Plus, six examples to bring to the salon and the easiest at-home hack.
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Try as we might, it’s hard to stray from our old habits, and that goes as much for the nail salon as the drive-thru window at Chick-fil-A. We’re a sucker for a sweet pastel in spring, a coral red in the summertime, a cool olive green come autumn, and a vampy burgundy red in the cold months. So what does a gal do when she wants to stick with her go-to nail colors but feel like she’s still got her finger on the pulse? Venture into the world of subtle nail art, which is most easily done by starting with a half-moon manicure. 

It’s known by other names like a keyhole mani or negative space nails, but a half-moon manicure is basically when you skip over the semi-circle nail space right at the base of the cuticle. The rest of the nail is polished, business as usual, but you’re left with a cool-girl approach on the classic manicure. For this look, try a pale dandelion yellow like Essie’s Avant-Garment. (For the pink polish featured above, try Sally Hansen's Boss Gloss.) 

If you’re a signature at-home manicure type of lady, you can copy the look at home with the nail color of your choice. To make it less smudge-prone, grab a pack of self-adhesive hole reinforcements (or hole punch stickers) to use as a stencil and apply at the base of your nail. This ensures smooth lines and an easier application. (Tip: You can cut the sticker in half to help fit your nail.) You’re basically five minutes from feeling like Molly Ringwald, Pretty In Pink era: classic with an edge and sharp tongue to boot. 

Some make it even more fun by going with a reverse half-moon manicure, instead filling the half-moon with a color or glitter and leaving the rest of the nail bare or painted a low-key nude like OPI’s classic Bubble Bath, here accented with Essie’s crisp-blue Mint Candy Apple. 

Or take the term a little more literally by using an above and below nail color to make half-moon shapes and leaving the center colorless (always with a base coat and top coat!) for ultimate keyhole vibes. 

You can take things up a notch by leaving a larger amount of space bare and mixing up your colors. In this case, a super shiny topcoat—our all-time fave is Revlon’s Ultimate Shine Top Coat—will be your new bestie.

Even make it a French manicure, Fancy Nance. 

Basically there is a half-moon manicure for everyone, and your same-old nail color deserves an upgrade. 

From keyhole manicures to the updated French mani, this year a classic manicure is only the beginning.