12 Cool Nail Art Ideas for Manicure Minimalists

Simple doesn't equal boring.

While certain hair and makeup looks can be described as effortless (think: (beachy waves and no-makeup makeup), nail art seems to be anything but. It has a reputation for being bold, graphic, and nearly impossible to DIY unless you are a professional manicurist. However, just like the low-key hair and makeup trends we love, we've discovered that simple yet stylish nail art designs do exist. In fact, minimalist nail art can be as equally as impressive as its colorful, intricate design counterparts.

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 favorites? Neon French tips and a half-and-half chocolate brown and beige pattern that's a dead match for our favorite oat milk latte.

Nail Art Ideas for the Manicure Minimalist
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Ahead, we've rounded up 12 simple (not boring) nail art ideas for manicure minimalists.

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 dot design is actually a set of reusable press-on nails available in a handful of colorways.

2. Color-Block Swirls

Can't keep your hand steady during a manicure? No problem, thanks to this color-block 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 our go-to oat latte, 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 its That 70's Chill reusable press-ons.

4. Seeing Stars

Nude manicure with gold glitter celestial nail art

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 subtle outline details are chic and a little bit retro.

6. Neon French Tips

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

7. Overlapping Colors

Minimalist designs pair perfectly with nude nails. Here, overlapping blue, teal, and white at the nail border add a pop of color to an otherwise basic mani. You can customize this look by playing with various color palettes until you find your favorite.

8. Negative Space Half Moons & Tips

Is your 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.

9. Bits and Blobs

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

10. Seeing Spots

Polka dot manicures are still going strong for a few reasons: they're minimalistic, chic, and easy to DIY. We're partial to 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.

11. 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 corners of the nail.

12. Confetti

Although this confetti design was actually achieved by stick-on gels, it can just as easily be replicated with nail polish. Choose a color scheme and your favorite polishes, plus a toothpick for dipping and dropping teeny-tiny dots.

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