There’s something inherently campy about Valentine’s Day nail art. Sure, a few years back, it may have bordered on cheesy, but in 2023, the best Valentine’s Day nail art isn’t just trendy — it’s sophisticated.
“This Valentine’s Day, anything goes,” says Olivia Van Iderstine, Olive & June mani trend expert and vice president of content and creative. “We’re loving a totally over-the-top, super-lovey-dovey look with all the hearts. Red and pink are the go-to color combo for a reason, so don’t be afraid to wear both at the same time.”
Whether you’re looking for something subtle and minimalist or you’re hoping for your manicure to take center stage, there are tons of options to get a fun, festive manicure. We talked to the experts about the nail art looks they’re most excited about, plus all the tools to get the exact look. Ahead, find the best V-Day nail trends that’ll be everywhere come Feb. 14. Bookmark them now to bring to your next manicure appointment — or try at home.
For beginners: Negative space hearts
Not into reds and pinks? NYC-based nail artist Kesang Gurung knows a thing or two about making gel nail art accessible for the minimalist, too. To get this festive black-and-white gel style at home, Gurung says it takes a steady hand, a good gel polish (she prefers CND) and a great detail brush.
First, using a small detail brush to get the thickness of the French manicure where you want it, cure the polish. Then, Gurung says she uses a dotting tool for the little hearts. First, pour out some white and black gel nail polish onto a small piece of tin foil. “Then, I dip the tool in the polish and make a dot, slide it to make a horizontal line to the right,” she says. “Then I make another dot parallel to the first one and slide horizontally to the left to connect them in a V formation. After that, I use a thin liner or filler thin filler brush to fill in the heart.” Cure it before adding your top coat. (You can get the look with regular polish, too, but be mindful of letting each coat dry completely before going in with a new one.)
This nail art set has various brush and dotting sizes, so you have the ultimate control over your polish.
Gurung recommends the CND Gel LED light to cure your manicures. This set comes with a gel base and top coat, as well as two shades of gel polish. The white Cream Puff color is perfect for this look.
For the black details, opt for this opaque gel shade.
For at-home pros: Romantic roses
Looking for something a little more detailed? Manicurist Tammy Taylor is known for her long and intricate, picturesque nails, and this rosy gel style is no different. Be warned, though: This style was done freehand, so you’ll need a little innate talent (or an artistic friend with a steady hand) to get the look at home. Follow along the process with this video and the steps outlined ahead.
On a fresh set of nail extensions, Taylor starts by applying alternating base colors using the Princess Valentine Gelegance Gel Polish Collection over The Weekenders Nail Extensions in XXL Square, and curing it. Then, she draws the shape of the roses using Roses are Mauve Gel Polish and Bold Striper Brush, and cures it again.
“Then, outline your roses with Ferosh Black Gel Polish and Bold Striper Brush, cure it, and blend out Ferosh Black Gel Polish using the Detail Brush, and cure it again,” she explains.
To get the details of the petals, Taylor first uses Forever Rose Gel Polish and cures it before adding highlights with French White Chocolate Gel Polish mixed with Roses are Mauve Gel Polish. She blends this in with the Detail Brush and cures it again. Finishing the look, Taylor says, “Add your leaves with [white polish], cure it and clean up any imperfections using the 3D Brush and Clean-It.” She seals the look by applying and curing a layer of the Glass Slipper top coat, and massages in some cuticle oil to keep things shiny and healthy.
Available in three lengths, these nail extensions don't require a light for application, making them a great option for beginners.
Featuring three rosy shades — Berry Rose, Roses are Mauve and Forever Rose — this gel polish trio is perfect for a progressive French manicure or advanced V-Day nail art.
To add detailing to the rose nail art, Taylor uses her Gelegance Gel Polish in Ferosh Black and French White Chocolate.
The Clean-It Kit helps keep nails, brushes and surfaces clear. After curing your gel polish, use a towelette saturated with the solution to take away any tacky feeling and make nails extra shiny.
Make your manicure last with Taylor's gel top coat. Reviewers rave that it keeps nails shiny and strong for weeks.
For anyone: V-Day stickers
Want fun, intricate nail art at home but don’t have a steady hand? There’s a fix for that. “Nail art stickers are the easiest way to get perfect nail art in seconds,” says Van Iderstine, who says her best tip is to apply them to 100% dry nails. “We like sticking them on 24 hours after painting,” she says. “Simply peel, stick and apply a top coat to seal them in. If you don’t love the first placement, you can gently peel them and re-stick before you apply the top coat.”
If you’re in need of a bit of practice, “give your design a few tries on a piece of scratch paper before you apply to your nails,” she says. She loves the idea of mixing pink nail stickers with a red manicure — or vice versa.
Experts and beginners alike can appreciate these easy-to-apply nail art stickers.
"Our Nail Art Pens are as easy as drawing with a marker!" says Van Iderstine. They feature a double-sided applicator so you can have the most control over your nail art. Try some multi-colored hearts or a groovy French set.
You'll always want to remember a top coat to make sure your design stays intact.
For an instant mani: Festive press-ons
If nail stickers are still a little too time-consuming for you, you’re in luck. There’s an even easier way to get an at-home manicure in seconds. “I think a lot of people who are not huge nail art loyalists find joy in being a little festive through press-ons,” says Cyndi Ramirez, founder of NYC nail salon and spa Chillhouse. “It takes the edge off of having to cipher through Pinterest or Instagram for inspo and then getting frustrated at the nail salon because they don’t come out how you’d expect. Plus they’re more affordable and you can pretty much guarantee they’ll look great on you!”
One of Chillhouse’s top styles for the holiday is this vaguely Valentine’s Day-themed red-and-white checkered style. They’re not overly festive but allow a nice allusion to the holiday. To get the look, Ramirez says to wash your hands and “buff the nail bed slightly so the glue adheres better. Then, apply glue to both nail beds and press on: the key here is to not have a heavy hand! Press down for 20-30 seconds each nail,” she says.
To safely remove them, soak your hands in soapy water with olive oil.
These red and white press-ons come with all the tools you'll need to apply them for a long-lasting Valentine's Day look without a trip to the salon.
“We've also had a lot of people use On the Mend, our two-step nail repair kit, as a nail masque to remove the tips and it's working really nicely," Ramirez shares.
For short nails: Chocolate chrome details
Another twist on the Valentine’s day manicure is some ’90s-inspired nail art. These edgy designs are perfect for short nails since they can fit on any size nail bed, but you’ll just need some patience and a precise hand to execute them.
Plus, the chocolate chrome is a fun nod to the holiday’s sweet treats. “Chocolate brown is always my go-to Valentine’s Day color,” says Van Iderstine. “Who doesn’t want chocolate on V-Day? It’s sweet and a little moody, perfect for a winter February mani that doesn’t feel too dreary.”
You can get the look using gel polish and chrome powder, or opt for metallic polish on a traditional manicure.
This burgundy shade has cocoa undertones for the perfect base for your Valentine's day chocolate design.
Rub this coppery chrome powder over your gel design to give it that metallic effect.
Alternatively, if you're working with traditional polish, OPI's Bring Out The Big Gems shimmery paint features similar red-brown hues.