13 Halloween-Inspired Manicure Ideas

With Halloween creeping up (pun intended) around the corner, we’re ready to get into the spooky spirit! While wearing an actual costume is only socially acceptable on the actual day of October 31st, giving yourself a Halloween-inspired manicure is an easy way to celebrate early without looking ridiculous. Here are a bunch of ideas for your Halloween manicure for every nail-art skill level. And don’t worry; they aren’t the typical yellow, white and orange stripes (candy corn nails… groundbreaking).

Tip: Use a base coat for all of these designs so you don’t stain your nails. Also, always use a top coat to seal in your pretty designs and make them chip-resistant for a longer period of time.

1. Plain orange

For the busy girl: one color, no fancy designs, and no hassle.

Level of difficulty: Easy

What you’ll need:

Instructions:

Just apply two coats of the orange polish to your fingers for a quick mani. If you want to make the color of the orange really pop, start by adding a single coat of white nail polish and let it dry before applying the orange. The white base coat acts as a real “blank canvas” for the orange, so the color comes out truer to the color it is in the bottle. Even if you used your only free 15 minutes of the week to do this, you’ll be super happy whenever you look down at your bright orange nails!

2. Faux claws

For the girl who wants to be fierce every day.

Level of difficulty: Easy

What you’ll need:

Instructions:

  • Put on one coat of the tan nail polish, making sure to keep this layer smooth and even.
  • Once the tan is 100 percent dry, tape off the end of your nails with two pieces of Scotch tape.
  • Place the tape diagonally to form a point that meets at the very tip of your nail, and smooth out any bumps or air bubbles.
  • Apply two coats of the black nail polish onto the uncovered parts of your nails, being careful to not let any color get underneath the tape.
  • When the black is dry, slowly peel back the tape, making sure to not pull off any color from your nails.
  • Your cat will have a new level of respect for you after seeing your “claws.”

3. Orange French

For the subtle Halloween enthusiast. 

Level of difficulty: Easy

What you’ll need:

Instructions:

  • Place a piece of tape on each of your nails, leaving a small space at the tips for the orange polish.
  • The top edge of the tape should be where you want the orange to end.
  • Make sure the tape is smoothed down completely before you paint your tips, and then paint the space above the tape with the orange nail polish.
  • Once the orange has dried, carefully remove the tape and apply a thin coat of the sheer polish to your entire nail.
  • You don’t want to alter the color of your tips too much with this color; that’s why you’ll want to use a thin coat here as opposed to a thicker one.
  • Never has your subtle enthusiasm for a holiday looked so good!

4. Ghosts 

For all of us who watch Ghost Hunters and swear it’s not staged.

Level of difficulty: Medium

What you’ll need:

  • White nail polish
  • Black nail polish
  • A toothpick

Instructions:

  • Apply two coats of white nail polish and let it dry completely.
  • Dip your toothpick in the bottle of black nail polish about a centimeter deep, just enough to get some color (but not so much that it’ll be dripping everywhere).
  • Make two dots toward the bottom of your nails for the ghost’s eyes.
  • For the ghost’s mouth, make six or seven dots really close together.
  • Lightly run the toothpick over the mouth dots to blend them together and create one large blob.
  • The next time someone says ghosts aren’t real, just flash them your cute manicure.

5. Spooky Eyes

For those girls who enjoy people watching out of their dorm-room window or Facebook stalking.

Level of difficulty: Medium

What you’ll need:

  • Black nail polish
  • White nail polish
  • 2 toothpicks

Instructions:

  • Paint your nails with two coats of the black polish and let them dry fully.
  • Take one of the toothpicks and dip it in the white polish.
  • Make two medium-sized dots on your nail for the eyes, and let those dry completely as well.
  • Once the white is dry, dip the second toothpick in the black and make small dots inside the larger white dots for pupils.
  • Now you won’t have to feel so alone when you’re two years deep into someone’s Facebook profile at 3 a.m.

6. Stitched French

For the classic girl with a little bit of an edgy side.

Level of difficulty: Medium

What you’ll need:

  • Orange nail polish
  • Sheer pink or nude nail polish
  • Black nail polish
  • Scotch tape
  • A toothpick

Instructions:

  • Follow the instructions for the Orange French (see number three on this list).
  • Wait until the sheer polish is dry before painting on the stiches.
  • Get some of the black nail polish on the end of your toothpick and draw a line horizontally across the bottom of the orange tip.
  • Add five or six smaller lines perpendicular to that one to create the look of stitches.
  • Everyone from the classic prepsters to the trendy hipsters will be staring at your mani.

7. Blood Drips

For the girls who have always been, and will always be, Team Edward (or for those who can't decide which Salvatore brother is hotter). 

Level of difficulty: Medium

What you’ll need:

Instructions:

  • Paint all your nails with the red polish except for your ring fingers.
  • On your ring fingers, start the design by painting red around your cuticles.
  • If you get nail polish all over your fingers during this step (we’ve all been there), you can go back later with a cotton swab and some nail polish remover.
  • While the red by your cuticles is still wet, take your toothpick dipped in the polish and make 3 dots at various heights across your nail.
  • Going back in with more of the red nail polish on the toothpick, make squiggly lines from the dots to the red base.
  • While this is still pretty wet, take some more red polish on your toothpick and make the lines that connect your dots to the base look more gradual by making them thicker by the bottom and thinning out at the top.
  • You want to make all alterations to your design while the nail polish is still wet to make it easier to blend together and look more uniform.
  • Edward Cullen would definitely approve.

8. Candy Buttons

 
For the girl who wants to have her candy but maybe not eat it, too.

Level of difficulty: Medium

What you’ll need:

Instructions:

  • Paint all of your nails white to start off and let them dry completely before starting the design.
  • Take a toothpick with some turquoise nail polish on it and make two rows of dots going across your nail.
  • You can do this diagonally (like in the picture) or going horizontally across your nails—whichever one you like better!
  • Next, take the yellow nail polish and a fresh toothpick and do the same thing. Follow this with the pink nail polish.
  • The tricky part about this design is trying to get all the dots to be the same size and also making sure that they are evenly spaced and going in straight lines.
  • If the lines start going crooked or the dots are all different sizes, you could lose the look of candy buttons and start moving towards the direction of just regular ole polka dots.

9. Skeletons 

For all of us who went through that phase in middle school when we were obsessed with Hot Topic and boys in skinny jeans.

Level of difficulty: Hard

What you’ll need:

  • White nail polish
  • Black nail polish
  • A toothpick

Instructions:

  • Start off by painting all your nails white and letting them dry.
  • For the actual skull face, begin by making the eyes.
  • Get some black nail polish on the toothpick and make two medium-sized dots about a third of the way up from the bottom.
  • These dots should be close to the sides of your nails (make sure there is enough room in between them for the nose dots).
  • For the nose, make two small black dots in between the eyes, but a little higher up.
  • For the mouth of the skull, start by making a black line about from the middle of the top of your nail about a third of the way down.
  • Make two mirroring lines on either side of the initial line.
  • Finally, to define the shape of the skull’s chin, make a triangle on either side of the black lines you just made.
  • These triangles should start at the bottom of your nail and go about as far down as the three black lines.
  • After the triangles are drawn in, make the inside edge of it a little curved, so it mimics the shape of a face instead of just having straight lines.
  • Middle-school you would be raving over your mani if she could see it.

10. Nontraditional candy corn

For the girl who read the first paragraph of this article and was sad to see that the striped candy-corn nail would be missing.

Level of difficulty: Hard

What you’ll need:

  • White nail polish
  • Yellow nail polish
  • Orange nail polish
  • Scotch tape
  • A toothpick

Instructions:

  • Paint your nails white and let them dry all the way.
  • Using the Scotch tape, tape off about two-thirds of the way up your nails.
  • Below the tape, paint your nails with the yellow nail polish.
  • Make sure there are no air bubbles under the tape before doing this.
  • Once the yellow has dried, carefully remove the tape.
  • Using your toothpick, make a lot of small dots that are concentrated where the white and yellow polish meet.
  • Continue making small dots up and down your nail, letting their saturation fade as they get further from the white/yellow division line.
  • See? How much cuter is this than three boring stripes?

11. Glittery Black French

Perfect for the glitzy Halloween partygoer.

Level of difficulty: Hard

What you’ll need:

  • Black nail polish
  • Sheer pink or nude nail polish
  • Orange glitter nail polish
  • Scotch tape

Instructions:

  • Follow the instructions for the Orange French (number three on this list), except instead of using orange nail polish, use black.
  • Once your French has dried, you can begin to add the glitter.
  • To paint the top of your nails, don’t wipe the excess off the brush on the inside of the bottle.
  • Take the polish-covered brush, turn it so it’s on its side and dab on the glitter over the black on your tips.
  • Repeat this as many times you want to, depending on how thick you want the glitter.
  • Go down the rest of your nail with the glitter, dabbing like you did for the top.
  • Make sure to fade out the amount of glitter you’re applying to create an ombré effect.
  • Don’t be surprised when people at your Halloween party are paying more attention to your nails than to your costume.

12. Jack-o’-Lanterns

For the girl who loves the real thing but hates the pumpkin guts.

Level of difficulty: Hard

What you’ll need:

Instructions:

  • Paint your nails with two coats of the orange nail polish.
  • On top of the orange, add one coat of the glitter nail polish to give the jack-o’-lanterns some depth.
  • With the toothpick and black nail polish, carefully draw little faces onto your nails.
  • You can look online for some inspiration if you’re having a hard time deciding what types of faces to draw.
  • You don’t have to limit yourself to the traditional jack-o’-lantern faces; people get crazy when they carve their pumpkins, so why not go a little crazy with your nails as well?
  • When you’re done, you’ll have 10 little jack-o’-lanterns with you wherever you go!

13. Spiders

For girls who are deathly afraid of spiders, have no fear! These spiders are too cute to be afraid of.

Level of difficulty: Hard

What you’ll need:

  • Orange nail polish
  • Black nail polish
  • White nail polish
  • 2 toothpicks

Instructions:

  • Start off by painting all of your nails orange and allowing them to dry.
  • Next, go in with some black nail polish on your toothpick and make medium-sized dots in the middle of each of your nails to make the bodies of the spiders.
  • Add little L shapes to either side of the bodies for legs and one straight line connecting the body to the top of your nail by the cuticle for a web.
  • Allow the black polish to dry.
  • Go in next with the white nail polish on a new toothpick and make five dots on each of your nails: three on the orange part of your nail for background decoration, and two toward the tops of the spider bodies for eyes.
  • Once the white polish has dried, make two small black dots in the centers of the two white eye dots to add more detail to the eyes and to make the spiders look super cute and friendly.
  • You might even forget about your fear of spiders because of how harmless the ones on your nails look.

 
Just because you can’t wear a costume in the weeks leading up to Halloween doesn’t mean you can’t get into the spirit of the holiday! Giving yourself a manicure with some fun nail art is a great way to add some festiveness to your everyday look. Get excited about the trick-or-treating, the haunted hayrides, the pumpkin carving, the costume shopping and other fabulously fun Halloween activities!