Fact: Warm days are on the horizon, which means it’s time to swap out your winter coats and sweaters for flowy blouses and sleeveless tops. The same swap can be done with your nail polish, traded in dark, moody lacquers for a brightly colored manicure that captures the energy of the season. Summer nail art designs (like stickers, negative space, swirls, and more) can help get you in the mood for beach days and time with friends and family. “Whether they're stickers or hand painted, small pictures on the nail are a super fun way to express yourself and give your mani some personality,” says Rita Remark, essie’s global lead educator and nail artist.
But with Instagram having bottomless inspiration, what nail art designs are the most popular this summer? For starters, Y2K fashion is back in full swing, and celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippman predicts nails will follow suit. “Rose-colored glasses, crop tops, space buns, and baggy jeans have made a comeback from Y2K,” she states. “For nails that means we’re bringing out the space-age nail polish with multi-faceted shimmers, color travel, and cosmic colors.”
Ahead, TZR spoke to top manicurists to gather the seven most coveted nail art trends of the season. From ombré nails to the upside down French, you’ll definitely want to bring these to your next nail appointment. And if DIY is more your style, there are nail stickers and products below to help you get the looks, too.
A Galaxy Far, Far Away
Lippmann has received multiple requests for galaxy-inspired manicures. “The customer favorite so far is a full-coverage translucent purple with silver and gold shimmer,” she says. “The sugar-coated candy mani is to transport you to space.” The pro recommends having a tiny nail brush on hand to perfect the abstract shape and designs. The brush can also be dipped into nail polish remover to correct any imperfections.
According to Thea Green, Founder of Nails.INC, “Tips are this season’s biggest nail art trend.” Whether you choose bright tips, pastels, or shimmer, you won’t go wrong with a modern take on the traditional French. Green prefers hands that don’t perfectly match, meaning a mixture of bright French tips and shimmer is fully welcomed. “There’s beauty in the imperfect,” the expert tells TZR.
Upside Down French
A thin line across the base of your nail (also known as the half moon nail) is the key to an upside-down French manicure. Keep in mind that because polish is at the bottom of the nail, you will need to make sure your cuticles are in proper shape. With cuticle oil, massage a dime-sized amount onto cuticles each night to keep them moisturized.
Waves and squiggles nail art continue to circulate throughout the seasons but this summer they are given an update with color block checkers, hearts, and stars — all super easy nail designs to DIY at home. Simply grab three to five of your favorite nail polish colors and a nail art brush and paint a few of your favorite graphic designs on each nail, flip-flopping the colors as you see fit.
This playful mani is almost impossible to mess up, with the imperfect geode lines stacked on top of each other for each nail. It’s ideal if you have unsteady hands — or just like your summer nail art to not look too precious. Apply Deborah Lippmann High and Dry every three days to refresh the shine and protect your nails from the sun. The UVA and UVB inhibitors help prevent the polish from discoloring and the stickers (if you choose to use any) from lifting.
Speaking of Y2K, butterflies are back with a vengeance. Seen on clothing, jewelry, and hair clips, butterflies have also made their way to summer nail designs. The great thing about this trend is it can easily be done with nail stickers and secured with a quick-drying top coat.
Beloved for the easy customization, ombré nails will be a big trend this summer. “The traditional ombre from nail to nail is getting a big update,” shares Remark. The pro recommends doing a vertical ombre where two colors blend down the middle of the nail or add a design on top of ombré manicure for an illusion effect. To DIY, start by polishing one coat of the lighter shade, and wait to dry. Next, blend the other color in with a makeup wedge by tapping lightly.