Transform your nails with pretty florals, bright Barbie pinks & a twist on the traditional French mani

After a few years in the beauty wilderness, nails are back in the spotlight, and mark our words: there’s no better time for vibrant nails than summer. It’s when catwalk trends really come into their own, when we can truly embrace brighter colours and make a statement.

If you find yourself stumbling at the first hurdle and wondering where to start, then we’re here to give you some inspo, with the help of nail tech and educator Tinu Bello (who created the looks below), nail artist and manicurist Alex Philamond and celebrity manicurist, Michelle Humphrey.

From a modern twist on the traditional French mani to bright summer nails, dual textures and expert-approved tips for ‘nailing’ the prep, we’ve got all bases (and tips) covered, to suit any skill set.

So make the most of what you’ve got and give these five major nail trends a try this summer.

 “A good manicure starts with healthy nails – a ‘little and often’ approach is key”

Nail prep

Pre-mani strengthening

Before picking up any polishes, let’s talk about how to ensure your nails are in the best possible condition.

A good manicure starts with healthy nails and a ‘little and often’ approach is key. Michelle recommends using a regular nail strengthener, hand cream to keep skin hydrated, and pushing back the cuticles. “Do this after a bath or shower, when the skin is softer, using the corner of a towel or a cuticle stick,” she says.

At night, apply cuticle oil to help prevent breakages, splitting and cracking.

Prime before polish

Before you get started with your DIY manicure, follow these simple steps:

1. Make sure to buff off any shine using a low-grit sponge buffer. Alex explains: “This provides a foothold for the base coat to anchor itself.”

2. Next, cleanse with a nail polish remover to make sure there’s no oil on the nail plate that might prematurely lift the polish.

3. When you’re filing, always follow the natural shape of the nail to see what suits you best. “Simply hold the file still, in your non-dominant hand, and gently steer each finger along it to achieve your desired shape,” says Alex.

4. Ready to paint? Whether you’re using regular or gel polish, apply a base coat, followed by two thin layers of colour and cover every part of the nail.

1. Flower power nails

Florals for spring may not be groundbreaking (as Miranda Priestly so scathingly observed), but painting pretty floral designs onto nails is definitely a vibe for summer. Delicate and feminine, this simple look will easily complement floating summer dresses and skirts.

Tinu says: “This seems harder than it is. It’s actually just a series of dots which you can create using anything from a cocktail stick to the end of a biro.” To keep it feeling a little more pared back for everyday, choose an accent nail to do the heavy lifting.

If you feel nervous about trying anything more than a block colour, then this is great news. The even better news? Perfection is not the goal.

“Don’t worry about being perfect – mixing up the shapes and sizes looks even better,” says Tinu.

And if you get polish on your skin? “You can clean up mistakes and untidy edges using a flat brush, such as Morphe Mini Concealer Brush, dipped in remover,” advises Alex.

Recreate the look

Mylee The Real Deal Gel Polish Kit

• Full kit, including curing LED lamp and eight colours

• Vegan-friendly

This gel polish kit has everything you need to create an at-home gel mani, from eight colours to nail files and tools.

A woman holding a red, green and yellow ice lolly. Her nails are painted with a neutral base colour and neon French tips in blue, green, pink and yellow colours
2. Neon French tip nails

Who doesn’t love a French manicure? Simple and elegant, it screams understated style that’s so often associated with our neighbours across the channel. But this season, it’s all about giving that traditional look a 2023 twist.

Simply swap out your regular white polish for some ultra-cool, multi-coloured neon tips. There’s no need to battle with a liner brush for a super sharp line because Tinu has the ultimate French mani hack.

“A super easy tip is to use a make-up sponge. Paint your colour onto the sponge and then dip the nail into it.”

Très chic.

Recreate the look

My Mood Nail Polish Duo Nothing But Neon

• Includes 2 colours

• Vegan-friendly

• Cruelty-free

Give your mani a modern twist with these pink and orange neon shades. Opt for one, or alternate between the two to make your nails really stand out.

A woman holding a slice of watermelon. Her nails are painted with a swirl design in green, orange, blue and pink colours

“Raid your make-up brush collection for a couple of different sized brushes”

3. Swirl nails

The name of the game is free-flowing creativity with this look; pulling together multiple shades and shapes for a unique finish.

This one takes a little bit more practise than some of the other designs in this guide, but it’s oh-so-worth-it. If you want to give it a go, Tinu’s come through with ways to make the most of what you already have in your make-up bag.

She says, “Raid your make-up brush collection for a couple of different sized brushes to help you achieve this effect, and tailor it to your level of expertise.

“If you’re steady-of-hand, try the slimmer details and if you’re not, the bold, wider waves look just as good.”

Recreate the look

Boots Nail Art Tools

• 5 nail art brushes and dotters

• Dual-ended

Whatever design you’re trying your hand at, this tool kit has you covered. Functional and easy to use, simply create dots with one end and smooth lines of different sizes with the other.

A woman holding half a blood orange. Her nails are painted in a blood orange colour with a lighter shade in a half moon shape at the cuticles
3. Dual texture nails

Just like you can if you were layering your lippie, combine gloss and matte for a subtle take on nail art, ideal for a laid-back and low-key effect.

“A grown up way to wear nail art, this does require a little bit of precision,” says Tinu. “To get a clean and crisp half moon shape, first apply base colour and a matte top coat all over. Then use a gloss top coat to create the half moon.”

If you’re feeling bold and want to give this dreamy design a go, you’ll need the right tools. Tinu says, “I’d recommend using a thin eyeliner brush to paint this on.” Noted.

Recreate the look

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish Top Coat Matte Finish

• Matte finish

• Clear top coat

This gel-effect, matte finish top coat sits perfectly as the base for a dual texture design and gives the look a few extra days wear, too.

A woman holding a cone of vanilla ice cream. Her nails are painted in both a bright pink colour on the thumb and little finger and a white colour with pink polka dots on the middle fingers
3. Barbie nail art

Barbie is going to be everywhere this summer, thanks to the film (released 21 July), so why not get involved with this super fun trend? Expect bold pinks and bright designs that are a go-to for holidays.

“This is all about being playful,” says Tinu, “and you can choose different shades of pink to suit your skin tone.”

If you fancy an extra hit of that Barbie magic, add a coat of glitter polish like Tinu has.

Prefer to go for more of a subtle nod to the famous figurine? “Keep it plain pale pink if you want to tone it down,” Tinu suggests.

Recreate the look

Max Factor Masterpiece Xpress Nail Polish - I Believe in Pink

• Wide brush

• Quick-drying

Get your Barbie look by using this pretty pink as a cute base for your starbursts. The perfect colour for the trend, it’s also fast-drying to keep smudges to a minimum.