A fresh manicure can quickly transform your look from good to great, especially when you’re letting your personality shine through nail art. Here, we’ll show you how to keep the sun-soaked vibes going, no matter the season, with DIY desert nails.

How to Create Desert Nails

cactus nails
Source: instagram
Desert nails like these from
@chatter_nails look great all year round!

As the name suggests, desert nails are all about bringing sand, sun, and skyscapes to your mani. If you’re new to nail art, simply using colors that remind you of your favorite desert destination is a great starting point. 

Or, if you’d like to experiment with more detailed designs, adding classic desert touches like a tiny cactus or a sunset over the sand can help you create miniature works of art.

Step 1: Freshen Up Your Nails

file nails
File and trim your nails before working on your design.

Before you dive into your desert nails pattern, make sure your canvas is prepped for painting. Keeping your nails in tip-top condition with regular trimming, filing to your desired shape, and moisturizing your hands will make the finished product look even better.

Step 2: Choose Your Color Palette

orange blue and red nails
Source: instagram
From orange and blue (like these by @nails_by_al) to red and dusty pink, there’s a world of colors to choose from.

When you’re creating desert nails, you can make any color choice work, but shades of orange, yellow, red, and pink are ideal for channeling a Saharan feel.

Think about how you want your final design to look before you start painting. Some desert nails alternate solid colors on each nail, with an intricate design layered on top. Others use the same repeated pattern but have multiple colors in an ombre style on every finger.

Step 3: Get Painting!

cactus nails
Source: instagram
Try out a few different desert nail designs, like these from

For any nail art work, start with a thin layer of clear polish to help your design stick better. After this, start applying your color polish, letting each layer dry before moving on to the next (or curing it, if you’re using gel polish).

paint nails
Use a finger on your other hand to steady yourself as you paint.

If you’re adding small images to your nail art, like a cactus or the night sky, use tools like a striping brush or dotting tool to help you make more precise movements. It can also be helpful to test out your designs on a piece of paper first to make sure you know exactly how to draw the pattern onto your nails. 

When you’re happy with the final look, add a layer of clear polish to set your design.

Desert Vibes All Year Long

Whether it’s the middle of winter, you’re desperate for some sun, or you’re looking for a complementary look as you jet off on your next trip, desert nails are the perfect nail art design for any season!

Create Tiny Works of Art on Your Fingertips!

Nail Art: Colorful, Creative Designs to Paint and Share

Written By

Holly Landis

  • Click here to share on Twitter
  • Click here to share on Facebook
  • Click here to share on LinkedIn
  • Click here to share on Pinterest