Getting your nails done are as much a part of pre-Chinese New Year prep as spring cleaning or buying new clothes. Google “Chinese New Year nail art” and you’re probably going to be engulfed in a sea of fortune cat appliqués and miniature calligraphed characters, and a whole lot of red.

Tradition does decree that red is the luckiest colour for the lunar new year, but it doesn’t have to govern your nail art choices. We’ve picked out a number of trendy manicures from Instagram that are Chinese New Year-appropriate, of which includes different ways to wear red on your nails (if you really must). Some are really easy to DIY, so feel free to get inspired.


Negative space nails are an easy way to keep your manicures interesting with little fiddling. Just apply a base coat, cut some tape, and paste them on the areas where you don’t need polish. Fill up the rest with your colours of choice, and you’ve got a unique mani to go.

Photo: @nail_unistella


Why go all glossy red, when you can have a stripe of matte in the middle? All you need is a bit of tape to block out the glossy areas, and paint matte top coat in the middle for the two-dimensional effect.

Photo: @nataliepavloskinails


Rose gold has been a major player in nail art lately, and this manicurist pairs graphic rose gold designs with nude and burgundy bases, giving the manicure a trendy, feminine flair.

Photo: @cassmariebeauty


Metallic tipped nails are the new update on the dated French manicure. If you’re not a fan of gold, try rose gold or silver instead.

Photo: @aliciatnails


Cherry blossoms on red or pink are a standard Chinese New Year manicure. Keep it trendy by swapping out the gaudy base for something a little more subtle and blush-toned, like this coral nude.

Photo: @agildedleaf


Unless you’re at expert level, this manicure might be best left to a professional. A clear base gets jazzed up with multi-coloured metal foils, making it look like abstract paint splatters.

Photo: Luxury Nails


There’s something extremely pleasing about geometric manicures, but this is a pretty interesting adaptation. You either need a really steady hand, or a pre-made stencil some red polish (or any colour you desire), and a matte top coat.

Photo: Nail Allie 


Half-moon manicures have been a big hit in 2016, but keep it fresh by making it a triangular nail base. You can even make it three toned for a 60’s mod edge.

Photo: @kikomilano

Beatrice Bowers
Features Editor
Beatrice Bowers writes about beauty, drinks, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she moonlights as a Niffler for novels and can be found en route to bankruptcy at your nearest bookstore. Don't tell her boss.