With warmer days right around the corner, the call of the nail salon is stronger than ever. Whether you have a vacation on the horizon, al fresco weekend plans, or simply want to update your mani to match the weather, summer 2023’s biggest nail art trends have got your back.
While you can wear funky colors all year round, summer nail art is always a bit on the brighter side — especially for 2023. According to
Rachel Apfel Glass, the founder of Glosslab, this season is all about extra bright colors and eye-catching designs. Whether it’s a set of sunset nails, a neon micro French manicure, or an artsy airbrushed mani, Glass recommends stepping outside of your comfort zone and leaning into a tropical, colorful summer fantasy.
That said, there is a place for simpler nail art come July and August, whether it’s neutral glossy tips, tiny decals, or
milky, glazed donut nails à la Hailey Bieber (yes, they’re still a thing). These more minimalist hues will still look fresh while you swim, picnic, roller skate, or run through airports to catch a flight outta town.
Craving a polish update? Keep scrolling for 16 summer nail art trends that’ll inspire your next manicure.
1 Colorful French Fade
Also called sunset nails, this
ombre nail art starts off either white or colorful then blurs to a neutral. “French fades are nothing new, but swapping the traditional white for a summer shade makes this manicure perfect for the warmer months,” says Juli Russell, a DIY nail expert for Sally Beauty. “Much like the classic French manicure, sunset nails are easy to wear because the neutral base hides growth more than a solid color manicure, allowing longer wear time between changes.” 2 Neon Micro French
According to Russell,
micro French manicures are all the rage RN — and they’re not going anywhere. The dainty take on the classic has been spotted on everyone from J.Lo to Michelle Williams. “It’s minimal, effortless, and suitable for all nail lengths,” she says. “With summer just around the corner, swap out your classic white polish with a fun neon yellow.” 3 Black Micro French
If you aren’t quite ready to go bright, opt for a swipe of black on your tips. It’s the perfect goth-chic touch, and it’s easy to customize — go with a colorful base if you want more of a pop.
4 Glass Nails
A marbling effect that makes your nails look like glass is one way to turn heads this summer. “It can be quick, simple, and always attention-grabbing,” says Marie Littlewood, a nail expert and director at
NSI. “Given that no two nails could look the same, it's a very customizable look.” 5 Milky Nails Deborah Lippmann, a celebrity manicurist and brand founder, is a big fan of milky nails this time of year. “Who doesn’t love a low-maintenance sheer nail polish to complement the summer months?” she says, noting that so many celebrities are rocking this trend on the red carpet (see also: Hailey Bieber). To recreate it at home, use a creamy white polish. 6 Naked Nails
If you’re going on vacation and don’t want to worry about chipped polish, hop on the
clean girl look to keep things simple. While it almost looks like you’re not wearing anything on your nails, it does involve a super simple polish. “I love this trend because I think there is an understated elegance to having a subtle, natural nail look,” Lippmann says. She recommends a sheer, natural beige polish. 7 Neon Powdered Pigments Mr. Luis, a celebrity nail artist and educator at LeChat Nails, points to neon powdered pigment nail art as a hot summer trend. “These bright neon pigments are definitely taken over this summer,” he tells Bustle. It’s bright, it’s ’90s-inspired, and it’s perfect for the boardwalk. According to Mr. Luis, airbrushing is back. 8 Space Galaxy Nails
Have you ever wanted your nails to look like a nebula? Now is the time. According to Mr. Luis, the trending look combines metallics and airbrushing to create an other-worldly design. “Metallics give that dramatic color shift and multi-tone metallic effect on its own — no effort needed,” he says. Add little gems to mimic the stars.
9 3D Jewels
3D nails will be big this summer, says Glamnetic founder and CEO Ann McFerran. To take things up a notch, ask for gems, stones, or acrylic at your next manicure to create a 3D jeweled effect. 10 Geometric Shapes Braelinn Frank, an Austin-based nail artist and founder of Rave Nailz, suggests spicing up your next mani with an abstract design. Think geometric shapes, intricate swirls, or lines across the tips. “These are perfect for those who want a unique and eye-catching look,” she tells Bustle. 11 Colorful Chrome
Metallic chrome finishes have been
spotted on Zendaya and are perfect for summertime manis. You can go for an all-over effect or add a touch of chrome paint to your tips. “These are perfect for adding some extra shine to your look, and they can be paired with a wide range of outfits,” Frank says. 12 Micro Flowers
Adding a fun detail by way of a tiny flower is an easy way to decorate your nails, whether you have on a clear polish base or some neon. “Painting something like a tiny flower will be sure to spice up whatever color you have on,” says Apfel Glass.
13 Bright Jelly Nails
Queenie Nguyen says bright jelly nails are all about a sheer yet super-pigmented pop of color. The fact they’re see-through means they resemble popsicles or fruit jellies, she says, which is obviously perfect for summer. “Rock a single jelly color or be bold and wear different colors at once for a fun, Skittle nails look,” she tells Bustle. 14 Strawberry Glaze
For another take on the milky nail trend, Nguyen suggests going for a pastel strawberry pink glaze. Simply choose a pink polish of your liking and top it off with a
chrome finish for a cutesy look reminiscent of strawberry ice cream. 15 Mermaid Nails
Elle Gerstein has spotted a lot of mermaid and beach-themed manis. “It ties into the sea-inspired trends we have been seeing a lot, mostly due to the anticipation of The Little Mermaid movie,” she tells Bustle. To keep things simple, Gerstein suggests using a metallic blue nail polish to give off a deep-sea vibe. If you’re feeling artsy, ask your nail artist for an iridescent base, lots of pastels, and plenty of shells, sparkles, and gems. 16 Coquette Nails
Gerstein is also seeing coquette nails, which serve major
Bridgerton vibes. Think: embellishments, pearl details, and bows. “This trend looks great in pastels for the summer,” she tells Bustle. Sources: Rachel Apfel Glass, founder of Glosslab Juli Russell, DIY nail expert for Sally Beauty Marie Littlewood, nail expert, director at NSI Deborah Lippmann, celebrity manicurist, brand founder Ann McFerran, Glamnetic founder and CEO Braelinn Frank, nail artist, founder of Rave Nailz Mr. Luis, celebrity nail artist, educator at LeChat Nails
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This article was originally published on
March 29, 2023