It's official—these are the biggest nail trends of 2023, according to experts

Milky-white hues, come on through

Street style of colourful nail trend 2023
(Image credit: Getty Images/Claudio Lavenia / Contributor)

The nail category has had quite the boom in recent years, and in 2023 nail trends  aren't going anywhere. In fact, nail colours and nail art is easily one of our most closely followed trends here at Marie Claire. Everything from Hailey Bieber's glazed-donut nails and TikTok's red-nail theory to the modern French manicure and neon designs have us in awe. In fact, if the past few months are anything to go by, 2023 might just be the biggest year for nail trends ever. And we're here for it.

With limitless creativity at our fingertips (quite literally) and salons now offering a variety of styles to choose from, we’ve never seen so many innovative designs and fresh techniques. So far this year, it's been all about imagination on our nails with optical illusion designs, cat eye techniques and Barbiecore galore.

But, if nail art isn’t your thing, don’t fret! Nail condition is getting the spotlight; focusing on hydration, health and unpolished beauties. Here, the pros discuss all of the trends we’re going to see everywhere next year, plus how to try them yourself. 

1. Milky-white nails

The main nail trend we're seeing all over our feed this year? Milky-white nails. It plays into the clean-girl nail trend that's already proved itself so popular (more on that later), but with a sheer, white hue. The key is in making sure your nails are preened to perfection, first. Then you want to layer on a sheer, high-shine milk-hued polish, making sure it's sheer enough that you can still see your natural nail underneath. Finish off with a gel-effect top coat for extra luxe points. The best bit? It's seriously low maintenance—regrowth is barely noticeable. 

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2. Pink glazed nails 

Hailey Bieber's doughnut-glazed nails were everywhere last year, and this year is proving no different. Seemingly every week, we're desperate to know what her nail artist, Zola Ganzorigt, will come up with next. Our favourite so far? This one. Hailey's latest look incorporates her classic glazed, moonlight finish but with a new twist—the pink gazed nail. 

"This super on-trend blush pink hue is everywhere right now, across catwalks, beauty products and now nails," Juanita Huber-Millet, Founder of Townhouse nail salons tells us. Hot pink and sparkly, it's looking very Barbiecore to us (see trend two below). 

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3. Barbiecore 

Of course, the release of Barbie in July is going to extend beyond hair trends and onto our talons. “Think lots of pink (all shades from hot, Barbie pink to fluorescent pink) on long, oval-shaped nails,” says Metta Francis, nail technician and founder of Nails by Mets. “Alongside pink, there will be a nostalgic nod back to the ‘90s and a retro vibe, inspired by Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling’s neon pink and green spandex and double denim — think of it as Barbiecore and dopamine dressing combined,” she adds. 

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4. Micro-French nails

Micro French nails has already increased over 200% in search this year. Otherwise known as the skinny French, the French manicure stands the test of time, and this year we are going to be seeing a lot more of the micro French, which looks chic in every shade of polish.

"French tip nails are a classic that has had a makeover, securing its status as a staple of the nail design inspiration pages. Gone are the days where a French meant a simple white tip, now the term is being used to describe much more ‘out there’ tips, minimal tips and everything in between," says Charlotte Knight, nail tech and founder of Ciaté London

Considering giving this one a try at home? Knight shares her top tips:

"Use tape to section off your tip and paint on your desired colour" or practice with a small nail brush. "Alternatively, you can opt for a nail sticker to get you this look, simply seal with a clear coat after applying in your desired area to ensure it lasts.”

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5. Your nails but better 

If going over the top with your nails isn’t your thing, then fear not, there’s something for you too. “On the flip slide to Barbiecore, the ultra-hydrated and natural manicured look is already big in 2023,” says Francis. “It's about maintaining healthy nails and nursing your nails back to good health.” And this can be done with a variety of treatments both in the salon and at home. Nail treatments like IBX or CND Rescue RXx have never been so popular.

“Use lots of nail and hand serums and oils and plenty of rich creams, which feels super luxurious. It's something I've been doing for many years, but I'm seeing requests for this type of service growing in popularity,” says Francis. With 'cuticle oil benefits' being a hugely searched term on Google over the past three months, we’re predicting this to be the case.

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6. Prescriptive manicures 

Stay with us, we promise this one is a lot more interesting than going to your local pharmacist. Taking the concept of 'your nails but better' one step further is prescriptive manicures. Essentially, incorporating all of the bespoke nature of the above trend, using strengthening and moisturising treatments suitable for your nail type, but with the addition of a custom-made colour shade “to complement your skin tone,” which Francis explains is going to be even bigger going in to summer. “More 'prescriptive' professional nail services will be in demand,” says Francis. “Less 'in and out the door as soon as possible' and more individual care and service, which takes much longer.”  

7. Opalescent polish 

"Off the back of the crazed glazed donut trend, opalescent polishes will continue to be popular until all our shimmery hearts are content," says Zahra Beedassy, creative nail expert and founder of Plaster salon.

The difference between these trends is subtle but beautiful. Just like the precious stone, you'll find that an opalescence is a more milky white base with a spectrum of colours shimmering depending on how the light hits it. Opal powder can also be added to a bunch of different base shades to get a unique finished design. 

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8. Clean-girl nails

Yep, the clean girl nail trend is still going strong! Right now, it is about taking minimalism and the skinification of nails but incorporating a little bit of nail art, too. 

“The world of skincare is taking over and people are taking care of themselves now more than ever. I think that the clean-girl aesthetic is here to stay; with minimal, short, well groomed nails being at the forefront,” says celebrity nail artist, Iram Shelton. “The perfect nail shade to achieve this look is my favourite shade that you’ll probably have heard me talk about over and over again, OPI Bubble Bath. I find this shade compliments all skin tones and can be paired with nail art if that’s your style,” she adds. 

Often with this trend, nail art is in the style of very tiny embellishments, a reverse French manicure or teeny gold flakes. You can tone it up or down depending on how you’re feeling. 

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9. Optical illusion nails 

Although this trend has been bubbling for a while, it has exploded in 2023 with more salons offering the intricate design. It essentially combines ombré and French manicure together to form a simple but effective finish that makes you second guess where one colour starts and ends. We especially love when the optical illusion trend has been jazzed up even further, including this matte finish, giving the design an ultra-luxe feeling. 

10. Layered textures

"Whether you’re using gold foils, gems, decals or raised patterns created with builder gels, textured nails offer us a bit of subtle drama for 2023," says Beedassy. Think of it as maximalism for the minimalists. This design can be done at home (just hit up your local craft store for some supplies) or at the salon, depending on what nail art they offer. 

You can ask your nail tech what gems, foils or chrome powders they have, plus whether they can offer products like blooming gel to add some dimension. The possibilities are truly endless. 

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11. Embellished cat eye nails

True nail enthusiasts know that TikTok’s velvet nails are actually using the cat eye nail technique—where a magnet is used to manipulate the polish and create multidimensional effects. And it's been around forever. Unlike velvet nails, which is just one effect you can create using this magnetic polish, the possibilities of cat eye nails are endless.

This trend has been stepped up a notch in 2023, using the cat eye effect as the base for added nail art over the top. We're seeing starry nights, galaxy 2.0 designs and even optimal illusion—combining two 2023 designs together to create something truly spectacular. 

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Beauty Contributor

Tori is a freelance beauty journalist and contributor for Marie Claire. She has written for various titles, including Allure, Glamour, Elle, Refinery29, Brides, and more. Currently training to be a nail tech, Tori is a total nail enthusiast and always has time to talk all things nail art. When she’s not writing about beauty and testing products, Tori can be found walking her rescue dog Pip, drinking great coffee, and eating as many croissants as humanly possible.

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