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What Are Syrup Nails, the Manicure Trend From Korea

Jul 21, 2023Jul 21, 2023

Natural mani lovers, this one’s for you.

First came glazed doughnut nails, then came strawberry milkshake nails…now, syrup nails are the latest food-inspired mani trend. The look made its way stateside from Korea, though actually originated in Japan back in 2015, says Amy Ling Lin, CEO & Founder of the nail polish and nail care brand Sundays. It’s a type of manicure that’s ideal for anyone who loves neutral, nude nails…that are amped up ever-so-slightly. Not to mention that while it may look complicated, it’s actually fairly easy to achieve. (Spoiler alert: You just need one color.) Keep reading for more info on the trend, plus a step-by-step tutorial for scoring this type of statement-making mani.

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Syrup nails have a natural ombré effect that’s created by layering sheer nail polish, says Lin. This creates a gentle gradation—where the tip has the most saturated amount of color—that makes for a syrupy looking nail with a jelly-like finish, adds nail expert Eunice Park, R&D manager at Aprés Nail.

According to Park, people are gravitating towards more natural nails these days. “Syrup nails create that ‘natural but better’ look on the nails, especially when used with neutral colors,” she explains, adding that it’s also incredibly wearable and versatile. (FYI, using sheer, neutral hues is the easiest way to score the best result, especially if you’re DIY-ing, but more on those specifics in a moment.) Lin agrees: “Nail trends have been more eye-catching with rather complicated designs and patterns. I think people are looking for something refreshing and different.” She also adds that this works great on both long and short nails.

The key here is that you’ll want the color to be the sheerest at the base of your nail and the most pigmented or saturated at the tip. This can be achieved by layering one color, though you’ll want the polish you choose to be a lighter color that has a sheer finish, advises Lin—think pastels, nudes, and neutrals. “Darker polishes such as rich reds, bright blues, and blacks won’t give you that syrupy, or jelly-like effect and will instead just read as a traditional ombré," she points out. A few colors to try: Sundays No.49 ($18;; Essie Nail Polish in Perennial Chic ($4;; OPI Nail Lacquer in Purple Palazzo Pants ($10;

Start by prepping your nails with a base coat to create a smooth and even canvas. Try: Ten Over Ten The Foundation ($18;, which works as both a base coat and strengthener. After that’s dry, paint a rough tip on the end of your nails, as you would with a classic French tip. But don't worry about it being even, as the next few layers will blend away any flaws, says Lin. Once that’s dry, continue the process by adding two to three more layers of color, stopping slightly below the last layer each time. “For example, start at the top of the nail an paint another layer mid-nail. Then add a last layer of color slightly above the start of your half-moon, the bottom pink area above the cuticle area at the end of your nail,” Lin suggests. The end goal is a smooth gradient of color that’s sheer at the base and opaque at the tip. Once you’re satisfied with how it looks and the polish is dry, finish with a high-gloss top coat; we like Sally Hansen Color Therapy Beautifiers High Gloss Top Coat ($10; Not only does this help increase the longevity of your mani, it also provides that added shiny, glossy finish that mimics syrup,” Lin explains.