Smiley Face Manicures Spiked 9x on Pinterest and Will Be Huge for 2021

Come on, put a smile on.

holographic smiley nails


Gen Z and Millennials have more in common than TikTok comments would have you believe. Sure, Zoomers love to tease Millennials about avocado toast, doggos, and "adulting" while Millennials make fun of their bucket hats, LED lights, and music that sounds like a Tesla being crushed in a trash compactor. But as someone straddling both generations (a zillennial, if you will), I can tell you one thing unites us all: adorable nail art.

In a cutting-edge, search-skimming report by Pinterest, searches for "smiley face nails" are experiencing a massive spike, primarily by 18-24 year-olds, which means they're about to be all over your Explore page and timeline. The cheerful nails are part of a larger "indie beauty" trend among Gen Z, who gravitate towards cheeky, colorful products and under-the-radar companies in lieu of the sleek, expensive, minimalist brands favored by older generations. According to the report, Zoomers are also into bright crop tops, emoji-spangled everything, and bold pops of color in their makeup.

Smiley face nails are a seamless way to combine all of these trends into one very wearable form, plus they're easily customizable with different shades, shapes, and details. Keep scrolling for all the inspiration you'll ever need for the happiest nails ever:

01 of 09

The Instant Classic

Nude nails with yellow smiley faces


Let your painted-on happy faces hang out against a nude polish shade to emphasize their color and make them pop. A fresher, more straightforward version of the trend (like this one) can feel more palatable if you're just starting with nail art experimentation.

02 of 09

Not-So-Smiley Faces

rainbow nails with sad faces


Because you don't always feel like smiling, and that's cool too. These rainbow sad face nails are the manicure equivalent of the weepy music playlist you listen to when you want to hurt your own feelings.

03 of 09

Springtime Smileys

Peach and lavender smiley nails

Some pastel-and-pattered nails with subtle smiles are perfect as temperatures start to warm up and flowers begin blooming. If you're stuck on colors at the salon, keeping everything in the same color family with one complementary shade for pop (it'll be opposite on the color wheel if you need to check) is a foolproof method.

04 of 09

Slime Smiles

Slime green nails and smiles


You've probably already seen slime-colored everything trending the past few summers, but these slime-y smiles give the trippy neon shade some new life.

05 of 09

Holographic Grins

holographic smiley face nails


Warning: if you get these holographic-background smiley nails, you will be physically incapable of not staring down at your nails as you type on a keyboard. The light-catching sparkles and rainbows paired with the smileys will get you every time.

06 of 09

Cheerful Maximalism

Colorful nails with emojis


Why stick to one trend when you could combine them to make the most joy-inducing nail set of all time? Mix patterns in unexpected color combinations, neons with pastels, and your favorite emojis for nails completely unique to you.

07 of 09

Careful Color

pink glittery nails with smiley faces


To reap the benefits of a colorful manicure while still keeping things relatively uniform, try a light, glittery background shade that adds some fun and dimension without stealing focus from the smileys.

08 of 09

Marble Meltdown

Long marble nails with smileys


Marble nails are having a moment again, but some wavy, melting smileys take these into 2021 and beyond. For an even quicker shortcut to trendy, peel some smiley stickers, pop them on your nails, and go over them with a clear coat for instant nail art—no steady hand required.

09 of 09

Single-Nail Smiles

Yellow nails with some smiley faces

Understandably, there are times when you have to keep things minimalist. Relegate your smiley faces to just one finger to get in on the fun without having to go whole hog.

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