Presenting: The Cutest Summer Nail Ideas to Try This Year

"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below."

Is it just me, or is the best part of a new season the excuse to switch up your nail colors? Nothing makes me feel excited for warmer days ahead like scoping out some new summer nail designs. Because unlike winter nail art, which spends most of the time hidden away and shivering under gloves and layers, summer nail trends are just a whole different vibe—I mean, does anything beat a bright neon mani wrapped around a frozen marg?

So to get you in the summery spirit, I found a ton of Insta-worthy summer nail designs that you’ll want to try ASAP. And trust me, whether you like super detailed nail art or an easy-peasy, under-10-minutes manicure, there’s inspo for you here. Ahead, the 33 prettiest summer nail ideas.

1. Silver nails for summer

This silver-dotted manicure is giving major party vibes, perfect for summer. Dip a nail dotting tool in silver nail polish and place dots all over each nail to recreate the look. Or to make it even easier, pick up a pack of nail stickers and just peel and stick ‘em on your nail.

2. Smiley face summer nail art

How fun is this smiley face nail art for summer? This is another one that’ll be easiest with nail stickers (unless you’re, like, really in the mood to paint little yellow smileys on each finger—which, more power to you).

3. This cloud summer nail idea

What better idea to pair with your cloud makeup than cloud this cloud nail design? NGL, it’s not the easiest nail design to recreate, but if you feel up to the task, I suggest watching a few tutorials first.

4. Berry red summer nails

The best part of red nail polish? There’s a shade for every season, like this berry red shade. It’s equally cute with a full glam makeup look and outfit as it is by itself.

5. This heart nail design for summer

Did you think hearts were just for Valentine’s Day nails? Think again. This combo of light and dark pinks are bright and fun enough to be a great summer nail idea, too.

6. Wavy nail art for summer

Colorful waves are my favorite trend right now, and this graphic detail is just so cool. You’ll def need some skinny nail brushes to ~nail~ that detailing. Need some suggestions? Try the Doublemoss Arte Brushes (which nail artist Betina Goldstein used here), or the Olive & June Nail Art Brush Set.

7. This black and silver nail idea for summer

If you're not into bright colors, opt for a simple black and silver nail design for summer like this pic. The 3D look is a bit ambitious, I’ll admit, so try a simpler method: Paint a black nail polish base, then once it’s dry (and I mean dry—no shortcuts here), paint a few small circles with silver nail polish on top.

8. This cherry nail design

Brb, planning all the ways I’m going to pose my set of cherry nails for my Insta story (around my water bottle? Against my face? Suggestions welcome). You’ll want to make sure you have a bright red nail polish, a green nail polish, and a light pink base color for this summer nail idea.

9. This cuticle nail art for summer

If you’re a minimalist but still want a touch of color on your mani, this cuticle nail art is a happy medium. All you need is a nail art brush and some of your favorite bright colors to paint some half-moons against your cuticle beds. The best part about this look is that because the color doesn’t touch the edges of your nails, you won’t see much chipping.

10. Contemporary French tips

This summer nail idea is giving me “on my way to get a promotion” vibes. Paint a white stripe diagonally down the side of your nail from the halfway point towards the tip, and once it’s dry, repeat on the other side with black nail polish, making sure to overlap the white polish at the tip.

11. Gradient summer nails

A great way to give your manicure some ~personality~ without adding two many colors is by picking one color family and creating a gradient look like nail artist Mimi did here. It’s also a great option for anyone who doesn’t want to mess around with nail art.

12. This minimalist summer nail design

Looking for a super minimalist nail set for summer? You’re lookin’ at it. Dip a thin nail brush into white nail polish and swipe it across your nail and up and down for this grid pattern on just a couple fingers. Leave your other nails blank for a clean look.

13. Butterfly summer nails

I mean, do I even need to explain why butterfly nails are a cute nail design for summer? But let’s be honest, most of us can’t hand paint a full butterfly on our nails, so definitely grab a sheet of butterfly nail stickers ahead of time. Once you stick them down, coat your nails with a glossy top coat to soften the sticker edges and keep them from lifting.

14. These summery pastel nails

While pastels are mostly known for their spring nail or Easter nail vibes, I’m also a big fan of them for summer. You don’t even need a whole spectrum of colors—just pick three and mimic this pattern: Paint one color on your thumb, index, and pinky fingers, then paint two accent colors on your middle and ring fingers.

15. This fruity summer nail design

Come for the summery fruit nail art, and stay for the classic French manicure underneath in this summer nail idea. My advice for painting the lil fruities? Practice them on a piece of tin foil with a thin nail art brush first to get the hang of it before taking it to your nail. Then pls DM me a pic of your final work.

16. Summery rainbow dots

Not only does this rainbow dot nail art make a great summer mani, it also fits in perfectly for pride nails. And it takes very little time to recreate (remember when I promised you easy nail ideas? This is one of them). What you’ll need: A nail dotter tool and every nail polish color in the rainbow (or scrap the rainbow idea and just use what you have). Then dot each color in a row down the center of your nail and seal with a top coat.

17. Mixed pattern nail art for summer

Want to add some variety to your regular French mani look? Add a totally different pattern to your middle and index finger, like nail artist Melanie did here (with the Sally Hansen Insta Dri x Peeps Nail Polish Duo, btw). It’s basically power-clashing, but for your nails.

18. This neon summer nail design

We can’t talk about summer nail ideas without talking about neon nail polish. It’s just as fun during the day as it is going out at night (wait, is that…still a thing?). Paint your full nails neon for a vibrant result or just stick to the tips, like nail artist Nia Ho did.

19. This checkered summer nail art

There's a reason you keep seeing this checkered print all over your IG feed: It's the prettiest combination of subtle and bold and it translates to the perfect summer nail art. Go for classic black like this design, or switch things up with a splash of pink or red nail polish.

20. This blue flame summer nail idea

Turn your classic flame mani into a cute design for summer by going for lighter, brighter nail polish colors (like this turquoise blue). P.S. Clean, round nails are a great way to show off this nail art.

21. This statement summer nail design

Not sure you want to go full throttle with your summer nail design? Go for a neutral base (like white nail polish or light pink polish) and paint two accent nails on either hand. This pink heart design is definitely on my list.

22. This butterfly nail design

Of course Dua Lipa would wear the coolest nail design from celeb nail artist Chaun Legend. Channel the singer's butterfly vibe this summer with a few nail decals and some acrylics.

23. This rainbow nail art

Can’t decide on a single color scheme for your summer 2021 nail art? Mix and match your polish on each nail until you’re left with a bold rainbow manicure like this one.

24. This cow-print nail design for summer

There’s a reason you keep seeing cow-print nail art on your Insta feed. It’s neutral enough to wear for weeks on end (like, who would get sick of black and white?) and since it doesn’t require any clean or sharp lines, it’s fairly easy to DIY too. BRB while I recreate this super-creative approach from Alicia Torello.

25. This star nail art idea

The best thing about this summer nail design is that it’s suuuper easy to recreate. All you’ll need is a light pink nail polish, a shiny top coat, and a pack of nail art stickers. Prepare for everyone to think you got your mani professionally done.

26. This yellow French manicure for summer

You already know the French mani is having a ~moment~ right now, so why not jump on board with this cute yellow design for summer? The key to recreating this look is choosing the right yellow nail polishyou want something brighter than a pastel but not quite neon.

27. This picnic nail idea for summer

Give your nails the picnic-blanket treatment with a bold red-and-white checkered pattern. The key to this nail art? A thin striper brush to make sure the edge of each square is super sharp.

28. This fruit nail design

Basically all your favorite fruits are in season during summer—so what better way to show them love than by painting them all over your nails? Reminder: If nail art isn’t really your thing, you can def get away with using a few stickers here.

29. This paint splatter nail art for summer

These multicolored paint splatters make the perfect summertime mani, thanks to the bright colors and super-easy application. Pick your favorite shades, simply dot the polish onto your nails, and finish the look off with a clear top coat.

30. This summer floral nail design

You can’t go wrong with floral decals for summer. Start by drawing pastel florals on top of a bold pink nail by dotting on each petal, filling it in with polish, and finishing it off with a different color in the center.

31. This colorful summer nail idea

Don’t feel like you need to stick with basics and nudes this summer. Instead, opt for an OTT rainbow look like this one. To copy it, paint your nails like you would a French manicure, but instead of white tips, swap them out for colorful free edges.

32. This abstract nail design for summer

An abstract tropical print like this is so spot on for summer. Between the vibrant leaves and the bold colors, this manicure pretty much looks like a Hawaiian shirt.

33. This tie-dye summer nail design

Tie-dye prints are basically synonymous with summer, and these teal, pink, and yellow swirls will definitely pop on each of your nails. Just make sure you bring the whole look together with a shiny top coat.

You Might Also Like