We’re Calling It: These Are the Hottest Nail Trends for Summer

There’s a lot of energy and excitement surrounding summer 2021. Even if you’re being cautiously optimistic, you can sense that it’s going to be a completely different summer than last year and hopefully a lot more fun and carefree. We deserve a little bit of levity, right?

And since we’ll probably be out and about more this summer, it’s time to start strategizing your “re-entry” looks. What will you wear to reunions with friends and family you haven’t seen in more than a year? Are you looking to experiment with your clothes and makeup?

One thing I’m excited about? Treating myself to some manicures and pedicures. Pre-pandemic, I didn’t get my nails done regularly, but after over a year of not getting any salon services, I’m looking for some pampering. I’m also looking to be a little dramatic with my nails this summer. They’re normally bare, but I’m itching to try new things.

So to gather inspiration, I reached out to some nail artists and stylists to get their predictions of the nail trends for summer 2021. I wanted to know what nail art, colors, and shapes are worth trying out as the new season rolls around. Here’s what they had to say.

All of the nail artists we spoke to said French manicures are big for summer. “French manicures have made their way to the forefront in a big way,” says Gina Edwards, celebrity nail stylist and brand ambassador for Kiss. “Multicolor tips, textures, and traditional white tips are hailed classics because of their effortless twist to the negative-space nail trend. Kiss Classy Nails fit into this category perfectly, as they’re French nails with a modern flair and trendy designs.”

While you can opt for the traditional white tip, you can also go for something more modern with bright shades, which Brittney Boyce, celebrity nail artist and founder of Nails of LA, predicts will be popular. “This summer, the French mani features an oval or almond shape most of the time and looks really natural,” she says. “The version that features outlines with different shades is really popular. For summer, use bright colors like those from Orly’s Electric Escape—think neon orange, bold royal purple, and bright greens. I did a version of this on Shay Mitchell that she shared on her IG stories recently, and people love it.”

It’s time to go bold. “Neon colors are something my clients are embracing right now,” Boyce says. “Think bright lime greens, tangerine orange, hot pink, and neon yellow. If you’re doing it as a solid shade on your nail, go with a shorter round or natural tip so the colors don’t feel so overwhelming. For nail art, I love bright pops of colors on minimal bare nails, an angled French with a bright shade, or even a simple vertical stripe down—the middle of the nail can look super cool.”

Edwards says floating or free-form triple lines across the nails will also be big this summer. The cool thing about this is you can get creative and experiment with colors such as neons or even metallics.

“The Pucci-inspired nail-art trend started gaining traction this spring, but it’s going full force this summer,” Boyce says. “Bright shades and Pucci’s abstract designs just lend themselves to really bold, creative nail art. This looks great on both short and long nails. You can even do the design just on the tips.”

“Ombré nail art is such an exciting way to display multiple colors at once,” says celebrity and editorial manicurist Mimi D. “With airbrushed nail art making a comeback, ombré is one of those nail art looks that are easily achievable using the airbrush technique. Airbrush is an ode to the ’90s, and it would appear that quite a bit of ’90s fashions are making their way back as well.”

Boyce calls glass nails with bright abstract art “the Sara Tan” look, referring to the co-host of Gloss Angeles and current beauty director of Refinery29. Boyce says it’s going to be very popular this summer. “Sara and I conceptualized this look to highlight clear glass tips using thin strokes of abstract shapes two years ago, and it keeps on making the rounds each summer. The clear tips look really crisp in the summer, and people tag me to show me their re-creations,” she says.

The negative-space trend is not going away, and why should it? It’s so low-maintenance. Edwards says half-and-half nails with negative space is a trend.

“The Skittle mani is set to be super trendy this summer because this look is easily achievable at home,” says Mimi D. “Grab three to five of your favorite summer shades, paint a different color on each finger, and voilà: You’ve got instant trend-setting nails for the summer.”

And finally, we predict people gravitating toward happy colors this season. Cheerful and optimistic is the name of the game. Think oranges, yellows, pinks, and bright reds.

Next: 10 Editors on Their Favorite Classic Nail Polish Shades of All Time

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