Stepping out of the nail salon with a set of freshly painted nails can make you feel like a new person. There's nothing like a little pampering and a fresh mani to make you feel like your best self. But it can get expensive fast, especially if you opt for some nail art.
That's why we rounded up 30 of our favorite simple and easy nail designs that you can do at home (and probably with the nail colors you already own). We're not nail artists by any means, but luckily with these looks, that doesn't matter. Whether you want to rock a set of stars along your cuticles, a tonal gradient across all 10 fingers, simple glitter stripes, or a double French mani, you're sure to find a look (or three or four) that you love.
Meet the Expert
Check out some easy nail art ideas you can do at home.
This look offers "minimal effort but maximum design," says Glamsquad's Jordan Meade. "Like art on your nails, this abstract line design gives a simple yet alluring effect." Meade offers the following tips: "Apply a thin base coat using a light polish and cure for 60 seconds. Take a fine detail brush and color of choice to draw random, freestyled swirl lines that vary in thickness. Remember art is subjective, not perfect."
In this case, less is definitely more. We love the simplicity of these neutral nails with a thin white stripe down the middle.
Play up your bare nails with a swipe of gold at the tips. Try a chunky metallic shade like L'Oréal's Colour Riche Nail Gold Dust ($6).
We love a good pastel nail look, and having multiple shade options is even better. Mirror the color order on each hand for a polished nail art look that doesn't require any tricky precision.
This nail art is almost too easy. Use a thin gold polish like FingerPaints' Striping Polish in He-Art of Gold ($4), swipe it down the center of your nails, apply a top coat, and you're good to go. The design above features stripes overtop half-painted nails, providing inspiration for a way to make your mani last longer as it grows out.
Olive & June's nail stickers make for a unique and easy mani, and it's safe to say we're impressed.
Teal and Gold
Teal and metallic gold collide in this chic design. Try a shade like Essie Go Overboard ($5) when recreating this look.
You've probably seen polka-dot nails before, but this one creates a new layer of fun. Pick a few colors to create a bunch of tiny dots all around bare nails—variation and overlap are all part of the fun here. To replicate this look, nail artist Tammy Taylor suggests first applying Flawless Foundation Gel Base Coat ($29) and allowing to cure before adding designs. "Using the Tammy Taylor Dotting Tool ($7), New Flame Gelegance Gel Polish ($21) and Fresh n Fruity Gelegance Gel Polish($21), create a dotted smile line in the middle of the nail, alternating colors," she adds. "Repeat this process by filling in gaps down the nail. Cure."
The colored stripes make this neutral mani fun and interesting, while remaining simple enough for both execution purposes and more conservative settings. Nail stripe stickers can make achieving this look even easier. To achieve interesting shapes, like curves or lines, Taylor suggests using the Tammy Taylor Striper Brush ($20).
The impact of this manicure far outweighs the time it takes to achieve it. No metallic or color combo is off limits with this simple, chic style.
The contrast between the yellow base and blue dots really makes this look from Paintbox pop. These dots are 3D, but a contrasting polish will also provide a bold impact if you're not looking to shop for extra baubles.
Spice up your summery white mani with a strip of metallic blue. We love China Glaze Nail Lacquer in Can You Sea Me? ($5).
Purple on purple totally works here. Different shades of the same tone are always a good choice for a polished, understated take on nail art.
The unique color combo is what drew us to this two-toned nail design, and achieving the look is as simple as letting your first shade set, then applying the second diagonally across half the nail. The baby blue reminds us of Essie's Bikini So Teeny ($7).
Sprinkle of Glitter
Get this sparkly yet understated look by using a sponge to press on glitter from the lower left corner, tapering into nothing. Set with a clear coat and bam—instant party nail art.
We're totally here for this twist on the two-tone manicure. Each nail is a little bit different, which keeps things interesting.
A Sleek Swoop
Shift your French tip to the corner of your nail for a modern take on the classic manicure. Stick with a pastel shade or go bolder with bright rainbow hues. "A base coat is optional with this design since all the flare is at the tip," says Meade. "Choose five different colors–one for each nail, and use the polish brush to create a curved slope starting at the corner of your nail. Keep some acetone handy to clean up the curved line with another brush. Just like that, a pop of color is all you need to stand out."
Black and White
If you're not a fan of bright colors on your nails, this easy nail art idea is a stunning choice. We love how the thin black stripe adds dimension to the white base, creating a design that's super versatile.
Bejewel your nails for a minimum-effort, maximum-impact design. Grab some sparklers and get to gluing.
This simple pastel mani got a major upgrade. Add a triangle of tonal foil to your go-to nail polish shade to emulate this beautiful style.
Nail Wave Nouveau
Throw in a curve to give a half-and-half mani a playful twist. Stick to all one shade as a base, or skip it in favor of a clear base coat for a negative-space moment that will make everyone positively jealous.
Negative Space Stunners
If you want to rock a head-turning manicure but don't have the patience to sit and paint all your nails, consider this black and white half-and-half mani that confines the color to just two nails. Recreate the look using striping tape to trace clean lines for your base color, then finish with dots of contrasting black or white polish.
Polka Dot Party
We've shown you plenty of variations on this theme, but there's still room for a classic polka dot pattern in your easy nail art arsenal. If you look closely, these delicate dots are actually specks from a confetti polish—all the better to make a fun look even easier.
Your nails can look like an actual piece of Yayoi Kusama's modern art with minimal effort. Simply start with a bright, dandelion-yellow base, then finish with black dots in varying sizes—no need to stress about uniformity here.
Embellished French Tips
Here's another option for all the French manicure lovers out there. Adorn the center of the nail with whatever design you want. The witchy decals in this mani are making us long for Halloween all year long.
If you're not one to get crafty with intricate nail art ideas but still crave an eye-catching design, check out this gradient option. With a different blue shade on each nail, it's a dreamy contrast we can't stop staring at. If you're not sure which shades of blue will pair well together, ask your nail technician.
Daisies are giving us serious mid-'90s, Clueless vibes—your nails will be the envy of everyone you flash with the "Whatever" hands. This example uses a few negative space designs underneath the daisies, but you can go as simple or complex as you want and be sure the flowers will shine.
Add a boost of joy to your solid mani with some easy nail art that smiles back. The eyes on this Chillhouse design are purposefully squiggly, so there's no need to worry about perfectly straight application.