Why grey is this season’s go-to hue for neutral nails

After last year’s obsession with nail art and glazed finishes, this winter is all about subtle manicures in muted tones – and grey nails are leading the trend.

Gone are the days of complicated nail designs, chromatic finishes and talons that verge on becoming a safety hazard.

Growing demand for a pared-back look and natural, short nails could signal a shift in the industry, with nail art and extensions reaching a point of saturation.

In a welcome turn of events, subtle manicures in muted tones are steadfastly becoming the pick of the season.

According to Nailology founder Quynh Nguyen, grey nails are shaping up to be one of winter’s defining nail trends.

“We’ve seen growing demand for muted, neutral nail shades at the salon, grey tones in particular,” Quynh says.

“When we think of grey, the Audi Nardo Grey and stone marble comes to mind; whether it’s a flat, clean shade (or) the dapples of marble, grey can be very mesmerising on almost all nail types.”

Is grey a good colour for nails?

Grey might not be the most vibrant of shades, nor particularly exciting, but its practicality and wearability are what is winning people over in the nail salon.

There’s also the fact it isn’t a seasonally specific nail colour; unlike the dark, rich colours typically relegated to the cooler months or the bright shades often worn in summer, grey nails are appropriate all year round.

Why grey nails are trending in beauty

Like most beauty trends these days, the rise in popularity of grey nails has been swift, thanks in part to both BeautyTok and Hailey Bieber’s stamp of approval.

The Rhode founder, who is also credited for sparking the glazed nails trend, has become

one of the industry’s trailblazers.

“We cannot deny that celebrities and BeautyTok have had a huge influence in the nail industry,” Quynh says.

Hailey Bieber has definitely put glazed nails on the map, and the trend isn’t going away anytime soon, she adds.

Meanwhile on TikTok, grey nail polish has already hit over 26M views and counting.

Grey nails are low-maintenance

Another factor behind the popularity of grey nails isn’t so obvious.

As the cost of living crisis continues, Australians are winding back on professional beauty services to make ends meet.

They’re also stretching the time between maintenance services, which makes neutral nail shades the more economical choice — compared to bold colours, growing out a grey manicure is far less obvious.

“The cost of living has definitely created new behaviours in our clients,” Quynh says.

“Usually, our clients are back for a refresh within two weeks but since then, it’s now pushed out to three to four weeks.”

She says clients are also choosing DIY manicures and while some turn out well, many cause noticeable damage to the nail bed through poor application and improper removal techniques.

“So, it’s important to leave it (manicures) to the professionals,” Quynh says.

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Written by beauty editor Charlotte Brundrett.