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10 Cool Nail Designs I'm Actually Going to Try This Summer

When it comes to manicures, I've found that people generally fall into two colour camps: basic but chic (reds, navy blues, nudes—you know the drill) or trending nail art (negative-space manis and glitter topcoats). Personally, cute nail designs like mismatched manis are my idea of beauty heaven, so I fall firmly into the second school of thought, which is why I'm so excited to see that nail art is trending this summer, with all of the fashion set stepping out in bold colours, floral designs and plenty of sparkle.

With so many colourful designs filling up my Instagram feed, I took a careful look through and decided which of them I'm actually going to try this summer. Keep scrolling for my top 10 summer nail-art picks—and to shop the products you'll need to re-create them at home.

1. Checkerboard

Summer nail designs: The Hang Edit perfects checkerboard nails

Photo:

@THEHANGEDIT

Easily the biggest print trend of 2021, checkerboard motifs initially began taking over our wardrobes, but now, they're proving even more popular on the nail-art circuit. Choose classic black and white, or for a summery spin, opt for pastel tones like Hang Nguyen did. The easiest way to achieve this look is to paint your nails a base colour, and then use a dotting tool or toothpick to create the squares on top of it in a contrasting colour. Once you've mastered this technique, you can try adding negative space into the equation. 

2. Mix 'n' Match

Summer nail designs: Nnenna Echem wearing bright mismatched nails

Photo:

@NNENNAECHEM

A great option for nail-art newbies—all you need for this summer nail look are five of your favourite nail polish colours. If you want the real cool-girl factor, opt for bright, bold shades, but know that this would look equally chic with muted pastels or neutrals if you want a more pared-back mani.

3. Petal Power

Floral manicures are definitely having a moment for summer 2021, but Alyssa Coscarelli's has a fashion-insider edge with real pressed flowers to create this cute effect. While I'm not suggesting we all start sticking dried petals to our nails, you can get a similar effect by painting your nails with an opaque base coat (white is great for accentuating a summer glow) and using a fine nail-art brush to paint on mini blooms.

4. Rainbow Stripes

Striped nail art is having a moment, particularly when combined with a rainbow colour palette. From half-moon rainbow stripes to those contrasted with negative space, like the gorgeous example from Betina Goldstein above, I can't wait to try this look myself. Top tip: Keep the base of your nail completely bare, or opt for a nude shade to let the rainbow stripes really pop.

5. Summer Sparkle

Turns out glitter isn't just for party season. In fact, fashion girls like Courtney Trop have been spotted stepping out with sparkling manicures, with shades like turquoise, pink and silver proving most popular. Apart from being a right pain to take off, there's something lovely about the way a glitter nail catches the light during sunshine season. If the look feels a little too "9-year-old's birthday party" for you, try a chunkier glitter over a bare nail for a subtler take.

6. Daisy Dreams

Daisies aren't just springing up on dresses and skirts this summer. They're all over the fashion set's nails too. A few years ago, it was all about the leopard-print nail, but it's well and truly about the florals now. To create this look at home, you just need a bold yellow shade to form the centre and a white polish for the petals. So cute.

7. Polka Dots

Summer nail designs: Eve with a polka dot manicure

Photo:

@EVEMEETSWEST

The thing I love most about this polka-dot nail art (besides how damn cute it looks) is that it's genuinely so easy to re-create. All you need is a nail-dotting tool—you can pick one up for a couple of pounds on Amazon or eBay—which you dip into your chosen nail polish colour and dot over bare nails. Finish with a glossy topcoat to seal your hard work in place.

8. Tutti Frutti

Summer nail designs: Olive and June showcase tutti fruitti nails

Photo:

@OLIVEANDJUNE

Much like the daisy print and polka dot, fruit prints are having a style moment in the worlds of fashion and beauty. I'm not going to lie, I'm not talented enough to re-create this on my own nails, but I'll definitely be heading to the salon and asking for this style for summer. Meanwhile, you can find some seriously cute fruit nail accessories that can be placed over a coat of wet nail polish and sealed with a topcoat for a similar effect.

9. Confetti Sprinkle

Summer nail designs: Megan Ellaby wearing confetti glitter nails

Photo:

@MEGANELLABY

We first spotted this cute nail trend back in February, and it continues to prove popular into summer. These nails definitely had a mixed reaction in the Who What Wear Slack group, but I love it. You can find plenty of confetti-flecked nail polishes on the market right now, so it's as easy as a couple of coats to get the look.

10. Foil Tips

Fashion insiders have been getting this "naked" mani for months now (it makes your nails look longer, don't you know?), but they're switching it up with foil tips for summer. This is a great option if you leave lots of time between appointments, as keeping the foil on the tips only means you can swiftly cover up any regrowth with a different shade of nail colour. 

This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated.

Opening Images: @thehangedit; @amaka.hamelijnck; @betina_goldstein; @evemeetswest

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