There’s a lot to love about opaque white nail polish, whether it’s worn as a solid, all-over color or just on the free edge à la the classic
French manicure — but sometimes you want something a little softer, subtler, and sheerer. For those simpler times and occasions, take it down a notch and go with milky white nails instead.
This elegant nail trend recently appeared on the runway during
New York Fashion Week’s Fall/Winter 2022 shows, and it’s been taking over TikTok: As of today, the hashtag #milkynails totals over 4.3 million views of videos showcasing different ways to wear the sheer look. Brittany Boyce, celebrity nail artist and the founder of Nails of LA, describes this transparent take on a classic white mani as a daintier alternative to stark white. She compares it to the trendy jelly look but without the bright shades. “Milky white is pretty as a stand-alone all-over color, especially on long, almond-shaped nails,” Boyce says. “It's still giving you that very minimal vibe.”
Not only is this sheer color a chic choice for when you want to rock a
minimalist, natural-looking mani, but it can also serve as the perfect canvas for cool nail designs. “Normally, we'll do a milky neutral as a base, but a milky white can help other colors pop even more,” Boyce explains. “For abstract looks, it can be cool when paired with a stark white for that monochrome look.”
To create the sheered-out effect, Boyce likes to use a custom mix of white gel with clear to get the right level of milkiness, but you can also try it at home with any white nail polish and a thick, clear
top coat. Not a DIYer? Keep it simple (it’s the theme here if you haven’t noticed) with a pre-mixed sheer white shade, like Orly’s Breathable Light as a Feather or Jin Soon’s Dew polishes. Now that you know the right products to use to get the look, scroll ahead for 15 milky white nail ideas to inspire your next minimalist chic design. 1 Colorful Flowers
This mani is proof that milky white nails don’t have to be plain and simple. The cloudy white color makes the perfect base for
fun florals painted in saturated colors. 2 White Squiggles
If you’re into monochromatic vibes, opt for a manicure like this one, which combines both milky and bright white polishes for a unique design. The squiggle serves as the perfect balance between classic and abstract.
3 Milky Gradient
“When used for French tips or ombré nails, the transition is more natural,” Boyce says about milky white nail polish. Exhibit A: This dreamy gradient that fades from white to beige.
4 Solid & Simple
Experiment with the opacity of your milky white nails by creating multiple looks with the same polish. Stop at a single coat for the sheerest amount of coverage or layer it on to slightly intensify the color, like the nails shown here.
5 White Outlines
When you want to keep the focus on your
nail shape, use a thin striper brush to paint the smallest of white lines around the edge of the nail tips. Fill in the center with milky white polish to create an eye-catching contrast and accentuate the shape. 6 Milky & Matte
You could always try a
matte version of glossy, milky nails with a design like this one. Even softer than milky white, this nail polish finish will help you add texture to your monochromatic nail art. 7 Asymmetrical Milky Nails
Can’t decide between stark and milky white nails? Wear both! And if you’re not great at painting straight lines (let alone with your non-dominant hand), try pre-painted
nail stickers instead. 8 Outlined French Tips
While milky white polish
can allow for a softer transition on French tips, it doesn’t have to. Add a little more definition to your design with a solid line to separate the two shades. 9 Milky Ombré
Don’t have a milky white polish on hand? (Pun intended.) Cheat it with an ombré design by using a pastel shade and a simple white that gives the nails a similar faded feel.
A tiny touch of color, like the saturated
star stickers here, is all your nail art really needs to stand out. But to make it pop even more, start with a milky white base that won’t compete with your design. 11 Simple Lines
If you’re feeling like your faded French mani could use a little something extra, add a few organic strokes with a super-thin
striper brush. It looks cool, and it’s pretty easy to do yourself — a win-win. 12 Holographic Stripes
By adding a thin strip of holographic nail tape down the center of your milky white mani, your more basic look immediately transforms into an iridescent masterpiece.
13 Modern & Milky Negative space designs are a great compromise between natural nails and nail art. But if you want to slightly conceal the color of your natural nails without totally covering them up, try a sheer white as a base instead. 14 Touch Of Pink
A solid coat of transparent white with the faintest hint of pink isn’t too boring, but it’s also not too distracting. In other words, it’s the ideal neutral nail. Oh, and it’s a look J. Lo herself has worn.
15 Rhinestone Accents Rhinestones are always a good idea. A simple milky base works as a sophisticated backdrop that allows you to show off all your embellishments.
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