We’ve done our best to keep it all together over the last year or so, but there’s no denying that our beauty routines sure have changed. For better or worse, we’ve been tasked with taking matters into our own hands when it comes to everything from chemical peels to hair colour. And while we’ve gotten pretty good at executing at-home gel manicures, too, we can’t help but think of how nice it could be to use this extra time away from prying eyes to give our nails some breathing room away from that perfect-looking but sometimes damaging cured lacquer.
Fun fact: A number of nail polish brands have upped the ante by improving on their traditional nail polish formulas to look, feel, and perform more like gel, without the need to cure it under a light. And, of course, if you panic-purchased an at-home gel nail kit last year, then you have even more gel nail polish options are available to choose from!
According to the calendar, we still have well over a month until autumn, but we’re already taking stock of the best new autumn gel nail colours we’re most excited to wear. Ahead, check out the 8 shades we’re pre-emptively swooning over, whether gel or gel-adjacent. Scroll for the mood board and shop the ones that speak to you most.
1. Midnight Black
Glossy black nails are totally timeless, but there’s something about a deep onyx mani that feels wonderfully autumnal. But if it still feels a little too soon to be thinking about taking such a turn to the dark side then negative space nail-art is a brilliant way to experiment with trending colours as we transition from summer to autumn.
Nails Inc’s bestselling Gel Effect formulations give the same smooth coverage and high-shine finish that you can expect from a professional gel mani, but with no fancy UV lamps required.
This affordable gel-effect nail polish from Barry M is one of my favourites.
2. Matcha Green
This neutralised seafoam shade is an absolute dream. It totally functions like a burst of colour without being over-the-top bright.
This two-step gel system by Essie doesn’t require a curing light but still imparts shiny, chip-resistant manicures that last for days. This soft-green colour is already bubbling up amongst the fashion set, and we expect to see even more of it come autumn.
3. Tawny Red
This gorgeous and complex red calls in hints of brown, orange, and even yellow—all the shades that comprise the ultimate fall color palette. It’s the perfect hue to channel the changing leaves.
Orly’s Desert Muse Collection is just what we needed to get in a autumn manicure mood, and we’re especially loving this earthy scarlet hue. It’s offered in the professional-grade gel formula for long-lasting gel manicures, but if you’re not set up with a Orly LED Smart Lamp (£80), then you can enjoy the same exact shade in the brand’s traditional polish formula.
Tone down the bright whites you’ve been wearing all summer with this classic soft ivory. Go for an opaque finish by adding more coats or hang back with a barely there, sheer finish. The choice is yours.
This gel-effect duo is all you need for a long-lasting gel manicure—no curing light required. Layer on three coats of Birthday Suit for a bold, full-coverage look or just swipe on one coat for a more natural finish. Either way, you’ll get a shiny, ivory manicure that looks just like gel.
5. Shades of Grey
From light grey that looks like wet cement to mid-toned grey reminiscent of a cloudy sky, there’s something for everyone is this autumn-appropriate colour family. We’ll be bopping up and down this spectrum all season.
In case you needed more evidence that this polish colour is majorly trending, just check out this collab between nail savant Deborah Lippmann and fashion designer Jason Wu. It’s the perfect cloudy day grey and beyond that, it comes in the tried-and-true, dual-patented formula made to perform just like cured gel.
6. Warm Chestnut
If you find yourself reaching for lattes as the weather cools down in the fall, then you might notice the similarity between that frothy drink and this nail colour. It’s slightly warmer than your average beige, but just a shade or two too light to be considered brown.
This perfect shade sits right at the intersection of deep beige and light brown. It’s the perfect elevated neutral that looks slightly different, yet totally complimentary on a wide range of skin tones. A quick hit of Chanel’s Le Gel Coat on top, and it’ll stay shiny and in tact for days.
Think of this shade as a wheaten-leaning yellow that’s a lot less in your face than your typical summertime canary. It’s more of a muted yellow, if you will.
Who says you have to leave yellow nails behind once autumn hits? Combine it with the base and top coats from OPI’s L line, and the glass-like glow and lasting power will make you reconsider ever visiting a nail salon again.
8. Metal and Chrome
If you’ve been waiting for a little flash, you found it. Get your Tin Man on with shiny metallic shades and gleaming chrome hues that will add some extra energy to your manicure. Try everything from shimmering silver polishes to bronzy rose golds.
Revlon’s answer to the salon-quality manicure at home is its Gel Envy polish, which binds to your nails without even using a base coat. Create the chrome manicure of your dreams without having to cure it under an LED light. Just seal with the Diamond Top Coat and you’re ready to go.
This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated.
Up next, these are the only 2021 nail trends you need to know.