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

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 multicolored 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 18 of my favorite rainbow nail art ideas, along with tips on how to bring them to life.

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Negative Space Rainbow Half-Moons

Rainbow half-moon nail design


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.

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Rainbow Tie-Dye

Tie-dye rainbow nails


It’s no secret that tie-dye is having a major moment. From shirts and skirts to leggings and now manicures, the world is yet again 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.

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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.  

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Cloudy With a Chance of Rainbows

Rainbow nails with clouds


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 Tenoverten's 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?

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Rainbow Accent Nails

Light blue manicure with rainbow accent nails


The beauty of this mani is that you can make your base color whatever you want and it won't affect the look of the accent rainbow. Pictured here is a sky blue hue that reminds us where rainbows actually come from.

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Shimmering Glass Rainbow

Though this is more of an intricate mani, we can't get over the shimmering, sparkly perfection it exudes. Instead of using a classic clear top coat, opt for a shimmering formula and, just like that, your glitzy rainbow mani is ready for its grid debut.

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Minimalist Rainbow

Minimalist pink and rainbow nails


Fancy the first minimalist rainbow nail art in this roundup but want a little more? This multicolored 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).

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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.

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Star-Studded Rainbow

Starry Rainbow Nails


While everyone and their mother (or, rather, BFF) is hopping on the multicolored nail trend, this mani takes it a step further with star accents that bring the rainbow to life.

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Dripped Rainbow

Rainbow-colored paint drip nail art


BRB, making a mani appointment, stat. These dripped rainbow nails take it up a notch with dots and drips of every color of the rainbow. The result? A head-turning mani we need right now.

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Rainbow Dots

Rainbow dots manicure


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 cream polish and use your dotting tools to perfect the dotted details.

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Rainbow Mismatched Mani

A different color on every nail may seem bold, but take a look around; it’s now 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 Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear #Pride Collection ($4). With seven different bold colors to choose from, you’ll have fun mixing and matching your mani into existence.

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Ombre Rainbow

Ombre rainbow nails in sunset tones


I don’t know about you, but this nail art reminds me of an infrared heat map, and I’m not mad at it. The rainbow of neon sunset hues really elevates the design.

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Oh-So-Many Stripes

Manicure with neutral base and rainbow stripe designs in multiple directions


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 stripe-filled 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.

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Hot and Cold Mismatched Mani

Hot and cold rainbow gradient nails


Here we have a hot and cold approach to mismatched nails, which is yet another must-have on my list. Whereas 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.

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French Rainbow

Rainbow French manicure with negative space half moons


Excuse me while I swoon over Insta-famous manicurist Park Eunkyung’s rainbow masterpiece. This thick, multicolored 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.

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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 the Michael’s bead section.

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Rainbow Brites

Retro wavy rainbow nails


Last, but most definitely not least, we have these pretty pastel rainbow nails. The trick to painting the ombré 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. From there, use a sponge to pick up the polish and gently tap it on your nail.

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