Some people love long, carefully shaped talons, while others prefer short, rounded nails. Manicure preferences are subjective, and trends are constantly changing. We say you should wear whatever you like, with confidence.
But with so many options, it's nice to have some inspiration. We rounded up a slew of manicures that are sure to spark ideas for your own looks, from bright pops of color to intricate designs. Whether you like something more subtle (we're looking at you, nude nail devotees) or you crave a mani with more personality (trust, us, there's plenty of that here), you'll find something to suit you in our roundup.
Meet the Expert
Keep reading for a rundown of 30 popular manicure and pedicure trends and how you can wear them, complete with tips from celebrity manicurists.
Acrylic Nail Manicures
Many acrylic nails don't only add length to your digits, but they also provide a heavy dose of drama. Keep your look fresh and easier to maintain by shortening the length of faux nails slightly and rounding the edges. Extra length not your thing? Shorter acrylic nails are trendy, too.
Some people may insist your manicure and pedicure should match, but that's a dated rule. These days, you can totally change up your mani from your pedi—just pull inspiration from the many nail trends out there. There's no reason they have to match, although a color scheme that relates is always a nice way to tie things together.
This rainbow of iridescent shades features flecks of glitter and can change colors depending on the lighting you’re in. You can wear these shades on their own (two to three coats), or layer a single coat over any nail polish to switch up any shade. It’s so simple to do but looks like you did something extra.
Few shades instantly create a sophisticated, seductive feel like a wine or oxblood red, and the intensity means you don't need to do much more than allover color to make a statement. Looking to switch it up? Try spicing up a French manicure with the deep hue.
Really, anything goes when it comes to color. If you’re using a bright polish color but it isn’t popping as much as it does in the bottle, apply a coat of opaque white polish underneath. It’ll give a clean base to make the neon pigments appear brighter.
In the world of fashion, '90s vibes are trending nail art these days. Checkered patterns are a favorite and so versatile, even for just an accent nail. If you’re trying a checkered or plaid design and need assistance with straight lines, use striping tape over a dry base color. You can map out where you want a line to go, and it’ll be perfectly crisp.
Always use a great top coat so you don’t smear your design. We like the Seche Dry Fast Top Coat ($11).
To some, nail art may be just a fashion choice, but it's also an amazing way to show creativity, self expression, and make a statement. Manicurists have been seeing lots of text-influenced designs, which include everything from a loved one’s name to Jennifer Lopez’s “Mamacita” nails at the AMAs. If you don’t have a steady hand, nail stickers are an easier option: Try the So Nailicious Gothic Letters set ($6).
Geometric nail art has been trending for a few years now, and it’s easy to see why. It's simple yet bold, and incredibly easy to DIY. Try free-handing an abstract diagonal French tip with the brush straight out of the bottle with a chic color pairing. Paintbox's Power Couple set ($40) makes it easy to pick on-trend color combos.
Mix and Match Manicures
Can’t decide on a color? This is the nail look for you. Each nail is a different color, whether you choose a rainbow pattern or a monochromatic gradient. It even looks great with neutrals if you want to switch up your go-to mani. The Nails Inc. Keep It Tonal collection ($22) makes selecting a range of colors a no-brainer.
French manis and pedis are fairly timeless, but they're always changing slightly with the times. While heavy contrasts used to be popular, modern French manicures tend to be more subtle. Instead of long nails, rounded and short nails look more modern. "As for nail shape, I am seeing lots of shorter oval, almond, and square shapes instead of very long nails, but it really is just personal preference," Lee says.
Consider swapping out the traditional light colors of a classic French mani for bright shades or sparkling tips.
Though it might appear intricate, this look is surprisingly easy to achieve. Using black and white nail polish, gently paint a couple of thin lines randomly on the nail. Quickly use a clear polish to paint on top of the white lines before the white polish dries, and you get a marble print. We like China Glaze's Liquid Leather ($8) for its high pigment, which requires just one coat.
Quartz Stone Manicures
To achieve this look, try the marble nails technique using a sheer color as your base; sheer pink as a base color will give you a rose quartz look, and sheer green will give you more of a jade look. Blue is great, too: "A soft periwinkle shade offers such a pretty and unique mix of blue and purple," Lee says. "I'm obsessed with Crystal Blue ($10) from Sally Hansen's Good. Kind. Pure. collection."
Add further interest by applying a different pastel hue to every finger. For cohesiveness, try to keep them all in the same finish (i.e. matte or glossy), and apply them going from the lightest to the darkest hue.
Here's a surprisingly fun look that's easy to achieve: Try two different colors, but ensure they're in the same color family (i.e. one hand pale blue and the other hand electric blue). This can be done with any color you wish.
A crystal here, a stripe there... Sometimes less is more and still makes a big impact. For this look, keep things as minimal as possible, using a small but striking design element such as a single stripe or a single adhesive on each nail.
Animal Print Manicures
Leopard print is so classic, it can work for everyone. Cow print is a really cool look as well if you don't want to go the standard route. If you're looking to switch it up from typical animal prints, using different colors can change your whole mood.
Metallic nails are great, but adding a little extra oomph via artfully applied stickers takes your manicure in a decidedly different direction.
"Metallics have been popular for a while, and I see that trend continuing since everyone loves to add some sparkle into their life," Lee says. You can coat your entire nail in the polish or just add it to the tips, as seen here. Lee recommends a metallic shade with bronze undertones, such as Orly's Golden Girl ($10).
Abstract Art Manicures
Make like Matisse and add a host of abstract and geometric figures and shapes to your nails. The easiest way to achieve the look is with a tool like the Orly Striper Brush ($14), which allows for more detailed designs.
A total showstopper, pearl-encrusted nails are ideal for a formal event (a wedding, perhaps?) but look equally as chic with a T-shirt and jeans. For a similar look, try a range of sizes of adhesives, like these Yimaa Pearl Stickers ($12).
Similar to the abstract look, a squiggly nail doesn't even require a steady hand. Just use your nail pen or narrow brush to create squiggles. Try combining colors for further interest.
Sheer and Shaped Manicures
Sheer nails allow the shape to be the star of the show. And while there are a multitude of options, from square to oval, it's best to let personal preference dictate the shape of your nails. "I always say that nail shape and length reflect your personal style, so this is really about who you are—I don’t think length and shape should be dictated by a trend," Elle says.
Negative Space Manicures
Negative space manis involve incorporating your own natural nail into your nail art, as in this example by celebrity and editorial manicurist Mimi D. Dress up nude nails with skinny stripes or swooshes of polish to achieve the look.
Think of this look as the French manicure's cousin, but instead of keeping a portion of the nail nude, you'll use two contrasting colors. For a really bold look, try two shades at the opposite ends of the spectrum, like black and white, or black and red, as seen here.
Take a page out of the 1960s and try your hand at tie-dye. You could attempt the look yourself with a toothpick and polish or just adhere a product such as the Shrine X ASOS Sugar Crush False Nails.
Pastels are having a moment. "The trends we are seeing for spring are bright, floral, delicate pastels that give us uplifting vibes," says Elle, who recommends Dr.'s Remedy Nail Care Enriched Nail Police in Peaceful Pink Coral ($17).
The easiest way to achieve checkerboard-style nails is to first apply a base coat (pick whatever color you like), and then paint small squares over each nail in a contrasting color. The effect is very much on trend and, depending on what colors you select, goes with anything.
A decidedly simple way to add an artful twist to nude nails, dots just require a smattering of adhesives or the use of a nail pen. Keep the rest of the nail nude to really show off the dots.
Classic Red Manicures
No matter how classic, a hyper-saturated red manicure still manages to look on-trend. We recommend Essie's Adrenaline Brush ($15) for a similar look.