Trends

25 Simple Nail Designs Anyone Can Master


@betina_goldstein

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 coolest art that we love—and quite possibly need—is 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. Ahead, you’ll discover 25 manicure options that you’ll be able to easily DIY from the comfort of your own couch. With the polish colors of your choice, base coat, topcoat, decorating tools, and this list of mani looks, you’ll be a bonafide nail pro in no time.

01
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Solar Eclipse Nails

Jin Soon Choi calls this look “Solar Eclipse.” Just like the moon covering the sun, you have one color covering the other over the course of five nails. 

02
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Starry Details

If you really want to dress up a nude nail in a subtle way, try sticking a star decal or two on one finger of each hand. 

03
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Gold Accents

We love these nails from Paintbox because of the pretty contrast between a matte and metallic nail. The triangle peeking out on the side is an interesting twist.

04
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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 Glass Souls Nail Polish, which comes in the High Gleam Glitter Set ($25). You’ll also get a matching eyeshadow so you can create a monochromatic beauty look from head to fingertips.

05
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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. 

06
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Glitz and Glam

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.

07
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Edgy 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. 

08
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Cool Blue

We’re obsessed with deep blue metallics. They’re gorgeous on their own, or they make a great background for horoscope or space-themed nail art.

09
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Overlapping Circles

This is the bare minimum when it comes to simple nail art but it’s in a cute, fun way. Leave your entire nail polish-free except for two circles overlapping each other on the side, top, or bottom of your nail. 

10
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Tortoiseshell

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

11
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Yayoi-Approved

These simple dotted nails make us think about one of our favorite artists: Yayoi Kusama. The varying sizes 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.

12
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Half and Half

Why paint your full nail when you can create just as much of an impact with half? 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.

13
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Tiny French Tips

This minimalist manicure comes together with a thin swipe of white along the edge of each nail. It’s a modern way to approach a classic French tip and just as demure.

14
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Abstract Shapes

This graphic look is a cinch to create. 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 topcoat et voilà!

15
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Baby Fawn

These baby fawn-inspired nails are as cute as they are easy to DIY. To create the look, paint a sheer wash of gold or caramel across a third of each nail and overlay it with abstract dashes for a wildly adorable end look. Don’t forget to finish with topcoat to lock it all in.

16
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Confetti Dots

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.

17
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Fashion Forward

These simple Chanel nails check multiple boxes. For one, they’re minimalist. They also embrace the rainbow nail trend without painting your full nails. To create this look, dip a toothpick in the polish colors of your choice and steadily paint each curved detail.

18
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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. The final look is equal parts Superwoman and perfectly-wrapped present.

19
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Sparse Sparkle

This chic placement of glitter polish couldn’t be easier to accomplish. We love the gold paired with an unconventional pale blue.

20
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Statement Sparkles

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 and layer it with gold glitter on one hand and silver on the other.

21
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Caramel and Shades of Blue

Mix and match rich caramel against soothing blues for an easy and chic nail look.

22
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Ombré

Ombré is a quick way to look like you spent way more time on your nails than you did. Lay down a base coat of your choice, blend 2-3 colors together on a cosmetic sponge, stamp it firmly onto the nail, then apply a topcoat while the nail is still wet to help smooth the blend between shades.

23
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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 chic black 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.

24
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Leopard Print

The beauty of leopard print is that the messier the spots are, the better it looks. We love this tonal take on the pattern.

25
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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 design would look great placed vertically as well.

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