Beauty

Summer nails: 13 simple yet effective nail art designs you can totally do at home

We might not be able to visit a salon, but that doesn’t mean manicures are totally off the cards. We set out to prove that nail art really needn’t be that tricky.

Right now, we’re taking our small joys where we can get them, and thankfully, our beauty routines are full of happiness-inducing moments. We’ve sought solace in the spritz of a perfume and felt a boost of energy from rubbing our thighs in grainy body scrubs, but right now, we’re finding a little mood boost in the simple act of painting our nails.

It makes sense: if you’re working from home and spending the large majority of your day looking down at your keyboard, fingertips coated in a flash of bright colour can very quickly put a smile on your face. And even if you’re not working from home, just think how much more cheerful that jubilant selfie of you and your oven-fresh banana bread will be with fun nails holding it up.

You may also like

“This nail polish is so good, I may never need to get a gel mani again”

A slick of solid colour will certainly do the trick — side note: our very simple guide will help you master nail polish application — but if you ask us, nail art is even more joy-inducing. Think a smattering of sparkly stars, rainbow-tinted tips and 70s style flowers.

But without the steady hands of a trusted manicurist, it can be all too easy to write off nail art as something you’ll never be able to achieve at home. But that’s where you’re wrong. Pare things back, simplify your design and remember that it doesn’t need to be a Picasso-standard work of art, and all of a sudden, nail art feels a lot more achievable.

That’s why we’ve collated 13 visually-pleasing but ridiculously simple nail designs we’re sure you’ll be able to do at home.

You may also like

Rainbow nails: the manicure trend sparking joy all over Instagram

Faded pastel tips

Rainbow nails have been a massive trend for some time now, but we’re especially fond of session nail artist Lauren Michelle Pires’ take on the look. Instead of block colours, she’s focussed the nail polish to the tip of the nail and used a sponge to create a faded, cloud-like texture.

You may also like

Pastel rainbow nails: the nail art trend that’s super easy to DIY

Flower power florals

Beauty influencer Melanie, aka @overglowedit, is known for her picture-perfect nail art. Here, she’s gone for a 70s vibe, with colourful florals that are deceivingly simple to recreate. Swipe to the right to see exactly how she does it. 

Retro triangles

When painting abstract shapes onto the nails, the larger the shape is, the easier it tends to be, which is why these 80s style pink and blue triangles by @paintboxnails are a good place to start for any nail art novices.

Two-tone french tips

Since we entered lockdown, nail artist Alicia Torello has taken to Instagram to walk followers through a handful of nail art tutorials. Our favourite — and mainly because it’s so straightforward — is this two-tone tip design. This is where a striping brush would definitely come in handy.

You may also like

How to make your nail polish dry faster, according to a celebrity nail artist

Chic black stars

It’s hard to tell what we love more: Betina Goldstein’s enviable collection of gold rings, or her nail art skills. Recently she’s created intricate wave patterns and cow print designs, but we love the simplicity of these tiny black stars. And thankfully, she’s filmed a very easy-to-follow tutorial, too.

Tie-dye nails

Tie-dye clothing is everywhere right now, but as @stephstonenails rightfully points out, if you don’t have the tracksuit, wear the trend on your nails. Here, she’s sponged green, blue and pink polish onto a solid white base.

Valentines-style sparkly hearts

Imarni’s sparkly heart design looks a lot more complicated than it actually is. After a base coat, follow by painting on a tiny heart in red — you can even use the tip of a pencil dipped in polish to achieve this. Then finish with a clear, glitter-laced top coat.

You may also like

“This top coat genuinely helps my nails grow and look healthy”

Glitter rings

Negative space nails are having yet another moment, which is why we especially like Alicia Torello’s glitter-ringed nail design. Use your polish to trace the outer edge of the nail, and then take a lip brush dipped in nail remover to tidy up the inside. Easy!

Simple stripes

You can easily add a little interest to a plain mani by painting a solid stripe over the top in a clashing colour. This burgundy and cornflower blue combination by @paintboxnails shouldn’t work, but it totally does.

You may also like

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

Teeny tiny stars

Have zero faith in your own hands? Rather than painting on a design, try sticking it on instead. Here, LA-based nail artist Amy Le attaches tiny star-shaped sequins onto naked nail beds. MAC does incredible holographic stars, available here.

Glitter dots

@Gelcream’s nails are so satisfyingly perfect, but we’re sure these tiny glitter dots would look great even on less well-manicured fingertips.

Muted monotones

We’ve long been fans of the gradient nail trend, largely due to the fact it takes minimal effort for maximum results. And Betina Goldstein is arguably the best at putting together chic montonal colour palettes. Case in point, this selection of muted hues.

You may also like

Sunshine yellow is Instagram’s new favourite manicure colour

Blurry base and abstract dots

Over on IGTV, nail artist Metta Francis’ shares loads of helpful nail art tutorials, including this one that really leans into those inevitable streaks. She uses a dry brushing technique, and then paints tiny dots on top to create this abstract pattern.

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

If you’re an avid Stylist fan, you’ll know it’s not always possible to find an issue of our magazine. Often they’re gone before you head into work (they disappear fast!), or you live in a part of the UK where you can’t get your hands on a copy. Add to this the fact that millions of us are not commuting right now, and we wanted to ensure you don’t miss out on the magazine any longer.

Which is why we’re delighted to let you know that Stylist magazine is now available in a digital format, both for Apple and Android users, allowing you to download the full magazine directly to your smartphone or tablet, wherever you may be.

Pricing for our digital magazine starts at just 99p for a single issue, or £21.99 for a full year’s subscription –that’s less than 50p a week! Simply click on the link to activate your Stylist app download from either the Apple store or Google Play and enjoy!

Main image: Lauren Michelle-Pires.

Topics

Share this article

Recommended by Shannon Peter

Beauty

Missing the salon? This nail polish gives gel manicures a run for their money

“It’s a bold claim, but I stand by it.”

Posted by
Shannon Peter
Published
Beauty

This easy trick will hide your outgrown gel manicure

It only takes a minute to do.

Posted by
Hanna Ibraheem
Published
Beauty

The 5 best vegan nail polish brands

Cruelty-free and uncompromising in quality.

Posted by
Nandini Shukla
Published
Beauty

This is how to remove gel nails at home – without causing damage

Do not peel them off whatever you do.

Posted by
Lucy Partington
Published