10 Cool Nail Art Ideas for Manicure Minimalists

Simple doesn't equal boring.

I often describe certain hair and makeup looks like beachy waves and no-makeup makeup as effortless, but it's not one I use when talking about nail art.

Nail art has a reputation for being bold, graphic, and seemingly impossible to DIY unless you are a professional manicurist. However, just like the low-key hair and makeup trends I love, I've discovered there are a number of simple minimalist nail art designs equally as unforgettable as some of the most colorful, intricate designs on Instagram that I've saved and admired (but have never tried).

More so, these minimalist nail designs can be customized to your own personal style, whether you swear by neutrals or want a pop of color that's still relatively subtle. A few personal favorites? Neon French tips and a half-and-half chocolate brown and beige pattern that's a dead match for my favorite oat milk latte.

Nail Art Ideas for the Manicure Minimalist
color_camp/Instagram, julieknailsnyc/Instagram, aliciatnails/Instagram

Ahead, I've rounded up 10 simple (not boring) nail art ideas for manicure minimalists like me.

1. Dot It

The rumors are true: glitter can be minimal. These nude nails feature a tiny shimmery emerald dot on the tips for a touch of sparkle. While it's possible to nail this look without being a professional nail artist, Color Camp has made it even easier to DIY. This design is actually a set of reusable press-on nails available in a handful of colorways.

2. Colorblock Swirls

Can't keep your hand steady during a manicure? No problem, thanks to this colorblock swirl design by manicurist Alicia Torello. Play with shape and size to create a look that's all your own.

3. Half and Half

This color palette looks like the oat latte I treat myself to weekly, but it also gives off a '70s vibe. While this chocolate brown and beige color combo is perfect for fall, you can also mix and match whatever shades you're feeling. All you need to do is divide the nail bed down the middle and then paint. Alternatively, Chillhouse has done the work for you with these reusable press-ons.

4. Seeing Stars

Minimalistic Nail Styles

Don't forget to look up because the starry sky might just give you inspiration for your next minimalist manicure. After using Gel Bottle polish as a base, Julie Kandelac, nail artist and founder of Julie K Nail Atelier, added a gold stripe down the middle of the nail and celestial stickers by Deco Miami.

5. Reverse Half Moon

For anyone looking to level up their go-to red manicure, may we suggest this asymmetrical half moon design by Paintbox? The swirled edges and a subtle pink outline details are chic and a little bit retro.

6. Neon French Tips

One of my favorite ways to lean into seasonal nail color trends is by pairing them with timeless designs like French tips. Here, Olive & June used Lime Fizz, a neon green shade from its namesake polish collection, to do just that.

7. Negative Space Half Moons & Tips

Solid nude manicure feeling a bit stale? Create a negative space half moon and French tip design by outlining the shapes with a clean back line. Nail artist Betina Goldstein reached for Chanel's Le Vernis in Égérie and Boy De Chanel in black to create this look.

8. Bits and Blobs

At first glance, celebrity nail artist Tom Bachik's manicure looks like a typical half moon manicure. Upon further inspection you'll see that the half moons are actually swirly and anchor abstract blobs painted on near the tips.

9. Seeing Spots

Polka dot manicures are still going strong for a few reasons: they're minimalistic, chic, and easy to DIY. I'm a fan of Steph Stone's multicolor single dots. The muted tones are great for fall and winter and can easily be swapped with neons for spring and summer.

10. Square Space

Checkerboard clothes and accessories are having a moment, so naturally the trend is going to make its way onto our nails, too. Celebrity nail artist Gina Edwards has put a minimalist twist on the look with these tiny colorful squares painted on the four corners of the nail. She used KISS Impress nails as a base. Not only do press-ons provide a smooth, even base for nail art, you'll also be able to enjoy your work for multiple manicures.

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