We've said it before, but now it's confirmed; A creative manicure not only improves your outfit, but also your mood. "Having your nails properly done takes your confidence to a completely different level," celebrity manicurist Jenna Hipp, who has painted the famous fingers of Jessica Alba, Selena Gomez, and Zoe Saldana among many others, tells us. "A good mani/pedi can make you feel like a completely different person, so have fun and experiment with out-of-the-box colors or unique designs."
There's no time to experiment with the latest nail trends like the present, and as you're gearing up for your holiday parties, consider pairing that perfect LBD with a set of decked-out digits. "Plan your nails and wardrobe in advance, especially for special occasions and work-related parties," Hipp adds. "Nails will be front and center since you will most likely have a drink in your hand." We asked more pro manicurists to give us tips on creating festive holiday nail art that veer on the more trendy side than the tacky. Put away the plans to draw Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen on each of your fingers and click through our gallery of understated patterns, from negative-space nails to sophisticated takes on glitter!
1. Negative Space Half-Moons
As the saying goes, what's old is new again-in lieu of decking out your digits in an intricate pattern, celebrity manicurist Tracylee predicts the vintage half-moon design will make a comeback. "Nail art has taken a more grown-up approach in its simplicity. Negative space manicures are on-trend and give an understated nail look," she says. "Try painting nails in Sally Hansen's Miracle Gel in Dig Fig ($10; drugstore.com) and leaving the moons devoid of any color."
2. Iridescent Glitter Overlay
Though the less-daring manicure mavens would advise against donning a glitter top coat, the effect is surprisingly elegant when layered over the right color. "A nude base with a soft pink or lavender glitter can be both understated and opulent," says Smith amp Cult founder Dineh Mohajer, who recommends using the tawny Feathers and Flesh shade with the shimmery Vegas Post Apocalyptic lacquer ($18 each; net-a-porter.com). The mix of reflective and holographic glitters dress up the neutral tone, with an overall effect slightly reminiscent of that now-infamous sheer crystal number Rihanna worked at the CFDA Awards.
3. Holographic Oil Slick Texture
Though we'd rather not tarnish our new stilettos by stepping in an oil puddle, the multi-tonal effect proves to be gorgeous when re-purposed as nail art. Layer on a dark base color to start, then tear off a piece of a makeup sponge to dab layers of iridescent lacquers on over the top. "Rip the sponge into small pieces using your hands, not scissors. The jagged edges of the makeup sponge will help create additional texture," says celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann. We first blotted on her Dream Weaver hue ($18; deborahlippmann.com), then alternated between the Dear Mr. Fantasy, Xanadu, Marrakesh Express, and Weird Science shades ($18 each; deborahlippmann.com) until reaching our desired effect. "Use the bottle brush to paint the sponge, then squeeze the sponge and blot excess polish onto a piece of paper to ensure consistency is even," she advises. "Apply the sponge to the nail gently to your artistic preferences, and wait 1-2 minutes before applying each layer."
4. Glitter Ombre Tips
Got a chip in your nude mani? A few coats of shimmer lacquer can instantly hide any flaws, not to mention add some staying power as glitter is often harder to remove. "My favorite way to wear glitter that doesn't make me feel like I have fallen into my daughter Gracie's art box is to use a fine glitter polish like Party Shoes ($25 for a set of 5; nordstrom.com) on the tips of the nails, dragging it down to the cuticles for an ombre finish," says Ciate founder Charlotte Knight. "I think it is a trendy twist to a French Manicure."
5. Hunter Green Glitter
Rather than lacquering up in the traditional pine-esque green, a deep hunter version gives off a high-fashion vibe. Factor in a few sweeps of gold glitter like Butter London's Lucy in the Sky ($15; butterlondon.com) for a bolder take on the ombre nail trend. "I particularly love a look one of my Instagram followers recently posted using my rich green On The Hunt shade ($5; target.com) as the base, then using a delicate gold glitter over the top," says Sonia Kashuk.
6. Studio 54-Inspired Sparkle
Are you the type to subscribe to the "more is more" manicure mentality? There's no time like the present to break out the extra glimmer. "The holidays are an ideal time to experiment with playful, vibrant, sparkly, even gaudy, over-the-top looks. Glitter nail lacquer is a no-brainer festive choice," says Mohajer. "Shattered Souls is a chunky gold glitter, which for me, conjures up a nostalgic visual of '70s sparkly linoleum. It also feels super foxy when layered on the poppy-red Kundalini Hustle ($18 each; net-a-porter.com)." If an all-over glitter finish is a little much, concentrate the shimmer at your tips, or go for a sole accent nail. "Preferably on the ring finger-who needs a ring?" adds Mohajer.
7. Rose Gold Half-Moon
Take the runway trend of negative space nail art into the real world by filling in your cuticles with a rose gold hue like Illamasqua's Trilliant ($24; illamasqua.com) in a half-moon shape. "I really love adding a glittering moon to a bare nail," says celebrity manicurist Fleury Rose. "It's beautiful, but a bit more subtle." Even nail art novices can master the design-just clean up any uneven areas with a pointed Q-Tip dipped in remover, and finish the effect with a generous sweep of top coat.
8. Matte French Tips
With traditional pink and white French manicure deemed passe, you can take the pattern and switch the color scheme to give it a modern twist that's anything but prom-esque. "For a more contrast and a rock-and-roll vibe, try pairing a deep metallic green like The In Crowd ($15 for a set of 12; costco.com) with a matte black tip," says celebrity manicurist Jenna Hipp. We traced our tips Chanel's Black Satin ($27; chanel.com), then swiped a layer of matte top coat just over the inky noir hue.
9. Matte Metallics
Sure, disco ball-esque Minx manis will always make a statement, but a brushed steel effect offers up a more modern way to wear heavy metals. "Create my favorite textured look by applying Sally Hansen's Big Matte Top Coat ($6; drugstore.com) over a metallic nail color," says Tracylee, who recommends using the Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear in Celeb City ($3; drugstore.com) as your base hue. "It still allows the shimmer to show through, which creates a cool effect." Plus, since the shine-free finish tones down the otherwise flashy color, the manicure translates seamlessly into work-appropriate territory.