14 Tortoise Shell Manicure Ideas Trending This Season

Tortoiseshell manicure with blue french tips


We're all about a bold animal print moment—snakeskin boots, leopard-printed midi skirts, you name it. The latest iteration taking over our feeds? Tortoiseshell manicures.

For those unfamiliar, a quick overview: "Tortoiseshell nails combine two nail trends in one: A jelly nail color as a base and tortoiseshell patterns on top, [achieved by] applying the light color first and then lightly dotting the dark colors on top of it," explains Jin Soon Choi, editorial manicurist and founder of JINsoon Spas and Nail Lacquers. "They feature a speckled color palette of orange, brown, and black that mimics the pattern of a real tortoise shell. It's all about layering and blobbing the colors."

Best of all, tortoiseshell nails are actually pretty easy to achieve at home. According to Choi, simply apply a brown-hued burnt orange shade that's semi-transparent (if you don't have any jelly nail polishes, she suggests mixing a moody orange, like JINSoon's Earth Clay, $18, diluted with a top coat to create your own), and then blob on the other hues—between three and five colors—for the pattern, starting with the lightest shade. It's totally fine if your blobs overlap; just make sure all the colors are showing so that the layering gives off a 3D-like effect. No fancy tools or steady hand required.

Want to try out the trend yourself? Scroll on for 14 tortoiseshell manis we're going wild for.

01 of 14

Lighten Up

Light tortoise shell nails


Give your go-to tortoise shell look some highlights for an elevated twist that's different without reinventing the wheel.

02 of 14

Sticker Mania

Tortoise shell manicure with different designs on top.


Another way to spice up your go-to tortoise shell look? Add some nail art. For an easy DIY hack, pick up a couple of packs of nail stickers—like Stay Groovy ($10) from Deco Miami—and go to town.

03 of 14


French manicure with tortoise shell tips and two tortoise shell accent nails.


There's something ridiculously chic about a tortoise shell-French manicure combo. The micro tips on this mani are perfect for shorter nails.

04 of 14

Classic Tortoise

Classic tortoiseshell manicure.


Don't mistake classic for boring—tortoiseshell nails are equal parts elegant and chic. While tortoiseshell nails are relatively easy to DIY, you don't have to dip into nail art (or visit the salon) to get the look. Try Static Nails' Tortoise Shell Reusable Pop On Manicure ($22) to get the look in 10 minutes.

05 of 14

Back to Black

Black French Manicure with a tortoise shell accent nail.


Tortoiseshell really shines when paired with blacks and nudes, hues already found within the design itself. We love the mix-and-match combination of solid black, tortoiseshell, and black French tips found in this set—and since all the colors are fairly muted, the look still reads as almost minimalist.

06 of 14

Neon Tips

Tortoise shell nails with neon pink and neon green French tips.


If subtle isn't your style, may we humbly suggest this seriously fun tortoiseshell-neon French tip combo? To get the look try Neon Paradise ($11) and Va Va Voom ($11) by Orly.

07 of 14


Tortoise shell nails with a half-moon design outlined in white.


We love this bold take on the half-moon mani trend. Check out how the white outline emphasizes the contrast.

08 of 14

Go Splitsies

Half tortoise shell half nude manicure.


Why pick between nude and tortoiseshell when you can have both? To create a half-and-half nail look, use nail tape to help make sure you color inside the lines.

09 of 14

Blue For You

Tortoise shell manicure with two accent nails painted French with blue tips.


We love how this manicure adds a subtle pop of color via blue French tip accent nails.

10 of 14

Subtle Hearts

Manicure with tortoise shell heart-shaped tips


The perfect non-basic Valentine's Day manicure, these tortoiseshell heart tips are divine.

11 of 14

Show a Little Love

Tortoise shell manicure with a cutout heart in lighter tortoise shell print.


We're living for this tortoiseshell-on-tortoiseshell moment. It's another unique take on Valentine's Day nails we're filing away for later.

12 of 14

Romantically On-Trend

Half red half tortoise shell manicure.


For a more on-the-nose approach to the tortoiseshell manicure for Valentine's Day, try combining the pattern with classic red polish (including trendy red French tips) and heart motifs.

13 of 14

Make It an Accent Nail

Tortoise shell accent nails with fall colored manicure.


According to Choi, tortoiseshell nail art is trending right now because "it is easy to do, looks cool, and is a great way to add a unique touch to any manicure," as is clearly evidenced in the above mani.

14 of 14

Pastel Tortoiseshell

Berry-colored tortoise shell nails.


Who says you have to stick to orange, brown, and black? This set combines shades of pink and purple to create an almost watercolor-like tortoiseshell mani.

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