Butterfly Nails Are This Summer's Latest Take on Y2K Beauty

Here's how to try the trend.

Butterfly nail art


Find inspiration for your next manicure among the flowers—butterfly nail art has arrived, bringing fun colors and a dash of cottagecore cuteness to your nails. Summer may be rapidly disappearing, but with a butterfly mani, you can live in a perpetual state of spring.

Much like the very insect that inspired this trend, butterfly manicures come in a variety of colors and designs. The detailed, patterned wings of a butterfly might be a bit difficult for a DIY mani, but there’s plenty of potential Instagram inspiration to draw from and show your nail artist. Get ready to double tap and plan your perfect butterfly manicure, because we’re walking you through the beautiful nail trend ahead.

The Look

Take a scroll through Instagram, and you're sure to find a look that suits your personality. Butterfly nails are distinguished by their winged designs, with artwork options that either showcase the entire bug, or turn the nail itself into a miniature wing. 

The current butterfly trend likely draws its inspiration from Gen Z's favorite decade, celebrity nail artist Sonya Belakhlef theorizes. “We're constantly recycling trends (even though I feel as though butterflies are forever) and are still referencing the ‘90s—the era of butterfly clips and glitter temporary tattoos,” they said. 

LeChat Nails educator Anastasia Totty is especially fond of the design, noting it can be easily personalized. “The butterfly nail art trend is one of my favorites. These beautiful creatures are an inspiration for me as a nail artist. The multitude of colors and shapes can keep you discovering new looks with each manicure. Blues are in this year so any combination of blues and purples is a winner,” she says. 

As for potential art options, nail artist Katie Nguyen incorporated lots of sparkle into her design. She painted two adjoining fingers with pastel-colored wings. Her iridescent nail art further popped with the addition of three solid-colored nails dotted in gemstones.

Nail artist Tamami Page created this option for shorter nails. The design is especially noteworthy, as it combines multiple nail art trends for a cohesive and cute look. We’re loving how creative this look is, and that it allows you to get seriously creative with your manicure. Participating in the butterfly nail trend doesn’t require an insect on every nail, and Page’s look proves that.

Let Kylie Jenner’s collection of butterflies spur your next design. Celebrity nail artist Chaun Legend added a pretty pink butterfly to each nail. Select nails also received an added rhinestone for some extra sparkle. For Jenner’s nails, Legend used a neutral-colored base coat, but added a pop of color with the wings.

If you prefer a simpler, more butterfly-focused design, ask for a larger butterfly on each nail. This set from nail artist Hang Nguyen features bold blue butterflies on a simple nude backdrop.

Get The Look

Sadly, more intricate butterfly designs might be too difficult to replicate without the help of a nail artist. You can definitely attempt to turn your nail beds into flying creatures, but press-on nails and nail stickers are probably your best bet if you go the DIY route.

For at-home creations, Belakhelf also suggests creating a “deconstructed, paired down version that’s more geometric or suggesting a butterfly.” They also advised using decals or elements of a butterfly, like linework and dots.

If you’re making a nail appointment, Totty shared some of her go-to shades, including a light blue that's “in between a sky blue and baby blue like LeChat's T-Bird Blue ($6).” She also recommended applying a white chrome over a solid color lacquer for an aurora look that can be done at-home or by your manicurist. 

More summery versions of the trend are all about the color, but if you want to create an adaptable look for the upcoming fall season, Belakhlef advised using shades of burnt orange, deep blue, and red. 

Totty predicted that hues of blue will continue trending throughout the year. “I think you can easily transition into fall with the beautiful blues and juicy purples by just switching to a deeper variation of the shade,” she said. 

You’re officially ready to embrace the butterfly nail trend. Head to the salon to keep summer going just a little bit longer.

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