If you’re anything like us, you’ve been testing out the best fall nail trends for months now. But Halloween is a time to explore your creativity, especially when it comes to your manicure. That said, there tend to be a few usual suspects — spiders, skeletons, pumpkins — that aren’t always the most wearable outside of trick or treating. So for those of us who are looking for a spooky-season mani that’s less, well, on the nose, the options can be a bit more limited. (There are only so many times plain black nail polish does the trick.)
That’s why this year, we’re bringing you a Halloween nail art idea that leans a little more Practical Magic, and a little less Spirit Halloween. Best of all, the manicure won’t totally feel out of place come November 1. The exclusive look comes courtesy of celebrity nail artist Julie Kandalec, who is known for working with many of your favorite A-listers. Featuring a pearly base, bright orange French tips, and celestial details, this Halloween manicure is unexpected and eye-catching — but it doesn’t veer too far from the holiday’s roots. Ahead, find out just how Kandalec achieved the look, so you can conjure it up yourself this Halloween and beyond.
Meet the Experts
Julie Kandalec is a celebrity nail artist.
How to DIY a Harvest Moon Halloween Manicure
1. Prep with a base coat.
Applying a base polish is key to preventing any manicure from chipping prematurely. And when you’re putting in the extra work to add on nail art, this step becomes non-negotiable.
2. Layer on the sheer base.
Next, paint on a pearly, barely there polish as the foundation of your look (the shade Kandalec used is CND Vinylux Longwear Nail Polish in “Negligee”). Note: It’s important to let this polish dry completely before moving on to the next step so you don’t accidentally smudge your manicure.
3. Add on the French tips.
Now comes the first real challenge. If you have a steady hand with a brush, you can free-paint on the French tips. If not, don’t worry; try using a stencil such as hole-punch stickers. For the perfect Halloween orange, the nail pro used Lights Lacquer in “Coney Island,” but you can choose any color you like. We think it would look amazing with classic black tips, or even a deep purple for a witchy vibe.
4. Draw on the details.
The pièce de résistance of this mani is the star details — and they aren’t as hard to DIY as they look. “To get the stars crisp and balanced, first use a dotting tool to dot on just the centers of each star, and allow them to dry,” says Kandalec, who recommends picking up this inexpensive dotting tool from Amazon if you don’t have one handy. “After the dots have had some time to set, then you can use a tiny nail art brush dipped in nail polish to finish the rest of the stars.” Don’t rush this step: “Not letting the dots dry a bit first risks the center bleeding and not giving you the crispest design,” she says. You can also change up the design on each nail — think moons on some nails and stars on others, as seen in the photo.
For the black polish, Kandalec likes the Sally Hansen I Heart Nail Art Striper Nail Color, which comes with a super-thin brush to help with detail work. She also recommends this set of three nail-art brushes, which can be used with any polish you already have on hand.
5. Finish the French tips.
Use the same brush and polish from your night-sky design to draw a line of black polish at the bottom of each French tip. This adds a graphic touch to the look.
6. Let it all dry.
Get comfortable because, once again, the next — and most important — step is to let the polish dry completely.
7. Finish with a top coat.
Now that your nail art is complete, seal it with a shiny top coat such as Seche Vive Gel Effect Top Coat, ensuring it will last as long as possible.
There you have it! Your new favorite Halloween nail art look — no witchcraft necessary. In the meantime, follow Kandalec on Instagram @julieknailsnyc for more nail inspiration.
We only recommend products we have independently researched, tested, and loved. If you purchase a product found through our links, Sunday Edit may earn an affiliate commission.