9 Summer Nail Art Trends On The Rise

Summer Nail Art

Summer Nail Art is all about experimentation. This summer, you might be leaning towards the "natural nail" aesthetic, doing your nails at home to save money and time spent at the salon while still looking beautiful. Perhaps TikTok has influenced you to try the red nail theory that many of us are wearing (and subliminally considering) Big Apple Red. 

There are so many trends to try. Given the economic situation, it makes sense that many of us will be creating DIY designs, trying our hand (literally) at micro French or simply opting for a simple one-color manicure. Here, we give you a mix, so whether you go to the salon before a wedding or paint your nails at home — realistically, you'll be doing both this season — here are some ideas to inspire you.

Modern French

There's always a "new" way to approach a French manicure. The latest trend update is actually a throwback to the popular styles of the '90s and early '20s, called "Modern French." It takes the classic French design — neutral, with a pink base and bright white tips — and softens it so that there's an almost imperceptible color transition between the base and the tips. For the base, you want a sheer or thinly tinted color that will show your skin tone while evening out the color and adding shine. Then the tips should be a subdued cream rather than stark white. The result is very you-but-better nails.

Barbie Jelly

This summer, we can't get enough of Barbiecore. While wearing magenta might be tricky if you're leaning towards the summer's neutral colors like linen and denim, an electric pink manicure is a low-risk accessory to try for about a week. This pink-on-pink design from @overglowedit combines two different shades of pink in a French design. The tutorial shows that this precise color comes from a jelly polish, a combination of pink and clear, which thins out the pigment for a smooth and super shiny finish.

Mermaid Blue

In anticipation of the live-action remake of Disney's The Little Mermaid, there has been a movement towards mermaidcore. When it comes to nails, this looks like blue, green, and teal nail polish with a shimmering top coat or chrome powder on top for added sparkle. If you need an honest endorsement: I wore a mermaid manicure for two weeks and preferred my shiny blue nails over the usual Ballet Slipper pink! You can definitely do it yourself too. Paint your nails at home with the most mermaid-like nail polish (purple works too), or bring an inspiration photo or TikTok video to your nail salon.

Rainbow Splatter

Pearlescent pastel nail polish plus 3D gel gives us the thick rainbow splatter nail art trend. It's subtle, but if you look closely here — this nail art by Los Angeles-based artist Mary Grace Koh — you'll see that some nails have these raised semi-amorphous droplets. This is a Korean nail art trend, so if you're looking for something similar, I suggest looking for Korean nail salons or studios in your area. 

Instead of wearing the same design on all ten fingers, mix and match different colors and designs (we love a combination of pastel pistachio, orange, and strawberry) to try non-matching manicures, a trend that will continue to feel fresh throughout the summer.

Double French

Why settle for a single French tip when you can double it (or triple it)? We love influencer Lauren Ladnier's look, which combines fine-line French tips with a rainbow of nail polish colors, making each nail unique. You can double it on each finger or add three lines, for a French three times over on some nails. Think of it like stacking rings, but for your nails.

Vanilla Chrome

For the summer, we're seeing reflective mirror metallic nails swinging back into the trend realm. The shade du jour: French Vanilla. Your nail polish color should be on the white-yellow spectrum (more creamy or ivory) and should be slightly opaque but still glossy. Then you can add chrome powder on top for a reflective shine that keeps the yellow tone from looking flat. It makes all the difference.

Orange Aura

If you're looking for something brighter, try neon orange. "For the festival season, I expect to see colorful neon shades," says nail expert Kim Truong. "The trick to making your neon polish really pop is by applying a white base underneath." In this example from Paintbucket, we see an interpretation of the "aura" or "blooming gel" manicure with a neutral pink-nude base color and a large tangerine ombré ball in the center of each nail. You can also use airbrushing techniques to create the effect.

Mismatched Colors

If you've never tried a mismatched manicure — where your left hand has one design or color and your right hand gets another — summer is the time to give it a go. If you're into press-on nails and have a few boxes at home, mix two different designs in the same manicure. Or, you can simply use regular polish. Green and blue, perhaps. Or peach and yellow, as seen in this example by Chillhouse. Given that we're heading into a new season with lots of transitions ahead, this is the perfect design to save in your 'Saved' folder.

Lip Gloss Nails

Truong predicts that pure pink will be popular as we move further into summer. Truong recently shared with R29 how to achieve this look: Mix a rich pink color with a clear top coat, which will make the polish appear more translucent or smooth, like a lip gloss aesthetic.

Big added bonus: This style can serve as a reset when you've been wearing chrome-dusted nails and want something that's not as shiny but not completely bare.

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