Rainbow Nails Are Everywhere: Here's How to Take Part in the Trend

Updated 06/10/19
Kseniia Barlit​ / Getty Images 

If you’ve scrolled through your Instagram feed lately, you may have noticed that plain, single-shade manicures are being outnumbered by mismatched nails bursting with a variety of colors. And with celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Blake Lively getting in on the multi-colored trend, it’s no wonder that you, too, may want to try your hand (er, nails) at it.

To help you rock the look for yourself, I took a dive down Instagram’s rainbow rabbit hole to find some of the Internet’s very best takes on the popular nail craze. So, without further ado, keep scrolling for 20 of my favorite rainbow nail art ideas, along with tips on how to bring them to life.

01 of 20

Negative Space Rainbow Half Moons

Love a minimalist mani but want a taste of rainbow nail art? This is the design for you. To create it, use a fine-pointed dotting tool (the white one from this HiMo 5-Piece Manicure Kit ($5) on Amazon works wonders) to gently draw your lines, one color at a time.

02 of 20

Rainbow Tie-Dye

It’s no secret that tie-dye is having a major moment. From shirts and skirts to leggings and, now, manicures, the world is falling for the swirly rainbow designs. These, which are some of hairstylist Justine Marjan’s faves, are the brainchild of LA-based manicurist Kim Truong. Luckily for us, she shares exactly how to recreate them here.

03 of 20

Rainbow Squiggles

A simple mani can still make a major statement. Just look at this rainbow rendition. Best of all, it’s easy to DIY. Simply use a dotting tool or nail striper brush (like an Artisan Grand Master Nail Art Efex Brush ($9)) to paint the colors of your choice across a classic nude mani. For more of a pop, try a white base instead.  

04 of 20

Rainbow, But Make It Abstract

If you’re one to believe in the beauty of imperfection, you’ll swoon over this abstract rainbow nail art idea. Start with a white base and layer it with different rainbow lines on each nail without a single worry towards whether or not it looks flawless. Just remember to top it off with a top coat (I dig the Smith & Cult Above It All Top Coat ($18)) so that your semi-messy masterpiece doesn’t chip.

05 of 20

Cloudy With a Chance of Rainbows

Brooklyn-based manicurist Primp & Polish is the mastermind behind this negative space nail moment. But you don’t have to be a pro to recreate it. Start with a slightly-tinted base coat, like the Tenoverten The Foundation Base Coat ($18). Next, paint three curved lines diagonally across your nail with striping brushes or a dotting tool. Once those lines have dried, add a drop of white paint on the tip of your nail. Use a dotting tool to fluff it out into a cute little cloud. So simple, right?

06 of 20

Kesha-Inspired Rainbow Nails

Remember in 2017 when Kesha’s “Praying” music video was released and the whole world collectively lost their ish? Well, along with thought-provoking lyrics came a seriously good rainbow mani. To cop the look, start with a layer of white polish so that you won’t have to do as many coats for the other colors to show up. Starting at the base of your nail, use a dotting brush to create the smallest arc of the rainbow and work your way outwards, changing colors as you go.

07 of 20

Shimmering Rainbow Stripes

So sparkly and, believe it or not, so simple to recreate. Start by applying a base coat and painting anywhere from two to four different colored stripes on each nail. Instead of using a classic clear top coat, opt for Chantecaille's Celestial Nail Sheer Topcoat ($28). And, just like that, your shimmering rainbow mani is ready for its grid debut.

08 of 20

Minimalist Rainbow

Fancy the first minimalist rainbow nail art in this roundup but want a little more? This multi-colored mani features the same segmented rainbow lines in addition to a rainbow-tipped statement nail. If you’re not confident in your ability to paint with a steady hand (or touch-up with a brush afterward), no worries! Try using Orly’s French Manicure White Tip Guides ($5).

09 of 20

Rainbow Heart Tips

Love is love and let’s be real; I’m head over heels for this rainbow heart mani. Begin by filing your nails into an ever-so-slight point. Next, apply a base coat and paint on a double-scalloped tip in the color of your choice to serve as the arches of your heart. Repeat the process on every nail, switching colors as you go. Next, outline your hearts with silver or gold glitter polish; you can’t go wrong with Morgan Taylor’s Fame Game Nail Polish ($10) or Glitter & Gold Nail Polish ($10).

10 of 20

Rainbow Tips

If minimalist nails are a must in your maximally busy life, look no further than these rainbow tips. The bold colors and negative space make for a simple, yet eye-catching end look you’ll want to wear all summer long.

11 of 20

Star-Studded Rainbow

Donne and Ginny Geer, the sisters behind Hey, Nice Nails! on Instagram, are two of my favorite manicurists to follow. I mean, just look at this mismatched rainbow mani. While everyone and their mother (or, rather, BFF) is hopping on the multi-colored nail trend, the Geer sisters take it a step further with tiny star accents that look more complicated than they really are. Get this: they’re single pieces of star confetti secured with topcoat.

12 of 20

Wavy Rainbow Tips

BRB, making a mani appointment stat. These rainbow nails take it up a notch with a two-toned approach to every color of the rainbow. The result? A negative space mani I need, like, now.

13 of 20

Rainbow Dots

Remember candy buttons? You know, the super sweet and colorful candies from childhood? Well, that’s what this polka dot mani reminds me of. Start with a base of white polish and use your dotting tools or a toothpick to perfect the dotted details.

14 of 20

Rainbow Mismatched Mani

A different color on every nail may seem childish, but take a look around; nowadays it’s one of the most requested manicures. If you tend to have trouble choosing colors, make it easy on yourself by picking up Sally Hansen’s Xtreme Wear Pride Nail Color Collection ($17). With six different bold colors, you’ll have fun mixing and matching your mani into existence.

15 of 20

Inverted Rainbow

I don’t know about you, but this nail art reminds me of an infrared heat map, and I’m not mad at it. What really elevates the design is how it’s inverted from accent nail to accent nail. Plus, that means only two nails per hand will require extra TLC to create.

16 of 20

Oh-So-Many Stripes

Santa Monica-based manicurist Katie Masters brought these technicolor talons to life. While she’s not currently taking new clients, she does regularly post new nail looks to inspire your next DIY design. Case in point: These super stripey rainbow nails. To perfect the sharp edges of the fine lines, be sure to stock up on nail tape (like China Glaze’s SoEasy Stripe ‘Em Tape ($11)). You’ll thank me later.

17 of 20

Hot and Cold Mismatched Mani

Here we have a hot and cold approach to mismatched nails and yet another must-have on my list. Where most mismatched manis feature multiple colors in no particular order, these focus on hot and cold colors for a nail look that screams cool style on a hot summer day. In other words, yes, please.

18 of 20

French Rainbow

Excuse me while I swoon over Insta-famous manicurist Park Eunkyung’s rainbow masterpiece. This thick, multi-colored take on a classic was created with gel lacquers and, get this, no stencils whatsoever. While your hand may not be that steady (I know mine’s not), you can score the look with curved striping tape and a little patience.

19 of 20

Rainbow Jewels

These bedazzled beauties are the product of manicurist Jessica Washick’s imagination and patience. Each jewel was hand-placed for a one-of-a-kind mani that I must wear at least once in my life. Feel the same? Thought so. And that means one thing: It’s time to head to Michael’s bead section.

20 of 20

Rainbow Brites

Last, but most definitely not least, we have these pretty pastel rainbow nails. The trick to painting the ombre accents is to mix your paints before applying them to your nail. Add a few drops right next to each other on a plate so that the edges melt together. Use a sponge to pick up the polish and gently tap it on your nail. From there, paint the solid border, and you’re good to go.

Next, check out 13 nail designs that prove black and red make for the perfect manicure, because there’s no such thing as too much nail inspo.

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