Simple Yet Stunning Nail Trends That Aren't Just For Minimalists

We'll be honest, we do love a busy nail. Polish with embellishments and glitter and bright colors? We can't get enough. But nail art doesn't always have to be elaborate to be totally stunning and eye-catching. It turns out simple nails can make just as much of a statement as loud nails — and they're making a bold comeback of their own. Yep, no matter if you're a minimalist or an anti-minimalist, there's something for you when it comes to simple nail trends. 

That's definitely good news, because wearing something a little more straightforward on your talons is expected to be the big manicure trend for autumn 2023. But don't just take our word for it. "I think autumn nail trends for this year will be very chic and minimalistic — neutral colours, with very simple, elegant nail art," Karen Louise, a nail expert at Salon System, told Professional Beauty.

But how can you actually do a simple manicure in a way that still feels fun and, well, noticeable? Here are some of our very favorite designs that won't leave you wishing you'd gone for something a little more daring in the salon.

Pick polka dots

Clearly, simple nail art designs don't have to be boring. Polka dots are a cute and easy way to bring something a little more exciting to your nails without having to sit in the salon chair for hours for ornate designs. All you really need to recreate this look at home is two colors, one for a base and one for the polka dots, plus a base and topcoat to protect your nails and make them last. 

You don't even need professional tools! Start with your base coat and then add two to three coats of your color (how much you need will depend on how opaque each coat is). Then, grab a bobby pin and pull it apart so that it looks like an open V. All that's left to do is dip the ball on the end into the polish and dot it onto your nails. See, we told you this was an easy one!

The half-border

How simple yet effective is this half-border idea? Instead of creating a line all the way around the nail, putting a little pop of color on the edge of the nail and along one side is a simple way to add a little fun to your nails without going too crazy. This idea is super easy to do on your own too. For something a little more understated, you can go with a nude shade on the whole nail — but how bold you decide to go with your accent is totally up to you. One thing we will say, though? Darker shades definitely a trend for fall 2023.

Bring the bold dots

What could be cuter than having bold dots on two nails (or more if you like) and the rest of your nails fully painted? Going for a bold shade like this red amps things up a little if you like your nails to have a little something extra, and you could add as many dots to the bare nails as you like. Want to keep it super simple? Then stick with one. Want something a little extra? Then why not add two or three? You can also incorporate different colors if you don't want to be too matchy-matchy from nail to nail.

Cuff it (with glitter)

We're pretty sure this is what Beyoncé was talking about when she said "Cuff It." Okay, probably not. But we can pretend, right? In our opinion, glitter nails never go out of style, and this glitter cuff is a fun way to make the polish more wearable even in the daytime. Just apply a base coat with a color of your choice (it certainly doesn't have to be a nude shade) and then grab your glitter polish, only applying it by the nail bed. Just remember that the chunkier the glitter is, the more defined it will look. For something more understated, opt for a finer glitter.

Give us a wave

A simple wavy line is another way to bring the fun in a more minimalistic way. All you need to recreate this look is a base color on your nail (again, a nude will work best for a truly simple look) and another shade that will contrast with it. For something a little more exciting, opt for a brighter color like neon to really stand out against the plainer background. Your nail tech will likely have plenty of tools to create a wiggly line like this one, though if you're doing it at home, a nail art pen or fine line brush will be the way to go.

Holla at us with holographic nails

Grab your holographic nail polish and go! Holographic nails are another simple trend that is always making a comeback, and we can totally see why. This is another look that doesn't require too much time in the salon chair or sitting at home with your polishes, as all you need is your base and top coat plus your holographic lacquer. There are also so many different looks you can create so easily, as all you have to do to change it up is switch which colors you opt for. And, don't forget, you can also get the look using nail powders.

Put your hearts up

In the words of Ariana Grande, put your hearts up! This stunning design is a dream for anyone who's a fan of traditionally feminine style and it's surprisingly easy to replicate. You don't even need professional tools! Start with your base coat, then add three small dots to your nails using a stretched open bobby pin. You want one in the middle and then two above either side (as if you're creating a Mickey Mouse face shape). Then, use the same Bobby pin to blend the three dots together to make one shape (so push the two top dots into the bottom). Voilà!

The barely there Frenchie

French manicures have been making a solid comeback, but now they're a little different. A super thin version of the classic is what you want to be on trend, as the classic and oh-so-simple staple gets a modern upgrade. "French manicures will be barely there and very thin and natural this year," OPI global ambassador Harriet Westmoreland told British Vogue of the 2023 upgrade. 

One of the reasons this unassuming trend is in is that practical, short nails are also making a bit of a comeback. As luxury nail artist and educator Jess White shared with Glamour, "Short nails are definitely in this autumn! After a summer of flaunting long fun nails, it's time to cut them back and bring in the new season with fresh short nails."

Get icy

As the weather turns colder, icy nails are coming in. Celebrity manicurist Michelle Class told Who What Wear that the glazed donut nails we've been seeing a lot of are still set to be hot (even if the weather isn't), but will have a slight twist for the colder months. 

"I think there will still be a huge emphasis on the glazed, chrome nail. It's not going anywhere!" she revealed of the simple yet absolutely gorgeous manicure. "I would anticipate that shimmers and pearly-shade polishes will be a huge hit going into winter for an icy, chrome feel." The cold never bothered us anyway.

Unicorn nails

Unicorn nails are another upgrade for glazed donut nails but rely a little more on pastel and traditionally feminine shades to create the finished look. "Glazed-donut nails use a sheer chrome pigment, so the base color shows through more," manicurist Julie Kandalec told Glamour. "Unicorn nails have a white chrome base with an opalescent flash in different shades like pink and orange, and green and purple." The reason this simplistic trend is so easy is because there's no busy work creating ornate nail art, only painting. All you need to do is get your hands on a polish that fits the bill.

Color those tips

Who said a French manicure has to be boring? This look proves you certainly don't have to stick to the familiar when it comes to this classic look. All you have to do for a twist on the traditional is change up the color on your tips. What could be simpler? If you're trying this yourself at home, an easy way to create the shape is to use French manicure stickers so you're getting a cohesive look on each nail. Our favorite part? You can do the tips in whatever shade happens to be hot right now!

Call it chrombre

Allow us to explain. Chrombre — a mix of the words chrome and ombre — is exactly what it sounds like. If you know anything at all about nail trends, you'll know that chrome nails have been one of the hottest mani trends in 2023. But the update on that trend is making it ombre, by creating a fade-out effect the closer to the nail bed you get. "Have your nail tech create an ombre nail using the colors of your choice, then apply a sheer chrome over the top. It can be done in any color, it's so versatile," celebrity manicurist Michelle Humphrey told Glamour. Who knew adding such a simple twist could create something so cool?

Show off your syrup nails

Not heard of syrup nails? Allow us to explain, because this is a nail trend you're probably going to be hearing a lot more about. "This trend originated in Asia a while back, and now seems to be taking over," celebrity manicurist Michelle Humphrey told Glamour. "This is where glass or jelly colors are layered over the nail to give a sheer syrup effect, and it can be developed into bespoke designs with several colors." You can change up what shades you opt for depending on the time of the year, though Humphrey suggested picking more muted colors as we head into autumn, when darker shades are expected to be in.

Spread the love

It doesn't have to be Valentine's Day to try this love-ly design. This super eye-catching idea makes the tips of your nails look like hearts, and it's easier than you might think! We'd recommend starting with a neutral shade all over the nail (something that matches your nails is perfect). Then grab your polish — which doesn't have to be red, by the way! You can get creative with your colors.

Create half of the love heart shape using the brush. Basically, start by creating the top left part of the heart and swipe downwards towards the tip. Then, do the exact same thing on the other side to create the other half of the heart. And that's it. How quick and easy was that?

Matte-llics are simple yet stunning, too!

Who said metallics can't be matte? This trend is easy-peasy to recreate at home too, so it's perfect if you're looking to cut down on how much you're spending on your nails. But how do you get the matte-llic look? "Choose your favorite metal (silver, gold, or rose gold) and top it with a mattifying top coat," Olivia Van Iderstine, mani trend expert at Olive & June, told Byrdie. "The matte metallic look has a high impact payoff but it's super easy to DIY," she added. See, we told you simple nails aren't just for minimalists anymore!