17 Colorful Ombré Nail Ideas You Need To Try This Summer

Maximalist color FTW.

Summer and ombré go hand in hand — just look at the different shades of blue in the ocean, those pinky-orange sunsets, and the Mai Tai cocktails people sip while lounging poolside. That’s exactly why you should opt for some summer ombré nails once the weather starts heating up, which allows you to channel that gorgeous color blending right on your fingertips.

The mani look might have been the most popular trend in previous years, but don’t think it’s a thing of the past. “Ombré is always current, there are just different ways for it to be displayed,” says celebrity nail artist Elle Gerstein. Technically, she explains that the word ombré simply means “a color that fades into another.” While the true technique is the actual blending of one color into a different shade so seamlessly that there are no definitive lines, you could cheat the effect with something like an ombré-style Skittles manicure, says Gerstein.

A fair warning for those attempting an at-home manicure: For true ombré nails, achieving the look may sound easier than it actually is (Gerstein says it’s the hardest technique to achieve and is very time-consuming). If you’re using gel polish, tickle the colors with an ombré brush to blend the lines, and be patient because it could take 15 to 30 minutes per nail. If you decide to use regular nail lacquer, Gerstein recommends layering the color on a sponge, stamping it multiple times to deposit the color, then using clear polish on top to blend it.

If you don’t have the time or patience for either one of those methods, keep reading for Gerstein’s DIY nail art tips for how to hack your way to the ombré effect as well as cool designs to try this summer.


Tropical Flowers

If you’re having trouble blending or you just don’t want to take the time to make it look perfect, Gerstein has the best trick: Paint a sheer, fine glitter over the top to blur the lines, as shown here on these sparkly hibiscus flower nails. (You could also do the effect on just one accent nail, as these demonstrate.)


Rainbow Tips

Another easy (well, easier) way to get the ombré look is with a technique Gerstein calls “milk bath.” After you’ve painted with your color, use a sheer white or sheer pink on top to give it a milky, watered-down look as you fade it out.


Horizontal Ombré

If you want to transition from a dark shade to a lighter shade of the same color, Gerstein recommends starting with the darkest color and adding white to it. Gradually add more and more white to the mixture as you paint to create that gradient effect.


Skittle Nails

Here’s another example of mixing white with darker nail polish to make a range of shades — only this time, you’ll paint each shade on a separate nail (Gerstein calls this the “Skittle nail”) to create an overall ombré effect across the whole hand.


Maximalist Color

Another option is to pick totally different colors for your ombré combos. Take the look shown here, for instance, which features colors like green fading into yellow and red into orange for a vibrant and gorgeous manicure.


Ombré Stripe

If minimalist nail art better suits your style, keep it simple with neutral nails and add only a sliver of vibrant ombré color. A single accent nail like this will save you all the extra time, too.


Ombré French Tips

You can’t make a list of summer nail ideas without neon colors in the mix. This look gives the classic French mani an update with lime green and bright turquoise polish accenting asymmetrical tips.


Cotton Candy Colors

Pastel nail polish isn’t just for spring. This bright blend of lilac and periwinkle has summer written (er, painted) all over it.


Sunrise-Inspired Gradient

One of the trendiest nail polish colors for summer is orange, and Gerstein’s favorite way to wear it is with LeChat Orange Crush. Get this sunrise-inspired look by blending the tangerine shade into an apricot color at the base.


Vertical Pink Ombré

Don’t be afraid to play around with the direction of your ombré effect. This vertical version of the trend is still eye-catching. If you’re not great at blending, choose two similar colors that are the slightest bit different.


Yellow Neutral Nails

Gerstein also loves anything yellow for summer, and when you pair the loud color with a more subdued base, you get the perfect minimalist set of tips like this one.


Chrome Jelly Nails

You can rock the ombré look with the also trendy jelly and chrome nail styles. To achieve this, Gerstein likes to blend your color of choice into clear and then use a clear chrome powder on top. If that sounds a little too advanced for you, just take this photo to your nail tech — it’ll be worth a trip to the salon.


Ombré Jelly Tips

You don’t need clear nail extensions to get the jelly look. Use a sheer polish like Cirque Colors Peach Jelly and the sponge trick for a transparent wash of color.


Jewel Tones

Hello, vacation nails: This metallic ombré mani was made for your next beach trip.


Ombré Waves

If you’re feeling up for the challenge, these summer ombré waves are worth all the time and effort. Change up the color combo on each nail to make it even cooler.


Summer Sunset

Combine your ombré mani with cloud nails for the ultimate summer set. Pro tip: You can use the clouds to cover up any imperfections.


Ombré Coffin Nails

Not great at painting with both hands? Find a pair of press-ons you like, such as these chic coffin-shaped tips, and paint them before you glue them on to make it easier.