Nail art is just like a makeup. It gives us a chance to play with color and shape in order to express an underlying mood. Whether we want to channel positivity and optimism in the form of a bright and vivid "feel-good manicure" or convey a dramatic, dark, and moody emotion, there's a color and/or design to do just that. Lately, I've been veering toward the latter aesthetic. Blame it on the change of seasons or my rising anticipation for Halloween, but I'm looking to replace some of the lighter shades I've been wearing all summer long with something more… let's say Wednesday Addams–approved.
While pondering all the possibilities for the best witchy manicures, I asked myself: What's more Addams Family–esque than a combination of black and red? The answer, my friends, is nothing. Black-and-red manicures are dark, mysterious, and dramatic in the best way (just like the most iconic Halloween movie characters). I took it upon myself to begin a deep dive on Instagram to find the best ones, and I think I managed to find them. Keep scrolling to see the 13 (naturally) best black-and-red nail designs from some of Instagram's finest nail artists.
Alicia Torello is an editorial manicurist based in NYC. She's responsible for this darkly romantic black-and-red manicure, which models wore down the runway at the Rodarte show back in February. She layered OPI Iconic Infinite Shine Nail Lacquer in Raisin the Bar ($13) and We're in the Black ($10).
This black-and-red manicure is courtesy of Paintbox Nails, a super-buzzy nail studio in NYC (check out its Instagram account for more inspiring images of nail art). The stark lines and dots make it the perfect option for nail art minimalists and those people who want their manicure to work just as well at the office as it does at weekend brunch.
Chillhouse is another trendy NYC nail salon and happens to be a Byrdie-editor favorite for flawless manicures. This is just an example of the artsy nail designs you can request. The red squiggle and Dalmatian spots were inspired not by The Addams Family, but by the iconic Disney villain Cruella de Vil. Inspiration aside, it looks like a cool piece of modern art.
You know that part in Beetlejuice where Michael Keaton's character turns into a giant snake creature? That's what this black-and-red manicure reminds me of, albeit in a very cool and minimalistic way. It comes courtesy of Kesang Gurung, an NYC-based nail artist you can book through Chillhouse. Start with a base of sandy beige nail color (we like Essie Sand Tropez Nail Polish, $9). Then, reach for true black, white, and crimson to get that eye-catching squiggly detail.
Naomi Yasuda is one of our favorite nail artists to follow on Instagram, and here's just one of the many inspiring nail designs you'll find on her page. This black-and-red reverse French manicure was created for an Adam Selman fashion show, although we'll be wearing it in daily life. Don't think we didn't notice that inky rock 'n' roll kajal liner, either…
Yasuda is also the artist behind these incredibly alluring corset nails, which, to us, all but beg to be worn throughout the autumn and winter season (not to mention Halloween). What really takes these up a notch is the subtle red-to-black ombré base.
Yasuda also took charge of the manicures at Kenzo's fall 2018 show during Paris Fashion Week. These fiery black-and-red nails were contrasted with lacy floral blue designs. Both are simply incredible, though we must confess that we have a special place in my heart for those edgy red flames. They're so bold, dramatic, and eye-catching. We can't help it.
Here we have another Kenzo-inspired manicure from Yasuda. This time it's red-and-black tiger print. There's not much else to say about this high-fashion manicure other than the fact that we want it on our nails right this second.
If minimal nail designs are your only speed, take inspiration from Yasuda's geometric black-and-red manicure for Elle. The sharp shapes and vivid color make for an interesting dichotomy between each nail.
See? Yasuda's Instagram account really is rife with nail art inspo. This time it's a black-and-red rose manicure that's equal parts romantic and vampy. To us, it looks like the perfect combination of Disney princess and Morticia Addams (which, funnily enough, is our ideal aesthetic for this fall).
If you're short of inspiration, draw reference from your favorite fall fabrics for new nail art ideas.
We think these tartan nails from expert manicurist Mei Kawajiri are nothing short of incredible. Sure, we'll admit that you'll need more than just black and red polish, but the extra effort (and color) will be well worth it.
Believe it or not, these gel nails are hand-painted. It just goes to show what an expert manicurist can do. Just look at that detail and precision.
To us, this rosy design is the ultimate example of amazing floral nail art. Everything about it is perfect, from the whimsical way the roses are drawn to the clear-to-black ombré base. Again, we're obsessed.
Check out more red and black nail inspo below:
Next, check out our favorite black-and-gold manicures, because nail inspo is one of our most favorite things.