Over the past year or so, nail art has really hit the big time. We saw bright colours, bold checkerboards and psychedelic swirls reign supreme in the nail world last spring/summer. In 2022, however, there’s the start of a nail design revolution bubbling away. Yep, we’re ready to bid adieu to bold, bright, in-your-face designs and welcome some understated subtlety in the form of small and delicate, but impactful, creations.
Long gone are the days of understated nails being boring—nowadays, we’re talking intricate, fine art-like designs that require an expert hand. And the truth is, with at-home LED lamps available and masses of gel polishes on offer, many of us are wanting something bigger and better from our in-salon nail appointments—something we can’t do ourselves at home. And it’s for this reason that delicate, understated designs are having such a moment.
To load you up with inspo ahead of your next nail appointment, we have scrolled through Instagram for many hours to compile an extensive list of the prettiest and chicest delicate nail designs. So go on, keep scrolling.
1. Micro Hearts
A polished French mani with tiny hearts? Count us in. If you're not sure whether you want to fully commit, look for red heart nail stickers and add them to your salon-fresh, French manicure at home.
Crank things up a notch by incorporating a heart design with a modern take on the French manicure. Red and pink never looked so good.
If red isn't your thing, this delicate design by Harriet Westmoreland serves up the sort of black heart we wouldn't mind having.
This understated nail design is ideal for lazy girls or for those that struggle to find the time to get down to the salon. A sheer base coat with a simple gold dot in the centre looks elegant and disguises any major signs of grow-out.
Team a colourful skinny French manicure with a contrasting dot at the cuticle for a fun, but simple, look.
Definitely one for your nail tech, these fine waves are created with tiny metallic dots, and we couldn't be more obsessed.
3. Fine Lines
It turns out line drawings look just as beautiful on nails as they do hung on the wall. This understated by artfully executed design suits virtually all nail shapes and lengths.
We're always looking for ways to up our French manicure game and we think a super-fine line at the base of the nail is the perfect way to do so.
We might still be fighting beating winds and cold climes, but this statement line design is giving us all of the summer holiday feels.
This fine line, gold halo design is sitting front and centre of our nail art inspiration board this season.
4. Negative Space
Negative space nails have been on the rise for a few seasons now and this year they're taking off big time. A simple, silver angular design like this one is easy to execute and looks great on everyone.
Sage green is having a moment and with this negative space mani in mind, we can totally see ourselves buying into the trend.
A different take on the classic french manicure, this design is a twofer, serving negative space and fine line dreaminess all at once.
5. Evil Eye
What says fresh summer mani better than tiny evil eye accents on perfectly preened and polished nails?
For a bolder take on the trend, swap out a white polish for a shimmering silver and apply your evil eyes randomly on each nail.
6. Skinny French
That's right, the skinny French isn't going anywhere, not if we have anything to say about it at least. Pastel rainbow tips like these ones make for the ultimate spring manicure.
Super-thin, silver glitter tips? Consider us sold. Not only does it look seriously fresh, but a silver glitter also works all year round.
What's a 2022 mani without incorporating Pantone's colour of the year, Very-Peri? A periwinkle-hued skinny French is top of our list when it comes to delicate mani designs to try.
7. Yin & Yang
Downsize the traditional yin and yang nail design big time with a fresh, teeny-tiny accent just like this one.
White is one of the most versatile and chic nail colours around, so why not amplify its beauty with a statement yin and yang design on one nail?
If monochrome designs aren't your thing, yin and yang designs can also be created with negative space (and look particularly great when paired with a popping bright on other nails).
A starred manicure can certainly be hit or miss, but these black accents of varying sizes on a bare nail hits the mark.
If you'd rather keep your star details micro, apply stickers or small pieces of star confetti to your existing manicure and seal with a clear top coat.