15 Halloween Nail Designs for the Costume-Averse

Updated 09/06/18

I've said it before and I'll say it again. There are two types of people in this world: those that gear up for Halloween weeks beforehand, prepping realistic and extravagant costumes, and those who leave the costume planning to the last minute (or don't partake in the dress-up at all). I belong to the second category. While I love seeing the big and bold costumes other people wear, I personally prefer subtler ways of celebrating Halloween. Whether it's wearing my favorite striped socks (à la the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz), going a bit darker and more dramatic with my everyday makeup, or turning to festive Halloween nail designs.

As for the latter, the obvious place to look to for inspiration is Instagram. With so many expert nail artists 'gramming their work, the options are endless...I mean that literally, too. There are 371k images under the #HalloweenNails tag. Luckily for you, I've picked out the 15 best ones (at least in my humble opinion). Keep scrolling to see the best Halloween nail designs on Instagram, whether you're going for spooky-chic or pop culture-pertinent. 

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Mei Kawajiri is a celebrity nail artist and design extraordinaire. Her Instagram account is basically a treasure trove of nail inspiration. Take these crime scene tape nails, for instance. They're edgy, super detailed, and Halloween-chic. 

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Fake blood is to Halloween what fireworks are to the Fourth of July. This dripping manicure, which is also by Kawajiri, is the perfect amount of kitschy and classic.

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Remember how I said there would also be pop culture relevant designs peppered in with the classic spooky stuff? I wasn't kidding. Behold: Lisa Frank-inspired nails. Every '90s kid will look fondly on this ombre leopard design, courtesy of Kawajiri. Pair this mani with a matching scrunchie (and maybe a classic Lisa Frank school folder, if you can find one) and you have a complete costume. It's not bold or extravagant; it's subtle and nostalgic.

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I'm not quite done with the throwback ideas yet. For all your fruit-themed costume possibilities (modern day Strawberry Shortcake, perhaps?), look no further than Kawajiri's strawberry design. This manicure is perfect for crafting an easy no-costume costume...See what I did there? It's the Halloween version of no-makeup makeup.

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If Stranger Things was the Netflix show that broke the Internet in 2016, then To All The Boys I've Loved Before is its 2018 equivalent (albeit more teen rom-com, less supernatural thriller). Instead of going as Eleven again, go as Lara Jean Covey, with a hand-painted manicure like this one, by Kawajiri. It's cute, it's eye-catching, and it's incredibly relevant. To round out the nail design, bring a scrunchie and Peter Kavinsky to your Halloween party.

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There's never a bad time to channel your favorite music icon, though Halloween seems especially right. For the costume-averse, do that by creating rock/pop star nail art. Kawajiri shows everyone how it's done with these David Bowie-inspired nails. 

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These coffin-shaped nails give us dark, Victorian vibes. We imagine it's the exact manicure that Wednesday Addams would ask for once she struck out on her own and began a career in fashion. 

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Yasuda created this fiery nail design at Kenzo's Fall/Winter 2018 Men and Women show in Paris. If it's stylish enough for Paris Fashion Week, then it's definitely stylish enough for our Halloween festivities. 

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Did someone say Studio 54? Yasuda's silver holographic glitter design has us yearning to adopt a '70s disco-inspired attitude this Halloween (even if we're not down to wear bell bottoms and shag fur coats). 

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This chrome snake manicure by Yasuda is almost too good. It's all in the details. We can't stop staring at the shiny black lacquered base, the glinting silver ribbon of the snake's body, or the red eyes and tongue. 

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If you're looking for a festive Halloween manicure that also happens to be office appropriate, look no further. This stark black and white harlequin pattern, also by Yasuda, checks off both boxes.

More of a Rolling Stones fan? Take heed from Olive & June, the buzzy LA nail salon which posted this minimalist (yet surely Mick Jagger-approved) nail art to Instagram. 

Pop art isn't going to stop inspiring Halloween looks anytime soon. Bring those bold and vivid brights onto your nails with a design like this, which is also from Olive & June. It's modern and scene-y, just like a buzzy art installation. 

Alicia Torello is an editorial manicurist based in NYC. Her designs are colorful and varied, ranging from maximalist to minimalist in nature. These stitch nails belong to the latter category. They're chic, doll-like, and just a little bit off-kilter. In other words, they're perfect for Halloween. Do they remind anyone else of the movie Coraline

This manicure is simplicity at its best. Torello created the look for a Rodarte runway show using OPI products. More specifically, she used the Infinite Shine Polish in Raisin The Bar ($13) and We're In The Black ($13). It's darkly romantic. We're obsessed.

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