20 Chic Ideas For Tortoiseshell Nails

From French tips to maximalist designs.

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Animal prints are an easy go-to for nail art enthusiasts wanting to spice up a basic manicure. From zebra print to cheetah spots, they never go out of style. One mani design, in particular, that happens to be everywhere — as it should be because it is stunningly chic — are tortoiseshell nails.

The tortoiseshell design gives nails a certain type of depth that is just so mesmerizing to look at. It’s a complex mix of multi-tone swirls that somehow can be used in multiple ways and pretty much go with everything. You can opt for classic full-coverage tortoiseshell nails (which are striking on their own if you just want something that’s one and done) or incorporate the unique design into some beloved nail art, such as the classic French manicure, minimal graphic lines, and more. Whether you want just a hint of tortoiseshell or want to go full-on and cover all your nails in this fun print, there is a look you’re sure to love.

If you’ve been wanting to get in on this trend, the time is now. Below are 20 of the most mesmerizing ways to wear tortoiseshell nails. Scroll down to find the right one for you to show your manicurist at your next nail appointment.


Half Moons

An easy way to make a tortoiseshell print look more dynamic is by keeping the bottom of the nail bare in a half-moon shape. On a long almond-shaped nail, it’s especially pretty to look at.


French Tips

Take the more minimal route and opt for a classic French manicure. Draw on a thin rounded tip and mix in a sleek black tip for a nice combo.


Pop Of Green

Another way to elevate tortoiseshell nails is to add a pop of color that just subtly peeks out. This dark lime green shade provides a stark contrast against a loud print for a fun bold mani.


Gold Lining

Stumped on what to mix with tortoiseshell print? Adding gold outlines on the outer edges and a single line on top is an easy and chic way to make them look a little more special.


White Swirls

Add a classic winter white in a graphic swirl design with tortoiseshell print for the perfect winter nail art design.


Flower Decals

Florals for spring no more. Add adorable flower stickers on a pale tortoiseshell background to make them really pop.


Cozy Mix & Match

Perfect for the cold weather, mix shades of maroon, black, and tortoise print. The unexpected pop of bold print makes this manicure exciting and fun.


Glossed Up

No need to put a unique spin on tortoiseshell print. Topped with a super glossy shine, the classic look is still striking.


Island Vibes

Bright blue floral designs on top of tortoiseshell French tips make for the perfect vacation nails. Remember it whenever you book your next tropical getaway.


Pierced Details

If your vibe is something edgier, opt for hooking nail rings and other piercings at the tips of a tortoiseshell French manicure. These silver floral and star stickers are a nice added touch.


Neon Undertones

In a reverse half moon, paint the bottom of your nail (this highlighter shade is especially striking) a bold color to contrast nicely with the rest of the tortoiseshell print.


Pearl It Out

These pearl details are so dainty and delicate that you’ll want to wear with your tortoiseshell French manicure all year round.


Gold Foil

Dress up a full-coverage tortoiseshell print with gold foil layered all over to make your nails shine a little extra.


Heart Tips

A unique spin on the classic rounded French manicure shape, heart-shaped tortoiseshell tips are a more romantic look.


Minimal Lines

Adding sleek minimal lines in a neon shade gives French tips more dimension.


Vibing Out

Mix white and tortoiseshell swirls for a mesmerizing manicure.


Going Halfies

Split your nail in half with a tortoiseshell print on one side and a neutral nail on the other. Draw a bright neon line down the middle for an unexpected pop.


Tortoiseshell Love

Make the print the focal point of your manicure by dressing up a matte black nail with hearts.


Flaming Hot

Embrace chaos and mix tortoiseshell print with hot pink and highlighter yellow flame designs. Is it over-the-top? Sure, but it’s a maximalist manicure that everyone will love.


Pure Magic

Why settle for one fun design when you can have them all? Paint on French tips, star decals, and different shades for a truly magical manicure.

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