"Hot Chocolate" Nails Are the Perfect Neutral Mani Trending for Winter

Negative space manicure with wavy caramel design and white lines


If you're stuck in a mani rut and need something that feels fresh but still cozy, look no further: Mercury retrograde is (finally!) over, and "hot chocolate" nails are here to usher you into an inspiring new era. The perfect way to comfortably branch out if you've been gravitating towards neutrals, festive reds, or polishes as dark as your cold winter heart, brown manicures are having a major moment. Perhaps it's due to a seasonal tendency towards hygge vibes, the continued dominance of '90s and Y2K color palettes, or a desire to pair our nails with sweet treat-inspired products, but one thing's for sure: Shades of mocha, caramel, and mahogany have us all feeling warm and fuzzy these days.

If you've previously disregarded brown manicures as boring or hard to fit into your personal aesthetic, know that couldn't be further from the case. Whether you subtly dip into the trend via brown French tips, try the hue as part of an intricate design, or go for a gradient with a few different shades, hot chocolate nails are more versatile than you think and sure to make a statement. Keep reading for 17 of our favorite brown nail ideas to carry you through the rest of winter and all year round.

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Two-Tone Chocolate French

Brown French manicure with glossy base and matte tips


Remember those monochromatic French manicures that burst onto the scene several years back, featuring a glossy base and a matte tip? My Pinterest history sure does, and brown is the perfect shade to take this trend into 2023. From a distance, it looks like your typical sophisticated dark polish, but the real magic happens when everyone notices the subtle detail up close.

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Cartoon Gradient

Gradient brown manicure with black outlines and cartoon light details


Alternatively, if you want to rock many shades of brown, a gradient manicure is the ultimate solution. This one adds intrigue with outlines as well as white marks where the light would hit, making your nails feel straight out of a comic book.

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Winter Witch

Dark brown manicure with witchy celestial design accent nails


Striking the perfect balance between solid espresso polish and celestial accent nails, this mani has us ready to join the hot chocolate coven. The design here is pretty intricate, so unless your hand is especially steady, you may want to find stencils or decals you love or head to a pro.

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Half-Brown, Half-Black

Manicure with two brown nails, one black nail, and two split brown/black nails


If you're looking to experiment without straying too far from your all-black aesthetic, committing just halfway to a rich chocolate shade is a chic place to start. This balanced mani features a couple solid nails in each color, with central accent nails divided between both.

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Hot Chocolate Hearts

Brown manicure with various tones and layered heart accent nail


This take on hot chocolate nails reminds us of the latte art that makes a trip to the coffee shop that much more special. The design is fairly DIY-friendly, too: Just use several brown polishes, then grab a striping brush to carefully create a layered heart accent design, using a combo of the shades you didn't use for that nail's base.

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Whimsical French

French manicure with brown and white smiley face, flower, sparkle, and wavy line design tips


Take your brown French mani to the next level with this array of fun designs, which simultaneously plays into the nostalgia factor and adds a dose of joy to any look. A couple of statement rings complete the sophisticated-meets-sweet aesthetic.

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Cow Print Tips

Manicure with brown and white cow print French tips


Brown cow print is just as versatile and fun as the black-and-white version, making it the perfect option to spice up your next manicure. This one features the pattern in subtle French tip form, which is sure to attract countless second looks.

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Iridescent Brown and Plum

Manicure with brown base, iridescent plum shimmer, and 3D water droplet details


What doesn't this brown nail design have? Featuring a coffee-colored base, iridescent plum highlights, and mesmerizing 3D water droplet details, this mani is a reminder of the fun you and your nail tech can have when creating a unique look together.

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Golden Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate brown manicure with gold glitter double French tips


Make your hot chocolate nails even more decadent by adding a gold glitter double French tip. This mani uses the Paintbox shades Like Cocoa and Like Gilded ($22 each).

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Tortoise with a Dash of Barbiecore

Manicure with alternating brown tortoise-patterned and hot pink nails


Next time you're rocking tortoise accessories, take the look to the next level with matching nails. Here, the classic brown-toned print shares the stage with hot pink for a joyful, unapologetically fabulous statement.

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Latte Swirls

Manicure with brown and cream swirls reminiscent of coffee


If you love the idea of a latte art-inspired mani but can't decide on a particular design, coffee-colored swirls on a cream base are just as stunning. Best of all, imperfection only adds to the intrigue, so grab a toothpick or striping brush and swirl away.

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Warm-Toned Tiles

Manicure with two medium brown slightly marbled nails and two brown and white tile patterned nails


For a brown nail idea that feels modern and creative, try taking inspiration from interior design. This tile pattern pays tribute to a real-life floor, and while a look like this takes time and precision, the result is totally stunning.

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Ferrero Rocher

Warm medium brown manicure with half-painted accent nail with gold middle stripe


Just like the most creative warm drinks, some of the best hot chocolate nails celebrate other favorite sweets. This manicure is all things Ferrero Rocher—a chestnut main color pays tribute to milk chocolate, while caramel swirls and a wrapper-esque gold glitter stripe comprise the accent nail.

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Salted Caramel Swirls

Manicure with clear base and medium brown swirl design with white wavy line accent


Salted caramel has become one of the most popular ways to enhance hot chocolate, and it's just as delectable on your nails. This mani uses a wavy design and negative space for a result that's both artsy and cozy.

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Chocolate Drip

Manicure with multi-toned chocolate brown drip tips


From cocoa to caramel, the rich shades in these dripping tips look almost good enough to eat. Since a design like this doesn't have to be perfect, it's a great DIY option to try with a few of your favorite brown polishes.

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'70s Vibes

Manicure with half-dark brown, half-beige nails


The '70s called, and they're thrilled to see this interpretation bring some of the era's penchant for browns into 2023. These are Chillhouse Chill Tips in That '70s Chill ($16), so recreating the look is as simple as finding your perfect fit, then carefully attaching each nail with the included glue.

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Gradient with Half-Moons

Long, almond-shaped manicure with brown-toned gradient and negative space half moons


Another variation on a brown gradient, this mani features negative space half-moons at the cuticle. The result helps to further elongate these stunning almond tips.

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