Cover Tatler talked to top nail experts to find out the biggest nail art trends for summer 2021 (Photo: Pexels)

From rainbow French tips to vibrant neon hues, these are the most popular summer nail art designs to add to your inspiration board ahead of your next salon appointment

Summer is in full swing, and the arrival of warmer weather can only mean one thing: it’s time to refresh your wardrobe, experiment with make-up trends, and of course, try out some gorgeous nail art designs for a fresh new look. This season, nails are proving to be more of a mood booster than ever—and who among us hasn’t experienced the momentary joy of glancing down our tips in between Zoom calls or another round of hand-washing?

With countless imageries of bright designs flooding on our feeds continuously, the entire experience of choosing which colour palettes and styles for nail art designs can be a little overwhelming. So we reached out to leading nail experts—including Rachel Apfel Glass, founder of NYC-based salon Glosslab; and Kerry Tsang, co-founder of Urban Chillez, a stylish nail salon in Wong Chuk Hang—to help you find out which nail polish colours and designs will dominate this season.

Keep scrolling to discover the prettiest, most popular nail art trends to try for summer 2021, including rainbow French manicure, pastels, and more. 

See also: The Best Make-Up Trends To Try For Summer 2021

Rainbow French manicure

French manicure has always been one of the most popular designs among the fashion crowd thanks to its elegant and versatile appearance, and this trend doesn’t show signs of dying down anytime soon.

According to Tsang and Glass, French manicure is officially trending again this season, but with a fresh twist—bright rainbow colours. A beautiful design, seen here by Glass, is a perfect way to stand out amongst all the single colour schemes this season, which also works as a mood booster to add a little cheer to your day. 

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Red hearts

A beautiful manicure to covet, this design features little red hearts over a lovely light pink base to elevate your summer ensembles. “If you love simple nail art but still want to embrace the aesthetics of summer, this one is a must-try,” says Glass. “A style loved by many of my clients during the Pride Month last month, the design is very easy to wear and has a feminine appeal that will suit every occasion—whether it’s work, celebration or summer parties.”

To achieve the look, choose two to three fingers to feature the red hearts in different sizes and directions, and opt for a milky or nude pick base coat to let the hearts draw attention.  

Smiley faces

Here’s another cheerful rendition of the classic French manicure modelled by Glass, which comes complete with cute smiley faces that will be sure to turn heads and serve as a wonderful reminder to look on the bright side of life.

Depending on your desired outcome, you can have your tips adorned in multiple colours or just one single hue. It’s best to choose a transparent base coat to make the smiley faces the focal point of your manicure for an adorable appearance.  

See also: The Best Lip Balms With SPF For Summer 2021

Bold red nails

While red nails are nothing new, the design is an absolute classic that can make anyone wearing it feel confident, which also works well with most, if not all of your outfits. “Red nails are an all-time beauty win and they will continue to be a crowd-pleaser this season,” says Glass. “This year, we’re seeing more influencers turning the classic red mani into a more eye-catching design by going for lighter, brighter red colours.”

The design is especially great for those who’re not a fan of patterns and want something simpler but statement-making, where the colour red will look amazing on all skin tones and work for short nails, too.  

Bright yellow tones

Nothing complements a summer outfit like a lovely yellow manicure. “Yellow nail polishes appear fresh and cheerful, very reminiscent of summer,” says Glass. “The sunny colour will take us into the cooler weather and keep us chock full of sunshine as temperatures drop.” 

From bright tones to pastel hues, no matter what styles you’re after, the shade looks equally good on a date night as it would at the office. Plus, the great thing about this colour is that it can work on nails of all lengths and shapes. 

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Neon ombre nails

This attention-grabbing look marries two major nail trends we’ve been seeing everywhere: ombré and neon shades.

“For the modern woman who isn’t afraid to play with colours and wants to try some statement nail art, this design is the way to go,” says Tsang. “If you’re going all out, you can rock the trend by choosing to have two fierce shades, such as hot pink and neon orange, blended on each individual nail for a vibrant finish. Alternatively, if you’re happy with the already dramatic colour combination, you can add the fade effect to two fingers as an accent.”  


Just like rainbow French manicure, pastel nails are all over Instagram, and it’ll only keep growing this season. “Solid pastels are always great for the summer months, but if that feels a bit boring for you, spice things up with the rainbow route instead,” suggests Tsang. More than just painting your nails in different pastel shades, you can experiment with the watercolour effect to achieve a stylish, unique look.  

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