby pins, etc.), and these are perfect for creating lines, swirls, and super-cute, modern flower prints.

For those less handy in the DIY nail art department, McFerran recommends mixing and matching a bunch of gel sticker sets. “It feels very much like an artistic, creative process, choosing complementary styles among the 10 kits,” she shares.  Plus, both hands are guaranteed to look perfect because you won’t have to painstakingly paint the designs yourself.

A diagonal cutoff is also really easy for DIY. “It looks modern, geometric, and clean,” explains Boyce. “You can use washi tape to create the outline and then mix and match color combinations to achieve a fun look.” If precision isn’t your forte, then Boyce recommends trying half circles and swirls since they don’t have to be perfect to look good. Finally, Boyce is a fan of the French tip year-round. She likes to experiment with different variations of the classic design using a silicone nail stamper to create a cool marble effect. 

“To be honest, I’m not great at nail art, so I’m going to stick to my pre-designed Strawberries and Créme set,” declares Galoostian. But for those down to DIY, don’t worry. The Tella Nails team is super into mixing and matching or, as they call it, “Skittle nails,” which is achieved by wearing different-colored nails within a similar color palette on each finger. “Find nails that are in the same color range and start with the darkest color on your pinky and transition to the lightest color on your thumb or vice versa,” she instructs. The Core Collection and Luxe short bundle are perfect hacks if you want to bring this look to life. Another easy nail art design to create with press-ons is the new viral French-manicure hack. Wear any Tella Nails set and apply any nail polish color to a jelly silicone nail stamper. Push the tip of the nail into the stamper and voilà—you have the perfect DIY French manicure.

Up Next: Fall Beauty Hall of Fame: The Top Products Worth Your Attention

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