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It’s officially 80 degrees in half of the country, which means my entire mani vibe has shifted to summer nail colors. Goodbye, nude nail polishes and short nails; hello, neon nail colors, cool nail designs; and almond nail shapes. When summer hits, I’m all about showing off the coolest summer nail trends, whether I make an appointment at the salon, DIY, or stick on a press-on nail kit. So you could say I have quite a few ideas when it comes to my summer nail colors this year.
Neons, pastels, creamy nudes, and light shades are about to dominate everyone’s fingers and toes this fall, according to nail artists Julie Kandalec, Syreeta Aaron, and Thuy Nguyen. So I handpicked the top summer nail colors to try this year as well as what to use to do them yourself at home and tips to make it a smidge easier.
✔️ FYI: We updated this article in May 2023 to give you the most up-to-date info on summer nail colors, including the nail trends going viral on TikTok, a celebrity nail artist’s favorite summer shades, and go-to nail colors to try every summer.
Barbie-pink summer nails
Yup, the Barbie movie we’ve all been waiting for is finally coming into theaters this summer, meaning it’s 100 percent about to be a Barbie Girl Summer—hey, I don’t make the rules. Commemorate the time with a bright-pink manicure (and pedicure, if you’re feeling extra special). IMO, LaPierre Pretti-N-Pink and Expressie Mall Crawler are the absolute best Barbie-pink nail polishes.
Coral-glazed nails for summer
If you’re not glazing your bright-colored summer manis, then IDK what to tell you. Heck, celebrity nail artist Zola Ganzorigt has basically covered every color in a chrome powder at this point. And I am v ~inspired~ by her coral look on Kylie Jenner. The base is slightly muted and pastel, but the shimmery finish makes it feel like a summery dream.
Pastel watercolor nails
Bright-green summer nails
Not only did this shade blow TF up on runways (we’re talking Givenchy, Michael Kors, Elie Saab), but it made its nail debut on Hailey Bieber, who has essentially started every massive nail trend of the last year. She combined hers with a gold-chrome accent for Coachella, which feels totally right. But feel free to try this shade as an accent nail to dip your
toes fingers in.
Milky nails for summer
TikTok’s latest nail trend? Milky nails, which is essentially just a sheer, cream nail color. It’s like glazed-doughnut nails before you put the chrome powder on. To get that creamy effect, just drip one drop of top coat onto your nail after you’ve painted on your white nail polish while it’s still wet.
Tomato-red nails for summer
Red nails are an all-year-round staple, but this specific tomato-red polish was legit made for summer. It has a slight orange undertone with neon-level brightness that fits right in with all of your statement summer shades.
Slime-green summer nails
Okay, low-key, this slime-green nail color is kinda ugly (like, it’s giving Shrek), but it perfectly fits in with the ’70s, retro style vibes that have been everywhere since Taylor Swift’s Midnights album released. If you want to try the trend but are iffy on the shade, combine it in a squiggle pattern with other muted hues.
Neon gradient nails
Neon nail polish in summer is basically the blueprint, so why not just wear ’em all? This gradient French-tip look is slightly toned down from an all-over vibrant neon mani, but the combination of colors on each nail has summer cocktails and beach days written all over them. Nail artist Thuy Nguyen says trying ombré/gradient nail art is also a nice way to switch it up if you’re more of a neutral-nail person because “you can control how much color is exposed and how far up it goes on the nail bed.”
“Naked” nails for summer
Don’t feel like getting your nails done? No biggie, just throw on a ridge filler and a strengthening top coat and call it a day. The key, though, is to coat your nails with cuticle oil to keep your skin moisturized, so hangnails and dry cuticles don’t steal the spotlight. As a bonus, your nails will be smooth and healthy by your next mani.
Aqua-blue summer nails
This vivid, turquoise-blue nail color legit screams summer. But it looks ~sophisticated~ (more patio happy hour, less teen pool party) with this dainty French-tip design. “It’s set in between pastels and bolds this summer—think a Euphoria-like eyeshadow palette,” says nail artist Julie Kandalec.
Shimmery-pink nail color
Strawberry-glazed nails are expected to be a massive spring/summer trend. But if you want a slightly simpler version, just swipe on two coats of a shimmery-pink nail polish. You’ll get a similar shiny pink vibe with fewer steps (and tools…and products…).
Rainbow summer nails
Hi, your resident queer here, telling you the best way to celebrate Pride Month is with Pride nails, like this pastel-rainbow gradient. DIY it with a makeup sponge and a handful of pastel nail polishes by swiping each shade of polish on the tip of the sponge one after another in a line, then dotting it on each nail. Blend it together by painting on a top coat.
Lemonade-yellow nails for summer
Yellow is about to be the it beauty shade of the summer (like, imagine the colored-eyeliner looks), including these chrome nails Hailey Bieber wore for a Rhode campaign. Choose a bright, pastel yellow instead of a primary yellow for a more updated version of the hue, or tone it down with a butter-yellow nail polish instead.
White summer nails
If you care about matching your nails to your outfits, you’ll legit never have to worry with a white nail look because it’s an ideal base with whatever you’re wearing. Go for a classic stark-white polish on its own, which will always be on trend, or add a squiggly design or shimmery top coat to jazz it up.
Beth Gillette is the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers skincare, makeup, hair, nails, and more across digital and print. She can generally be found in bright eyeshadow furiously typing her latest feature or hemming and hawing about a new product you "have to try." Prior to Cosmopolitan, she wrote and edited beauty content as an Editor at The Everygirl for four years. Follow her on Instagram for makeup selfies and a new hair 'do every few months.
Katherine J Igoe (she/her) was a contributing editor for Cosmopolitan and is a freelancer covering style, lifestyle, culture, and beauty (she's obsessed with gift guides, best-of movie lists, and beauty products). She's been a freelance writer and editor for over a decade, previously working for Marie Claire (2018 to 2021) and Bustle (2021), with bylines in the The New York Times, Parents magazine, and elsewhere. She lives in Boston with her family, and you can follow her on Instagram or Twitte. It's "I go to dinner," not "Her huge ego," but she responds to both.
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