While having an eye-catching manicure is a great idea all year round, there’s something about summer that makes you feel more adventurous. Whether it’s embracing ultra-bright colours, fresh new textures, stylish shapes or daring designs, now’s the time to shake it up. Keep reading to discover easy ways to update your signature style, as well as this season’s most on-trend summer nail design ideas to take your manicure to the next level.
This is the season to go as bright, warm and tropical as the weather! Create a fruity cocktail of bold shades – think pink, green, red, yellow and blue. When summer arrives, the rules go out the window, and it’s time to show off your creativity in manicure form. Plus, there are no gloves to hide behind – so your nails can get all the attention they deserve!
Not only should your colour choice get more creative in summer, but the season is the perfect opportunity to show off different designs too. You can mix it up by wearing multiple different types on the same hand. For a flattering look, choose the same basic colour palette like sunset hues and go for different finishes like ombré mixed with glitter. Geometric shapes also look great when contrasted with polka dots on a feature nail. The only limit is your imagination.
While summer offers plenty of opportunities to experiment with your nails, one of the biggest trends is a simple look. Peachy apricot tones are a summer staple every year, and it’s easy to see why. This hue is universally flattering on every skin tone. It also goes well with a full spectrum of other colours, from navy to pink and white. It’s feminine and understated while still being playful, and it looks gorgeous paired with gold and rose-gold jewellery – another massive trend for summer.
The coffin nail shape, also known as ballerina style, is what it sounds like: lengthy acrylics with a tapered, squared-off edge that looks like a coffin or ballet shoe. This nail shape has a lot of attitude and also gives you plenty of space to play with the colour, design and decoration. You can take them to the next level with holographic foiling, ombré colouring, beads and jewels. These are the nails you get if you want to make a statement – so it’s not a shock that coffin nails are a favourite of Instagram stars and influencers.
For a more understated vibe, the classic round shape is also on-trend for summer. A catwalk favourite, this chic and straightforward nail shape is very versatile. Round nails can attract attention when painted with a deep or bold colour; alternatively, they can be the height of sophistication when paired with a nude polish. Pared-back and low-maintenance, round nails are a great choice if your style is classically elegant or a little androgynous.
Square nails are a great choice if you have naturally narrow and flat nail beds, they will make your fingertips look wider. They’re also considered the healthiest nail shape as there’s less risk of your nails flaking, catching or breaking. If you’re opting for long acrylics, squared ends are also a popular style. This is because the squared tip again makes the nail look wider, balancing the length of the nails. Experiment with bright coral tones or pastel colours, they are a trendy choice this summer.
Long and tapered to an elegant point, almond nails are a sexy and glamorous shape. They get their name from the shape of the almond nut. A universally flattering style, almond nails make fingers, and nail beds look slimmer and keep your talons quite strong. Because this nail shape requires some length to create, some opt for acrylics to get the almond look. Mix pastel ombre with the block colour nails, for the playful and fun summer style.
One of the lesser-known nail shapes, mountain peaks have become a big trend this year. Nails are kept to medium length and tapered to a small, fine point. The mountain peak shape follows a similar pattern to stiletto nails, but it doesn’t require the fingernails to be as long. As a result, it’s possible to get this shape with natural nails if yours are healthy and not prone to breakage. Mountain peaks look great with soft, subtle nail colour to let the shape do all the talking.
Acrylics are the fastest way to get the long nails you’ve always dreamed about. They’re also a simple way to change the shape of your nails, and they don’t require lamp curing like gels. The extra length and on-trend shapes you can get from acrylics are perfect for summer. Show off your talons with a white polish and a feature nail in a different finish, like holographic. However, you’ll need to go to the salon regularly for in-fills and replacements. This may be more common in summer, as being outdoors and swimming can increase your risk of lifting or breaking the acrylics.
A gel manicure is an easy way to make your nail colour and design last. Gel nails are also softer and more flexible than acrylics, so they have a more natural look. If you want to extend the length of your nails but don’t want the upkeep of acrylics, gel is the choice for you. Sticking with the natural theme, gel nails for summer look beautiful paired with a pink or nude polish. Shake it up with different finishes like matte and gloss, and add cute details like glitter stripes. If you get sick of your gel colour, you can paint over it with regular nail polish – as long as it’s a darker colour. But for the best result, go to a professional for a fresh manicure.
For a standout look this summer, go for graphic nails. To properly show off this artistic look, either grow out your nails or choose acrylics in a long shape like stiletto or square. Then, let your creativity shine with contrasting colours, finishes and textures. The paint splatter effect is a big trend and looks fantastic over a super matte base coat in black or white.
When it comes to the neon trend, it’s all about choosing the colour that’s right for your skin tone. Ultra-bright, acid hues like lime green, electric blue and yellow pop against deeper skin – in fact, all neons will suit you if you have a very dark complexion. Meanwhile, if you’re on the fairer side, stick to hot pink and purple manicures to make the most of this vibrant trend.
What’s cuter than fruit?! This super sweet nail trend is a summertime classic. It’s pretty, playful and a little bit retro. From kiwis to watermelons, bananas and citrus, your manicure will pack a juicy punch. For a new take on the trend, combine cherries with polka dots. The red and white colour palette and delicate design are versatile enough to suit different styles. This look is very Instagram-worthy and looks good enough to eat!
The easiest design to shake up your look for summer is a glitter topcoat. For the most low-maintenance – and time-saving – option, slick it on over a nude polish on natural nails. You can also add this type of topcoat to acrylic nails. For this summer, the trend is chunkier, multi-coloured glitter rather than a delicate wash of sparkle. It’s a disco for your hands! If you’re cutting back on plastic, choose a polish with biodegradable glitter particles.
Add a touch of fun to your manicure with bright colours and a feature nail. Citrus pop hues like orange are an instant mood booster. The feature nail is usually on your ring finger. The key is to complement the tones in the other polish while creating an eye-catching contrast. It’s also an opportunity to try out a design that might look too busy or overwhelming if it was on every nail. When it comes to a summer-friendly feature, a horizontal, abstract design in rainbow colours looks fresh and cute.
When summer’s in the air, the pastel polish comes out! From mint green to butter yellow, pink and periwinkle blue, there’s an adorable shade to suit everyone. These bright yet muted hues remind you of fresh flowers and ice cream. Try painting a different pastel shade on each finger, or choose your favourite and go all out. Another big trend is to create an asymmetric tip design with a range of pastels, on a neutral base like nude or white. This type of design works best on a long, tapered shape like a stiletto.
For all those glamorous summer nights out, why not try this chic take on the colour block trend? Gold is the king of party polishes, while black takes this design in an elegant direction. Chevron tips create an arrow effect, drawing the eye down, so both your nail beds and fingers look longer. This type of design also works with other colour combinations. For a daytime twist, try it with black and white instead of gold, or blue and silver.
The classic French tip design combines a nude base with a white edge, usually on square or squared-off oval-shaped nails. This look first became popular in the ”70s and had a big revival in the ‘90s and early 2000s. It has a retro appeal. For an on-trend summer twist, replace the white tip with the colour of your choice. A minty turquoise blue pairs well with the original nude basecoat.
Who doesn’t love floral nail design? This ultra-feminine look is perfect for summer when wildflowers are in full bloom. To make the flowers stand out, use a neutral basecoat in a light hue as if you were painting on canvas. If you don’t have the time – or expertise – to hand-paint floral designs on each nail, you can use decals or stencils. Alternatively, create a floral feature nail on your ring finger.
You can get away with neglecting your toenails in winter, but when the warm weather hits it’s time to give your feet a treat! Summer is the essential time to have a picture-perfect pedicure because your toes will be on show in sandals, heels and at the beach. Match your pedicure to your manicure, either in terms of the colour, design or finish. One on-trend option is to go for a sleek neutral base with pops of metallic. Gold goes well with pinky nudes, while silver looks lovely against taupe.