Beauty

How to master gradient nails, 2020’s ultimate nail trend

Posted by
Ava Welsing-Kitcher
Published

Forget rainbow nails, it’s time to go tonal. Stylist delves into the grown-up trend that’s soothing to the soul.  

Recently, you may have spotted a different kind of nail trend taking over your Instagram feed. While pearl embellishments and tortoiseshell paint jobs are definitely having a moment, many of us have been opting for something more understated. Enter: tonal manicures, the perfect trend for the indecisive among us.

As a nod to spring and summer’s playful pastel and rainbow frenzy, it involves wearing different shades within the same colour family. 

“Tonal nails are a grown-up and minimalist way to express personal style,” says Tina Michael, founder of Shoreditch Nails, which has seen a surge in tonal requests. “It’s the perfect way to accessorise your outfits, especially as tonal dressing is such a thing right now.” 

There’s a reason the gradient has such an oddly satisfying allure, and not just because it removes the element of decision. If you’ve ever gazed at a wall of paint swatches for longer than strictly necessary, it’s because a group of tonal shades strikes a chord within us.

“While statement, standout colours are powerful in their own right, there’s something about the harmony of coordinated tones,” explains Ruth Mottershead, marketing director at luxury paint showroom Little Greene. “Harmony is soothing to the soul, and an array of harmonious shades resonates with our senses and reminds us of the same palettes we see in nature.” That explains our universal love for colour coordinated bookshelves, too. 

You may also like

The 90s French manicure has made a huge comeback, but with a modern twist

Happily for your bank account, it’s likely you’ll have two or three shades in your collection already. Pick three or four from the same family and add white to your pinky nail to lighten the shade on top – or blend your own custom hue on a piece of paper.

The bit that requires the most effort is creating the palette, but we’ve done the hard work for you by selecting five of the most satisfying colourways. Prepare to be on-trend and smugly serene. 

Berry Picking

Sunset Strip

Warm Welcome

From left to right: Mavala Nail Colour in Ivory Beige, £5.20; Essie Nail Lacquer in Clothing Optional, £7.99 (mixed with white); Sally Hansen Keratin Strong Nail Colour in Mauve Along, £7.99; Kiko Smart Nail Lacquer in Rouge Noir, £2.50; J Hannah Seven-Free Nail Polish in Artichoke, £20

Keep It Cool

Marine Life

Sign up for our essential edit of what to buy, see, read and do, and also receive our 11-page Ultimate Guide To Making Your Home Feel Bigger.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

All images: Pixeleyes

Topics

Share this article

Author

Ava Welsing-Kitcher

Recommended by Ava Welsing-Kitcher

Beauty

The 90s French manicure has made a huge comeback, but with a modern twist

Margot Robbie is one of many celebrities that have worn the retro trend.

Posted by
Hanna Ibraheem
Published
Beauty

Nail art master Marian Newman on why she doesn't follow ‘trends’ - and 6 designs explained

No fancy equipment required, you can try these nail art designs from home.

Posted by
Ava Welsing-Kitcher
Published
Beauty

The Stylist beauty team's favourite London salons for nail art

You can get everything from tortoiseshell to ombre and even crystals.

Posted by
Ava Welsing-Kitcher
Published
Beauty

The milk-inspired nail trends to try this season

They suit all skin tones, too

Posted by
Becci Vallis
Published