23 Summer Nail Looks You'll Want to Wear All Season Long

Updated 09/19/19
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Summer is just around the corner. And in addition to doing a happy dance (because for many, this winter seemed particularly long and miserable), we're already preparing our highly anticipated transition to sun, heat, and sweat-proof beauty. Things like SPF, hydration-sealing lip balms and low-maintenance hair removal are currently top of mind, but so are our nails, which, if we're being honest, endure season-long neglect during the colder months—tragically subjected to cracks, dryness, and perpetually dark hues of polish.

Sure, you can sport bright summer nail colors and whimsical nail art ideas all year round, but it just feels more exciting when the weather outside matches the cheery, summery disposition of our tips. So since we're almost there (one more month, friends!), we thought we'd beat the season to the punch and hunt down the very best summer nail looks for you to try. (We found a whopping 23, to be exact.) Keep scrolling for a season's worth of summer nail art ideas.

flower nail art

If you like the idea of a floral manicure for spring but don't want anything over the top, consider this minimal (yet still whimsical) statement-finger look from Olive & June.

multicolored nails

This multicolored nail look is perfect for summer and probably the easiest to accomplish. Simply pick a different color for each of your nails. Then, repeat on the other hand. Or if you want to get really crazy, choose 10 (versus five) different colors for an even less repetitive aesthetic.

butterfly nail art

Butterflies feel quintessentially summer. We like how the rich pigments and the focus on the wings make the entire mani look less precious.

plant leaf nail art

The palm leaf nail trend has been going strong for a while, and we love it. That being said, we also think this version, which boasts a more muted color palette and slightly diverse design, adds a necessary punch of interest. 

polka dot nails

Pristine white nails always look vibrant and fresh for summer. For a more elevated take, try adding a swipe of metallic at the tip and aquamarine pin-dots over the entire nail. 


We love this cool minimalist look for summer. It's the antithesis of what's expected but still looks clean, fresh, and low-maintenance for the season. 

yellow french manicure

If you find yourself falling back on your go-to French manicure, try this summer-friendly version with a shade of eye-catching lemony yellow in lieu of white. Take it further with a double arch (shown above) for an extra twist. 

cactus nail art

We've seen cacti on one or two nails at a time for a statement nail approach, but tiny cacti on every nail? Plus a contrasting red background? We're obsessed. 

watercolor nails

Watercolored? Marbled? Foiled? We're not exactly sure what to coin this summer-ready manicure, but we think the combination of texture, color, and design would make for the prettiest of nail looks this season. 

chameleon chrome paint drip nails

This one, which Instagram-famous manicurist Ms. Patty Cake refers to as "chameleon chrome paint drip," looks like it was meant for the water and a long day at the beach or pool.

metallic green and gold nails

For something more intricate and eclectic, we're equally enamored with this metallic green and gold nail art design. 

hot air balloons nail art

Um, can you think of anything more whimsical than hot air balloons for summer? Neither can we, and this particular manicure is at the top of our list for our next salon appointment.

strawberry nail art

The only thing better than physically going strawberry picking during the warm summer months is sporting the berries themselves (with glitter, obviously) on your nails.

black hearts nail art

Sometimes nail art adorned with hearts can look a little too sweet. However, this particular manicure with a nude base and super-fine lines gives off an "I just doodled on my bare nails" vibe that we're very much into for summer. To make it a little more polished, just make sure to add your favorite clear coat on top. Team Byrdie is obsessed with this one from Essie.

tie-dye nails

We might not spend our summer afternoons making tie-dye T-shirts anymore (ah, what memories), but we'll happily channel the childhood trend on our tips all summer long.

ocean waves nail art

Rolling waves are another summer-worthy option for the season. We like how the stark white foam caps complement the various shades of blues.

blue floral nails

As we mentioned, floral nails can sometimes veer a little fussy, but this dreamy mix of blues, plus bold pops of black, give this manicure a hint of edge. 

purple glitter nails

We whole-heartedly realize glitter and holographic accents aren't for everyone. But if you do love the trends, consider this spell-binding summer nail look your go-to this summer. 


Bright color, contrast, flowers, and intricate design—this work-of-art manicure has everything we crave when contemplating a fresh set of summer nails. 

lavender iridescence nails

Love a classic pastel for the warmer months? This periwinkle is a touch more saturated than your average shade of lilac or lavender, and the elegant stripe of iridescence adds a little bit of sparkle. 

gold foil denim nails

Gold foil and denim tips are the perfect manicured complement for your cutoffs this summer. 

abstract nail art

If you're known for keeping your nails minimal, bare, or French-manicured, consider this abstract nail art one step up in the elevation department. It boosts your summer mani with just enough interest but still looks understated.  

red peep hole nails

A bright jolt of red is a favorite for summer, but we think this version with a peep of your own nail front and center is a cool alternative. 

Looking for more nail inspiration? We're still loving these festival-appropriate nail looks for the summer. 

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