Got lots of red nail polish left over from the holiday season? Good news: Valentine’s Day gives you an excellent excuse to use it again. The color is classic year-round, of course, but with love in the air and hearts serving as the main symbol of the mushiest day of the year, red has become the all but official color of Valentine’s Day and, thus, a solid choice for celebrating via manicure.
Of course, when we say it’s a solid choice, that doesn’t mean you have to stick to a solid shade when you do your nails for Valentine’s Day. Work that red into heart shapes or French tips; and while you’re at it, incorporate a few other romance-related colors, like pinks and even black. There are so many cute, clever, lovey-dovey nail-art ideas out there — some easy enough to DIY, and others you’ll probably want to take to your favorite nail pro.
We’ve rounded up some of the sweetest Valentine’s Day manicure ideas out there to inspire you to wear your heart on your nails. Keep scrolling to fall in love with some adorable nail art.
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Shiny and Matte Mix
Although red or pink nails may be predictable on Valentine’s Day, nail artist Nikoleta Szalak used some unexpected combinations to create a super-cute manicure. She used Indigo Nails’ Mineral Base in Natural for the pale, matte pink nails, and the same brand’s gel polish in the shade Fireman for the glossy red nails, as well as the adorable little hearts at the cuticles.
Brooklyn’s Claw Mafia created this flirty manicure by painting the long, squared-off nails with The Gel Bottle’s peachy-pink BIAB 20 and adding cute little lips on four of the nails with Nailed by Becky White Liner Gel and Young Nails’ hot pink Mega Jam.
Pointy nails practically beg for this clever idea: Instead of a simple red twist on a French manicure, use the shape of the tips to create hearts. Nail artist Alyson Rodriguez Orenstein used CND Shellac in Be Demure for the pink base and the same formula in Rose Brocade for the red hearts.
Two-Tone Heart Tips
Who says your heart-shaped tips have to be red? Nail artist Courtney Wetmore did a glossy version of this twist on the French manicure with one red-tipped hand, using Essie’s shade Hiking Heels, and one black-tipped hand, using Essie’s classic black Licorice.
A Little Love for Baby Yoda
Brooklyn-based nail artist Savannah Walker of Manifest Nail took her heart-shaped tips a step further — OK, a lot of steps further — with this elaborate ode to her favorite little dude, The Child. In addition to swirly red hearts with gold-beaded borders, she painted a perfect portrait of Baby Yoda (holding a Valentine, because why not?) on her thumb.
Red and Pink Ombré
Walker isn’t opposed to slightly simpler Valentine’s Day nail ideas. Here, she gave a client a gorgeous gradient manicure, starting red-hot at the cuticles and fading to a bright pink on the ends of the long, oval-shaped nails.
Real candy hearts have been having a rough couple of years. Due to bankruptcy filings, there was a shortage in 2019, and this year, more than half of the candies on shelves will be blank. But your nail art tribute to them can say anything you want them to say. Nail artist Devan Asbury went with the classic messages for her pretty, pastel interpretation, but there are no limits (except for space, of course).
These long, glossy nails by nail artist Ashley Hughes are given extra shine with Swarovski crystals. But instead of crafting a heart on just one nail, she brought the shape together on two nails — an unexpected and incredibly pretty twist.
This manicure is an amazing throwback to one of the 1990s’ most iconic cartoon crushes: Helga’s love for Hey Arnold’s titular character. Super-talented Tampa-based nail artist Devin Strebler interrupts the glowing, matte, pink ombré base with a negative-space heart, as well as spot-on illustrations of Helga admiring a photo of Arnold.
A Hint of Blue
Mix up the traditional reds and pinks of the holiday with a splash of another shade. Nail artist Sarah Thompson kept it classic on these shorter nails with a pink base and little red hearts, but she threw in a little light blue at the cuticles for a cute color-blocked effect.
Both cutesy and a little goth, this manicure by nail artist Mary Wood celebrates Valentine’s Day with a little more subtlety. She used The Gel Bottle’s Mallow, sealed in with a matte top coat, for the creamy base, and she hand-painted the tiny hearts with black Presto Bambina gel liner.
Shimmer and Stickers
Afraid you can’t hand-draw a perfect little heart? No problem. This manicure by nail artist Diana Nguyen proves you can get creative with stickers. She used a beautiful, shimmery, pale-pink base — Bio Seaweed Gel’s Pearl — and topped a few fingers off with different-sized red, metallic heart stickers. Just seal it with a clear top coat to help it last well past the holiday.
Can’t decide between classic symbols of Valentine’s Day? This adorable set features several themes — a creamy, pale pink on two nails, as well as hearts in a soft red shade and a black “XO” on a white base.