Hair toss. Check your nails. How are they looking? Are they recently done? Or are you looking for that fresh manicure that leaves you feelin’ yourself? A new set of nails can give us confidence and that little extra pep in our step. Knowing that we have tiny, beautifully crafted pieces of art literally at our fingertips is the boss babe (or bro) fuel we need to power our day. And we’re in the 2020s—a new decade filled with limitless nail ideas and designs—so it’s time to step outside of the traditional nail box. If you’re looking for fun ideas for nails to match your style, we’ve got a list of all the nail types and designs you need. Whether your vibe is vintage, trendy, or classic, here are some ideas for nails that will set you apart from the crowd.
A decade ago, we were deciding between rounded and square, but gone are the days of only two choices for your nail shape. Now, we have many more options when it comes to the canvas for your cute nail ideas. Here are the five most common shapes and the vibes they give.
Rounded nails typically match the natural shape of your nail. They’re a classic look that doesn’t bring too much attention. They’re also great for small hands as they accentuate the shape of your fingers, creating the illusion of length.
Square nails give off a clean vibe. They tend to be lower maintenance because you can easily file and cut them to their familiar square shape. Square nails look good with bold and blocky designs. They also make your fingers appear shorter, so they work well if you have long, thin fingers.
The stiletto nail is a bold statement. Their spiky tips can be a bit dangerous, too, so if you like living life on the wild side, this is the nail shape for you. Some of the most trendy nails out there feature the stiletto look, so take the plunge with this fun style.
If you’re not quite ready for the intensity of the stiletto-shaped nail, you have options. The almond shape is a perfect middle ground between the classic rounded nail and the loud, boisterous stiletto. This shape lengthens your fingers and is great if you have shorter, thicker fingers.
5. Ballet or Coffin
Somewhere between square and stiletto-shaped nails live the ballet or—for the more morbid among us—coffin-shaped nails. These emulate the long, eerie point of the stiletto but square off at the top instead. And they’re a perfect canvas for plenty of trendy nail ideas.
How to Choose the Right Shape
Choosing the right nail design is all about preference. But certain designs do highlight features of your fingers: If you’re looking to elongate your fingers, going with a longer, rounder nail will help you create that illusion, whereas square, short nails look great on already long fingers.
Also consider the design you’re going for. A classic nude mani lends itself to a classic shape, while stiletto or ballet-shaped nails are a perfect canvas for trendier styles!
Still not sure? Ask your manicurist for a personal recommendation.
Acrylic Nail Ideas
Acrylics are a great option if you have trouble growing out your natural nails or if you prefer longer nails. They’re also long-lasting, so they’re a perfect way to try out more intricate modern nail ideas that take some time to create! Here’s some inspo for acrylic nail designs for your next manicure.
6. Geometric Abstract Nails
Decorate your nails in a geometric design like this one—the squiggly lines and polka dots make for a nature-meets-modern-art look. There’s a lot of freedom in this style, since there are no set rules on what geometric shapes need to look like.
7. Acrylic Pour or Marble Nails
Pour art is an easy, beautiful technique for novice artists, but when applied to acrylic nails, it’s a delicate craft that takes precision and yields an intricate, one-of-a-kind design. Any color of the rainbow works for this look, but purple is appropriate any time of year, making these nails a go-to evergreen design.
8. Mermaid Themed Nails
Cute nail ideas? Look no further than the mermaid design—a fun, fabulous choice for trendy nails in the summer months. Almond, ballet, or stiletto shapes are all perfect for the mermaid nail design, and there are countless ways to personalize each nail, from glitter and jewels to scale patterns. Mermaids are magical creatures, just like you!
Natural Nail Ideas
If you’re into a more natural look for your manis—or some easy ideas for nails—then these designs are for you. Best for short nail designs, natural nails are simple and compliment your skin tone and hand shape for a perfectly effortless finish to your style.
9. The Elevated Nude Nail
Looking for simple nail ideas—or ideas for short nails? This design is a low-key, yet still elegant look that works on any nail shape or size. The added white over the nude is a perfect contrast without being too loud.
10. Nature-Inspired Nails
OK, forest green isn’t a natural color for our nails, per se. But if you’re looking for earth tones and a natural feel, then this fun design is a great, simple option. The leaf design sits on a nude color, with drops of clear glue to emulate the look of a freshly watered plant.
Cute Ideas for Nails
11. Vintage Nails
Vintage nails are classic. They’re typically done in a shade of red or pink, but nothing too showy or loud. They’re almost always either rounded or almond-shaped, too. These nails are an elegant choice, especially for formal events like weddings.
12. Modern Nails
Modern art is perfect for DIY nails, since you have a ton of freedom! Add shapes, swirls, dots, and colors as you see fit. Try learning how to design your own nails to achieve this and other modern looks.
These pointy, long, and sparkly nails are on trend this season (though if black nails aren’t your thing, you can certainly change the color up!). We love the matte polish topped with a glittery finish—a unique, eye-catching contrast.
Special Nail Ideas
If you’ve got a special occasion coming up, be it a national holiday or a wedding, having a festive set of nails adds to the celebration! Get inspired by these unique nail ideas for your next upcoming holiday or event.
The winter season is such a fun time for nail art, because there are truly an endless number of Christmas nail ideas to try! You can do traditional red and green, opt for delicate snowflakes, or go a little wilder and add some reindeer, mistletoe, and gold sparkle. These matte red and green nails give you a little bit of everything!
You have a lot of choices when it comes to Halloween nails—from sweet pumpkins and ghosts to these creepy nails inspired by the movie IT. Add one artistic nail to a palette of black matte stiletto shapes, and your nails will be the talk of the town this spooky season.
Looking for the perfect Disney nail? Sure, you can add the typical Mickey ears and Minnie polka dots, but how about choosing a fringe character? We particularly love Ursula’s vibe, but there are hundreds of characters out there, meaning nearly endless Disney nail ideas to choose from.
Summer nails! This hot, vacation-filled season is the most popular time for bold, colorful nails. We love these bright yellow designs—they remind us of a tall glass of lemonade on a hot day.
Traditionally, wedding nails are natural designs that compliment the white of the wedding dress, and these asymmetrical nude nails would work perfectly with any gown. But these days, wedding nail designs can be anything you’d like them to be—elegant, loud, or simple. Whether you want your nails to match your dress or contrast in a completely unexpected way, pick a design that you love for your big day!
Which Nail Design Will You Choose?
No matter what your style is, the perfect nail design is out there for you. If you’re looking for modern, different summer nail designs, or if you want a classic vintage look, the possibilities really are endless.
Now, get out there and show off that great set of nails!
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