There are three types of people in this world: those who gear up for Halloween weeks beforehand, prepping realistic and extravagant costumes, those who leave the planning to the last minute, and those don't partake in dress-up at all. As fun as big and bold costumes are, there are also subtler ways of celebrating Halloween, whether it's going a bit darker and more dramatic with your everyday makeup or turning to festive Halloween at-home manicures.
As for the latter, the obvious place to look for inspiration is Instagram. With so many amateur and expert nail artists sharing their work, the options are endless (we mean that literally, too). Luckily for you, we've picked out the 39 most eye-catching ideas.
From minimalist webs to maximalist mermaid scales—and everything in between—keep scrolling to find a Halloween mani you'll be stoked to wear come October 31.
Nothing screams Halloween like candy. These candy corn nails are a tasteful take on All Hallows' Eve and only require a couple of shades of orange polish and a steady hand to replicate.
Negative Space Webs
Universally accepted as a symbol of Halloween, spider webs have been a go-to design for the most novice of nail artists. This subtle take on the pattern, (which features an on-trend ombré of purples) can work with any office setting or costume. Plus, all you need to bring it to life is a toothpick and the polish of your choice.
Fake blood is to Halloween what fireworks are to the Fourth of July. This dripping manicure is the perfect amount of kitschy and classic. To DIY, use a toothpick with a hefty drop of polish on the end. Dollop it on your nail and lightly draw it towards the cuticle to create the drip appearance.
We love a good throwback idea. For all your '80s-themed costume needs, look no further than this abstract design by Miss Pop Nails. The manicure is perfect for crafting an easy no-costume costume, which is the Halloween version of no-makeup makeup.
Halloween is the perfect time to throw it back to your favorite retro era. Still keeping with the '80s but with a more subtle finish, this negative space mani with delicate pops of color is the ultimate inspiration.
It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think Halloween (unless you're a Hocus Pocus fanatic), but these black flame nails give off a scary vibe. We love the almond-shaped style and how the curves mimic those of the flames. To craft your flames, use a toothpick or polish pen to outline your flame and then gently fill it in.
Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
Feeling spooky but cute? This Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) design is worth considering. The sugar skull-inspired design will require a steady hand, so you may want to book an appointment for this screenshot-worthy nail look.
This Gucci-inspired snake manicure by Hang Nguyen is almost too good. It's all in the details. We can't stop staring at the shiny translucent lacquered base, the glinting red ribbon of the snake's body, or the itty-bitty split tongue.
Dripping Black Talons
If you're looking for a festive Halloween manicure that makes you feel like the chicest vampire, look no further. This glossy nail design has red blood dripping from the tips, and if you look closely, the black base actually has a drip effect, too.
Pop art isn't going to stop inspiring Halloween looks anytime soon. To bring the style's bold and vivid brights onto your nails, cop this look from nail artist Narina Chan. It's modern and scene-y, just like a buzzy art installation.
Alicia Torello is an editorial manicurist based in NYC, and her designs are colorful and varied, ranging from maximalist to minimalist in nature. These easy-to-recreate 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 a low-key Halloween. Do they remind anyone else of the movie Coraline?
This manicure is simplicity at its best. To recreate the look, grab your favorite red nail polish to create the thin blood-red base and finish off by painting tips black. It's darkly romantic, and we're nothing short of obsessed.
The clean lines paired with black and white tones make this nail design just witchy enough. Nail artist Elizabeth Garcia created this manicure look, leaving us questioning how she ever got those lines so straight and perfect. Our guess is nail striping tape, like China Glaze's Stripe 'Em Striping Tape ($10).
Celebrity nail artist Mei Kawajiri (AKA @nailsbymei) created this nail look, and it's seriously winning our hippie hearts over. With a '70s beauty vibe that shows off a retro color scheme, this mani transports us right to a groovy music festival.
These detailed mermaid-themed nails are seriously impressive, with amazingly intricate scales to boot. Created by manicurist Sarah Thompson of Chalkboard Nails, this design is sending our imagination under the sea. To DIY, try using scale sticker stencils, like these from Etsy.
Feeling a little out of sync this Halloween? It could be because of the phases of the moon. Reminiscent of a werewolf, this artistic creation is truly genius, and Halloween color-appropriate, might we add.
If you can't decide what to be for Halloween, let this easy-to-recreate nail art idea be your guide—the simple red ombré (which can be created with a sponge and layered polish) gives off serious vampire and evil witch vibes. What's more, the strategically placed crystals only add to the drama of the simple nail look.
Betina Goldstein is giving us the simple nail look of our dreams, with gold and amber floral accents. The combination is another that creates the image of sugar skulls in our minds. It is perfect for any setting, and the fall-inspired colors are just what we need for the upcoming season. Plus, it's easier to create than her other skull creation, as, when you look closely, it's just lines and dots.
Leopard print gets a Halloween makeover with bold and bright colors. Although they might look complex at first glance, all you really need to land this design is a toothpick and your polishes of choice. And in case you mess up a bit, that's okay—each spot is unique, after all.
These beaded nails serve as a reminder that even the most beauty-heavy holidays can still be chic. Channel your inner socialite with this mani that gives off major Chanel vibes.
This abstract marble effect reminds us of the fall foliage that is sure to be covering the sidewalks this Halloween. The mirror-like shine captures your attention and adds to the beauty of the overall look. Your friends will ask how you managed to conjure up this design.
Coming Up Daisies
Japanese nail artist Shigeko Taylor, who has worked with the likes of Camila Cabello and Solange, created the perfect floral manicure for anyone who loves daisies. A '90s throwback to the most popular flower found on every dress and strappy tank top, these cute yellow and white daisies are perfect for medium-length nails—and they're easy to DIY.
If you're looking to Halloweenify your French mani, throw in some stitch details. A couple of heart-fanged accent nails will strike the right balance of scary meets sweet.
Keep it simple with these constellation nails painted against a black sky—how Halloween-appropriate. Try Smith & Cult's Nail Polish in Dirty Baby ($18) to get the perfect mix of darkness tinged with celestial shimmer. Personalize it by tracing your own astrological constellation.
I Love the '90s
Halloween doesn't have to be all gloom and doom—just look at these neon nails as proof. Leopard-print tips paired with colorful bold stripes have us feeling nostalgic for the '90s. If there ever were a Cross Colours mani, this would be it.
These tiny spiders and starry skies are out of this world. They're a perfect seasonal pick for Halloween—and lucky for us, they only require a toothpick, nail polish, and a few gemstones to bring them to life.
Speaking of spiders, if you want to take it to a whole new creepy level, copy this negative space manicure that looks like actual spiders crawling over your nails. They're a bit more intricate, but still doable. Just be sure to have a bottle of acetone nearby for touch-ups.
This mystical, metallic manicure resembles a magic potion that could very well keep us in eternal youth forever. (They'll also keep you in a nail salon for around an hour to bring them to life.) And with black, purple, and holographic witchy siren vibes, who knows what kind of magic you'll find yourself stirring up.
For the Angels
If an angel costume is more your speed, this sparkly, glammed-up look is for you. It's far less complicated than it seems: All you need is a sparkle-infused nail polish and one hand to paint it on. Bonus points for the clear base color to keep things mess-free. Luckily, Jinsoon makes the perfect shade—Absolute Glitz ($18).
If you're musically inclined, dress up like David Bowie himself and offer up a Ziggy Stardust–inspired manicure. Again, just two shades are needed (and you can spell out whatever lyric you love most).
Try a throwback mani this Halloween, with a nod to one of the quirkiest spooky flicks in ages: Beetlejuice.
You're a Cat, Duh
Dress up the usual all-black feline manicure with a spotted leopard look. It takes no time at all after picking up black, brown, and beige polish at your local drugstore.
This ultra whimsical nail look compliments the sparkliest of wings for a modern fairy design. Adorned in shimmering crystals, you'll be as bejeweled as Tinkerbell with her pixie dust in Neverland.
A Spooky Bit of Sparkle
If you're not into a full Halloween getup this year, go for a sparkly glitter-dipped manicure for a still seasonally appropriate look. This DIY take includes full-on edgy glitter for a fun design.
A Black Cat Is Essential
Black cats are a Halloween essential, so why not paint a few on your nails for good measure?
The Disney Fanatic
Mix and match Minnie and Mickey's signature looks for a cheerful and Disney-inspired addition to your Halloween costume. Bonus points if you wear Mickey's iconic shorts and yellow shoes.
The Halloween Minimalist
Skeletons and the undead alike will love this minimalist nail art manicure. It uses only two shades (Jinsoon's Absolute White and Polka Black, $18 each), one brush, and a little bit of smudging. Halloween nails in just three steps—voilà!
Instead of an intricate, painstakingly detailed manicure, opt for glossy black paint and a few nail adhesives, like the stars pictured here. It'll add to your witch costume, albeit subtly, but it's also chic for the week post-holiday. See? We're saving you time and money.
What is Halloween without ghosts? This manicure blends together the spooky design with classic French tips.