Painting your nails a simple, single color isn’t enough anymore. Beauty gurus and celebs like Kylie Jenner have taken nails to the next level with incredibly intricate designs. Doing your nails has become an art in itself.
Getting your nails done regularly can be expensive but although it seems like it takes a professional to get perfect Insta-worthy nails, most designs aren’t actually as complicated as they seem.
We found some of the most simple designs that even the most beginner nail enthusiast could re-create. You’ll be able to be on-trend with ease, regardless of your nail skills or budget!
1. Polka dots
Polka dots are one of the easiest trends to do yourself. After painting a base coat, then letting it sit a moment, simply grab one of the million bobby pins you’re bound to have laying around and paint dots wherever you want on your nails. You can go full polka dot on every nail or just dot a few accent nails. You can get really creative with this one!
2. Fishnet nails
This design looks super difficult to achieve, but it’s probably one of the easiest. This hack will give your nails a super chic fishnet look. Start off by painting your nails a dark color. After, cut a small portion of a loofah and place it over your nail. Pour a lighter color polish on a paper plate and using a makeup sponge, dab a bit of the light colored nail polish onto your nail. Remove the loofah to reveal fishnet nails!
3. Cubism design
Tape is your best friend when you’re doing nail art. Cut tape into thin strips and place them on your nail in any design you desire. Using different colors, fill in the cubes you created with tape. Peel the tape off to reveal your masterpiece!
4. Lace nails
Lace nails may look really difficult but are actually really easy when it comes down to it. Start off by painting your nails any color. Get an actual piece of lace, which you can find in any craft store or using an old piece of lace clothing and cut into nail-sized pieces. Once your base coat is dry, paint on a topcoat. While the topcoat is still wet, stick the lace over your nail. Make sure to press firmly down and once it dries, paint a second top coat on the lace. Peel off the lace for some beautiful-looking nails.
You can find more detailed instructions here.
5. Stone nails
Crumpled plastic doesn’t serve many purposes, but it comes in handy for this nail design. Start by painting your nails a base color. For the marble look, paint them white. Next, grab a crumpled plastic bag and paint your secondary color directly on the bag. Gold or silver is recommended for this particular design. Once you have polish on the bag, simply dab it on your nails. Re-apply polish as needed. Once you’ve finish all your nails, apply a top coat to seal it in and spread lightly and you’re done!
For step-by-step directions, click here.
6. Gradient nails
Creating a gradient effect on your nails makes them look super chic and is actually way easier than it appears. Really all you need is a sponge to create this look! First paint the lightest color as a base coat. Then, pour your base coat color and a second, darker color on a paper plate next to each other. Using a toothpick, swirl the colors together a bit in the middle. Grab a sponge and dip it on the paper plate so both appear on the sponge, with the area where they are slightly mixed. Dab the sponge lightly onto your nails and continuously move the sponge ever so slightly up and down your nail.
Learn more about this technique here!
7. Color block nails
Why have just one color on your nail when you can have two?! Start off by choosing two colors for your nails. Paint your entire nail with two coats of one shade and let it dry. Then, take the second color and paint your nail from the middle on up. It’s okay if the line isn’t perfectly straight, it can be part of the look — but if you want more precision, use tape! That’s all you have to do to get this two toned color block look!
8. A modern look with just white polish with a black lines
Black and white is a classic combination that always looks super elegant. To get this look, paint your nails with an opaque white polish. Next, using either a Sharpie marker or a black polish and a thin brush, swipe lines over your nails in whatever design you desire. Finish the look off with a clear top coat and you’re done!
9. Splatter painted nails
Messy nail-painters, this one is for you! You literally just need to throw some polish on to get this look. Start off with a base coat. An opaque white polish is a good base for this. Place a few drops of the polish you want to splatter onto a paper plate. Dip one end of a straw into the polish and place the straw about 2-3 inches from your nail. Use a quick breath to blow out the polish on to your nail. And voila! You have splatter nails.
Learn more on how to do this here.
10. Gradient with glitter top coat
This is similar to the gradient look we showed before, but this one has glitter! Glitter makes everything a little more glam. To get this look, use a sponge like you would the gradient nails. After you achieve the gradient look, add glitter to either the tips or cuticles. This is a super easy addition to a gradient look that really kicks the artistic factor up a notch!
11. Lightning nails
Lightning nails are an awesome and unique look. Basically all you have to do to get lightning nails is start by painting a base coat (purple, blue or black will probably look best) and let it dry. Be sure to paint a second coat, and then use white polish on a thin utensil to make the lightning shapes. The good thing about these is that the bolts should look a little zig-zaggy so even those with wobbly hands will be able to perfect the look.
For a video tutorial, click here!
12. Thick white stripe to bring out a dark color
This is one of the easiest designs we could find. All you have to do is paint your nails a dark color of your choice. Do two coats of the dark color and let your nails dry completely. Then, grab a white polish and paint a thick stripe in the middle of your nails. Seal it in with a top coat and you’re done! This look makes the dark polish stand out and has a minimalist vibe. For an accent nail, reverse the colors!
13. Ruffian manicure
The Ruffian manicure sounds more intimidating than it is. It is basically a french manicure in reverse. Rather than a stripe on the top of your nail, it is at the bottom. All you need to do for this look is paint your nails a base color (duh), this will be the color of the stripe. Then, paint your nails the color you’d like most of your nails to be, leaving a small sliver of the base coat showing at the very bottom of your nail. Not too hard!
14. The undone, abstract manicure
This one is great because there are literally no rules. To get this look, let your inner artist and imagination run free! Start off with a base coat (the classic) and then add whatever your heart desires to your nails. Use different colors, glitter, blocks and polka dots — even combine several techniques on this list! There’s no wrong answer in abstract art, so get creative!
15. Seawater Mani
Summer may be basically over but you can keep bringing the beach with you throughout the fall. This tutorial seriously doesn’t look that difficult and as long as you have all the right colors, glue and a sponge, shouldn’t take you too long to perfect.
16. Scales design
This one is probably the most difficult, but you can totally do it! And who doesn’t want to be a mermaid? Start by painting your nails a teal color — more experienced nail artists can even get more creative with the base coat as in the attached Instagram. Using a thin brush, paint gold “scales” on your nail. Basically making scallop design near the base of your nail. Keep making this design until you reach the top of your nail and that’s all!
Learn more about this design here.