Skip to main content

Getting ready for the fall and winter months is all about ushering in the coziest of vibes, from your wardrobe to your nail polish. If you’re a particularly big fan of doing the latter, you likely also love a good seasonal manicure trend, which means your For You Page probably has tons of “hot chocolate” nail looks on it right now.

“Since it’s fall, people are looking for warm, cozy vibes – kind of like the feeling you get when you drink hot cocoa,” celebrity nail artist Sonya Meesh, tells POPSUGAR. Beauty has long had the ability to affect your mood, and certain colors like this shade of brown can provide a sense of optimism, calm, or relaxation.

With all things fall, winter, and holiday going full steam ahead, read on to learn exactly what hot-chocolate nails are, as well as how you can take the simple trend and make it your own, thanks to Meesh’s tips.

What Are Hot-Chocolate Nails?

This trend looks exactly as it sounds and captures the color of the decadent beverage flawlessly. “It’s brown but in a rich, creamy, deeply pigmented shade that evokes the warmth of a cup of hot chocolate,” Meesha says. “Depending on your skin tone (and the different variations of the drink you may like), you can go lighter or darker brown. The main thing is to top it with a glossy top coat for extra richness.”

Slightly cloudy brown shades have been trending for a while, and previous iterations have given birth to “chocolate-glazed donut,” “milk tea,” and even “latte” nails, with each polish shade mirroring the respective treats that they were named after. “This trend looks great on everyone,” Meesh says. “Brown is quite neutral, but there are so many different shades available that it’s easy to find a brown that looks good for your skin tone. It’s also relatively easy to DIY as you just need a good brown polish and a glossy top coat.”

How to Get Hot-Chocolate Nails

Getting the look is fairly simple. “First, find a good brown shade that’s highly pigmented and matches your skin tone well,” Meesh says. The rule of thumb is that warmer hues tend to better complement lighter skin and cooler ones work best for darker tones. So if you fall into the former category, opt for camels, khakis, or yellowy tans. For the latter, reach for light taupes, mochas, or rose browns. Of course, there are no rules to beauty, so ultimately the color that you want to wear is what will be best for you.

As the look is based on just a solid, single-shade manicure, it’s important that the nails are shaped to perfection. To prep, start with a base coat to prevent staining, and for color, you want to apply the brown polish in thin layers so that they are not streaky. “Be sure to let each layer dry in between applications and finish with a very glossy top coat to give it a lot of shine,” Meesh says. Some polishes that they recommend include Orly’s Don’t Be Suspicious ($9) and Manicurist Paris’s Clove ($14).

If you want to take the look up a notch, it also plays very well with nail art. “Some people do gradient designs or french tips (think hot cocoa topped with marshmallows) if they want nail art,” Meesh says. “You can also do a simple horizontal color-blocking look with two different browns,” they say.

Hot-Chocolate Nails Inspiration

Are you ready for your own hot-chocolate nails? We rounded up the best iterations of the trend that we could find ahead.