25 Simple Nail Designs That Are Elegant, Sleek, and Beginner-friendly

Be your own manicurist.

simple manicure


There's nothing wrong with simple. In fact, simple and easy can be nice and relaxing—nail art included. Sometimes the coolest art isn't the kind with an elaborate decal or a mix of different bright colors. No, sometimes the nail designs that we love—and quite possibly need—are the quietest type. Think negative space, small dots, French tips, fresh colors, glitter accents, and more.

To help you plan for your next nail look, we searched high and low for the best simple nail art ideas. With the polish colors of your choice, base coat, top coat, decorating tools, and this list of mani looks, you'll be a DIY nail pro in no time. Ahead, find 25 simple nail designs to try now.

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Abstract Shapes

Simple Nail Designs Abstract Shapes


This graphic look is a cinch to create. To start, use the corner of some tape to create a stencil for the square edges, or freehand it if you're feeling confident. Seal everything with a top coat et voilà!

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Solar Eclipse Nails

Simple Nail Designs Solar Eclipse


Jin Soon Choi made this look to celebrate a solar eclipse, and her concept is clear: Just like the moon covering the sun, one color gradually covers the other over the course of five nails. To replicate the look, use two colors that offer a stark contrast.

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Starry Details

Simple Nail Designs Stars


If you want to dress up a nude nail in a subtle way, try sticking a star decal or two on one finger of each hand. Using a black design makes it especially bold.

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Sparse Sparkle

Simple Nail Designs Sparkle


This chic placement of glitter polish couldn't be easier to accomplish. We love the gold paired with an unconventional pale blue. To replicate the look, apply a clear polish at the bottom curve of each nail and sprinkle nail glitter or gold foil over top, so it only sticks to one area of the nail.

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Gold Accents

Simple Nail Designs Gold Accents


We love this simple nail design from Paintbox because of the pretty contrast between matte and metallic shades. The triangle peeking out from the side is an interesting twist.

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Foil Flecks

Simple Nail Designs Foil Flecks


For a head-turning nail look that doesn't require loads of time to create, check out this foil-flecked mani. Paint your nails with a chunky glitter polish like Smith & Cult's Glass Souls ($18). Try a matching eyeshadow to create a monochromatic beauty look from head to fingertips.

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Glitter Stripes

Simple Nail Designs Glitter Stripes


It doesn't get more simple than drawing a line down the middle of your nail. To elevate the look, choose a neutral color for your base and a fun finish like bright blue glitter for the line. Try putting the line down the center of each nail for an especially fun look.

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Glitz and Glam

Simple Nail Designs Glitter


These negative space half-moon nails are a great option any time of year, especially if a party is on the agenda. To DIY the look, use Butter London Glazen Peel-Off Glitter Lacquer ($12) in shades Gold Rush and Supernova.

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Edgy Swoops

Simple Nail Designs Swoops


If you want something a little edgier, curve the line. Have it start at the top of the nail instead of the bottom, and don't draw it out all the way. 

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Celestial Magic

Simple Nail Designs Celestial


Enhance a basic black manicure with the addition of a simple star. You can choose whether to leave it as an accent nail or embrace celestial vibes all over.

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Overlapping Circles

Simple Nail Designs Overlapping Circles


This simple nail art is minimal in the most fun way. Leave your entire nail polish-free except for two circles overlapping each other on the side, top, or bottom of your nail. Use a pair of nail stickers to make it super easy or try creating the circles freehand.

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Tortoiseshell Tips

Simple Nail Designs Tortoiseshell French


Consider this one of many ways to reimagine a classic French manicure. Add a thin gold line along the edge of the design if you want a subtle sparkle.

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Simple Nail Designs Yayoi Kusama Dots


These simple dotted nails make us think about one of our favorite artists, Yayoi Kusama. The varying size of each dot creates extra interest in the manicure without making it any more difficult to recreate. Dip a toothpick in black polish to bring this museum-worthy mani to life.

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Half and Half

Simple Nail Designs Half and Half


Why paint each nail with one color when you can make a major impact with two? This nail art is super easy to recreate, too. Simply use tape to create a sharp stencil to paint against and gently peel it off once the polish dries. Cover your entire nail with top coat and be on your merry way.

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Tiny French Tips

Simple Nail Designs Tiny French


This minimalist manicure comes together with a thin swipe of color along the edge of each nail. The brown shade here is a modern way to approach a classic French tip while remaining just as demure.

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Paint Splatters

Simple Nail Designs Paint Splatter


If you've ever attempted a polka dot manicure only to find it's hard to keep polish from spreading out unevenly, this design will let you give yourself a break. The splatter designs against a clear background look ultra-cool, no uniformity required.

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Confetti Dots

Simple Nail Designs Confetti Dot


If the question is confetti nails, the answer is always yes. Do an accent nail with the rest of your nails in one of the confetti colors, or really go for it and put a party on all ten fingertips. This JINsoon polish in Dotty ($18) makes confetti an easy process, and the green French tips here only add to the fun.

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Fashion Forward

Simple Nail Designs Fashion Logo Chanel


These simple Chanel nails check multiple boxes. To create this minimalist look, dip a toothpick in the polish color(s) of your choice and steadily paint each curved detail.

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Superhero Stripes

Simple Nail Designs Superhero Stripes


These metallic gold and red striped nails have the wow factor of a high-shine finish and negative space. Start at the tip of your nail when crafting your stripes. You can recreate this look in the colors of your favorite superhero for your next movie marathon or themed party.

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Statement Sparkles

Simple Nail Designs Statement Sparkle


These nude nails are classic and eye-catching, with silver and gold glitter taking them up a notch. Fortunately, they're easy to DIY: Start with a nude base, then layer with gold glitter on one hand and silver on the other.

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Sunset Shades

Simple Nail Designs Sunset


Some of the best simple nail designs are carefully curated palettes. This one gives us serious golden hour vibes, with a different color on each nail ranging from burnt caramel to periwinkle.

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Triple Curve

Simple Nail Designs Curve Outline


Make your nails radiate for days with this twist on a French mani. After allowing a neutral base coat to set, paint three black lines—one right at the tip, the next a small distance below, and finally near the base. This may be a simple nail design, but if you ask us, it deserves its own place in an art museum.

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White Accent Dot

Simple Nail Designs White Accent Dot


This design is oh-so-cool and easy to create. After painting a base coat of your favorite color—we like the subtle navy shimmer shown here—use a detail brush to add a white contrast dot. The best part? It doesn't have to look perfect, so get creative.

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Say It Loud

Simple Nail Designs Words


Express yourself a bit more literally by putting a few words on your nails. The trick with these is to find some letter decals, making it incredibly easy to turn a basic mani into a true statement.

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Scaled Horizontal Dots

Simple Nail Designs Scaled Horizontal Dots


There's something so mod about this placement of dots that scale in size across the span of the nail, and the simple design would look great placed vertically as well. Try using a fun mustard-colored polish for the base for a look like this one.

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