Gingham, Tie-Dye, & 12 Other Chic Nail Designs To Try This Spring

The '90s are back, baby.

Originally Published: 
Experts share the 14 spring 2021 nail art trends to watch for, including gingham and holographic des...
Getty Images/ Chanita Chokchaikul / EyeEm

Maybe you've already stocked up on spring-ready vests and patchwork prints and have a slew of warm weather-appropriate lipstick colors resting in your Sephora cart. Besides your wardrobe and your beauty look, there's another style detail to consider prepping for the next season: via spring 2021 nail designs, which are an easy, chic way to celebrate sunnier skies through your beauty routine.

Bustle spoke with top nail pros — including manicurist Mimi D, Orosa Beauty founder Carolyn Chen, Pear Nova founder Rachel James, celebrity nail artist and founder of Mazz Hanna Beauty Mazz Hanna, founder or Nails of LA, Brittany Boyce, Sundays' founder Amy Ling Lin, and more — to find out what this spring's biggest nail art trends are going to be. From returning favorites (like dots) to indie beauty looks — a trend Pinterest predicted will be major this year — and some very '90s-style designs (including a nod to one of the decade's most popular TV shows), let's just say you've got no shortage of options.

If you've become an expert at DIY manicures or are ready to manifest warmer temps through your tips, these 14 spring 2021 nail art trends are worth adding to your rotation.



Sally Hansen ambassador Hannah Lee, is pointing to gingham as one of the year's biggest trends. She says the pattern reminds her of a spring picnic, which is exactly why it's a design to watch for in the upcoming season.

Though you can use any colors to try the print, she says that blue and red are classics (Sally Hansen's Miracle Gel in Sugar Fix or OPI Nail Lacquer in It's a Boy are both great for the look). Start with a white base, then create thick stripes with a lighter blue polish. With a darker blue, line square shapes, fill them in, and finish with a matte top coat.



For some luminescence on your tips, Lee also sees holographic nail designs as a must-try this spring. Her take? This year will see a muted take on the color trend that's essentially an ombre over a nude nail, which is "perfect for those who want a toned-down manicure but still [with] some rainbow sparkle," she tells Bustle.

To get the manicure, Lee says to start with a nude base, then wait until it's slightly tacky. Then, lightly rub holographic powder onto the nail starting at the tip. As you move further away from the tip, lighten the pressure for an ombre effect, and finish everything off with a water-based top coat so you don't ruin the holographic effect.



Similar to the popular Skittles manicure trend, Lee sees a more ombre variation rising to popularity. Instead of vastly different colors on each nail, she recommends using a spectrum of one color across your hand, which is an easy design to DIY. The best part about it? You don't actually have to buy five different polishes to get the look.

Instead, Lee recommends buying a single shade (like deep pink) and then using a white nail polish to lighten the color for the other fingers. Begin dark and slowly graduate to the lightest shade.


"Smooshed" Pastels

Mimi D is all about the "smooshed pastel" manicure, which is an ultra-cute way to rock cotton candy shades. It features a few baby-soft hues of your choices and combines them into a tie-dye-like effect on the nail.

To get the look, she says you only need three to four colors and a makeup sponge. "Place all the colors close together on the makeup sponge, then lightly tap the sponge on your nail," she tells Bustle.


Multi-Colored French Tip

According to both Lin and Mimi D, the multi-colored French tip is back — and it's both customizable and easy to achieve at home. "It's a simple way to express yourself with multiple pops of bright colors that can brighten your mood when you look down at your hands," Lin tells Bustle of the design.

All you need is a nude base color, five shades of your choosing, and a detailer brush. First, paint your nails whatever shade of nude best matches your skin tone, and then use the brush to paint a thin line at the top of your nail. Repeat the step until you get the opacity you'd like.


Mismatched Florals

With the '90s making a major comeback this year, manicures are also seeing the decades' influence. One way? With a soft, mismatched floral pattern, according to Chen, who notes these are part of a larger trend of mood-boosting manicures. These use "fun mismatched color combinations to accent nails and feature daisies, smiley faces, and clouds," she tells Bustle of the look.

Choose four nail polish shades and start by painting your index and pinky nails with the same color and your middle finger with another. Next, use the two remaining shades to create three groups of four to five dot clusters on your ring finger (Chen says a white shade works best for this as it gives the appearance of a daisy). Repeat this on your thumb but with just one flower in the center. Next, use the final shade to create a dot in the centers of the clusters so they look like flowers. Add a top coat, and you're good to go.


Smiles In The Sky

If you caught Pinterest's beauty predictions for 2021, the platform pointed to "indie" makeup looks, which are abstract and very '90s-inspired. One such trend to watch for this year? Chen dubs the design "smiles in the sky," which features brightly-hued cloud patterns and fun smiley faces.

To get the look, you'll need a blue, white, yellow, and black nail polish. Begin by painting your thumb and middle finger yellow. As they dry, add two French tips in blue on your index and pinky nails, then paint your entire ring finger blue. Next, using a dotting tool and a detail brush, take black polish to create a smiley face on your thumb and middle finger. Finally, use your white shade and a dotting tool to create clouds on your ring finer. Seal it all in with a top coat.


Saved By The Bell

Another '90s-style mani trend? Hanna points to this Saved by the Bell-themed nail art as a way to rock it, particularly for its fun and bright vibes.

For this look, you'll need two to three neon polish colors of your choice and a neutral base. Use a dotting tool (or bobby pin) and a detail brush to create squiggles, dashes, and dots, then seal it in with a top coat.


Brush Strokes

Boyce says bright shades will remain a statement for spring 2021, and brush strokes are an easy way to embrace vivid hues. Her tip? Layer the design with gold foil or metallic glitter to "break it up a bit," she says.

To get the look, start with clean nails and paint a base coat. Allow to dry and add a neutral shade that matches your skin tone. Next, choose the mix of metallic shades and bright colors you'd like to use. Using the first color, paint a single stroke along each nail in whatever direction you'd like. Let dry, and then repeat this step with your metallic shade. It should look as though an artist has created a brushstroke over your nail. Once everything has dried, finish with a top coat.


Gold Accents

For those who like to keep things minimal, Boyce points to simple, gold metallic accents on neutral nails as a popular look this spring.

She recommends painting your nails a neutral shade and then use a gold metallic polish and a detail brush to get the look — though you could also use press-on options for an even quicker mani.



Another simple but cute nail art idea for spring? Dots. "I love that [dots] can either go minimal or maximal with my look," says James, who notes that it's a design that's friendly to DIY manicurists of all skill levels.

To get the look, James says to place the nail polish color you'd like to use on aluminum foil. Then, use a dotting tool (or ballpoint pen) to dab from the polish onto the nail. She says you can practice your dots on a sheet of paper first to experiment with size. Once all your dots to dry, finish with a top coat.



The '90s aren't the only decade coming back this spring. Sigourney Nunez, OPI’s North America education manager, also sees retro patterns from the '60s and '70s returning. "This is expressed through bold shades paired with bright pastels and graphic, swirly patterns that are therapeutic to execute," she tells Bustle.

To get the look, Nunez says to first apply a base coat, then add a layer of a neutral shade. Once that's dry, repeat to increase the coverage. Then, using a sponge, add a thin layer of a polish color of your choice (Nunez uses OPI Nail Lacquer in “Two Timing the Zones” for a pretty pink). When that's finished, use a fine brush to paint a thin, wavy line with a white polish. Trace the side of the line you just drew with a slightly deeper color. Once everything is dry, seal it in with a top coat.



Marble nails are neutral but still fun. The nail pros at Ella + Mila tell Bustle that the look is “modern yet earthy,” and allows you to create texture and depth for an artistic mani.

To get this marble-inspired nail art, first apply your base coat and allow it to dry. Next, apply two coats of a sheer skin-toned polish. Once dry, use a soft white shade and a brush to draw a squiggling diagonal line through the center of the nail. Then, dip a detail brush into nail polish remover — making sure to remove excess liquid — and blur the edges of the lines for the marbled effect. Create as many lines and blurred effects as you’d like. When dry, mix a mauve-toned pink shade with a clear coat to create a sheer layer over the top, add add this into any areas you want more depth. Add more definition with white polish to your marble lines, and seal with a top coat.



Celebrity and editorial manicurist Mimi D says a tie-dye rainbow manicure may look difficult, it’s actually incredibly easy to achieve. To create it, Mimi says to first paint your nails white or off-white and let dry. When done, grab a damp makeup sponge and choose three colors — she opted for bright pastels. Dot each color — close to one another but not overlapping — onto the sponge and then gently tap it over the white base color. Then, voila: instant rainbow nails.

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