Nail art used to be so Y2K. Remember side buns, frosted lip color, and clear blow-up furniture? Maybe a Buffy The Vampire Slayer poster hanging over our lip-shaped corded phone? Slap some stickers on the nails, a layer of clear coat, and we’re, like, totally cute, right?
Luckily, nail art has come a long way. While we won’t shun a chic, quality decal, we now have UV-cured gel and powder dip colors that adhere for long-lasting power manis — and a new wave of modern art to thank for our latest designs in nail couture.
It’s a whole new mode of expression: Some go for claws, others for the coffin shape, and still others for a square nail — or our favorite amalgamation, the “squoval.” There’s rounded, almond, short, aggressively long — it’s an authentic indicator of personal style and lifestyle, and we wholeheartedly believe that self-expression is liberating.
Plus, we think having your nails done makes your whole world a little brighter — you know, if you’re into that sort of thing. Think of it as a moment of mental self-care, and a time for creating beauty within your universe. If you need a personal moment via manicure and are looking for some inspiration, we scrolled through the ‘gram to find our most beloved manis. Here are some of our favorite picks.
Mismatched nails aren’t just whimsical; they offer freedom of expression that isn’t limited. We’re loving these earthy tones that make this edgy statement a subtle, tonal look that goes with everything — while still keeping ‘em on their toes.
Rainbow French mani is in, and classic French mani is … well it’s fine, but it’s hard to go back once you’ve gone rainbow. It elongates the nail and adds a touch of color, while still offering a put-together, natural look.
These retro meets Pink Floyd nails are undoubtedly badass. This isn’t the only direction, but it’s inspo to take your nails on a journey through your interests — like this major rock n roll look. A little album cover art never hurt anyone.
This look, which we’re calling Sky, is designed with clouds as sweet and innocent as a daydream — and make a bold blue even sweeter. A mani that reminds us to take a moment to lie on the grass and take in the clouds? Yes, please.
Ying & yang is all about balance, and Amé is all about harmony — why shouldn’t our mani reflect that?
We adore a good Spectrum contrast, and this mellow mustard yellow and lilac just screams late spring, early summer. The abstract design that lets in some natural nail adds to the feminine, earthy elements that we adore.
Deeper Earth Tones aren’t just for autumn. The tortoise-shell design keeps things classy, but adds texture.
This Watercolor mani with one matte, nude nail was a statement we couldn’t keep our eyes off. The intrigue, the mystery, the surprise… it’s all here in this creative set.
This Rising Rainbow design is playful and soft, without overdoing it on the color. It’s unexpected, but lets a little inner child shine through.
This Mixed-Media is a fun contrast when we just can’t decide. Why should we have to choose, when we can have both? Now that’s something to smile about.
Paisley French tips are taking us back to the 90s. We’re thinking fitted maxi skirts with a cropped tank and a hair scarf, complete with some tiny purple tinted glasses!
This super-femme, slightly exaggerated oval-shaped French tip stands out with a soft pastel.
A Tonal Spectrum is a fun way to explore a colorway, using a wheelhouse of shades that complement each other in a way that feels good. You can go for colors that would align on the spectrum, or totally surprise yourself. The fun is in the mismatch.