Is cute in the eye of the beholder?
If nail art has anything to teach us, it’s that while the design is mostly subjective, some things are cute because they have certain qualities. There are unlimited ways to get cute nails using all the colors of the rainbow in addition to glitter, pastels, animal print, or anime. There’s even an entire nail style genre devoted to cute nail designs.
This article is a list of nail designs by theme, showcasing examples of cute nail art, styles, and trends to help you get inspired.
Cute Nails Video Tutorial
Learn how to do this super cute nail style yourself in this easy step by step tutorial.
If you haven’t decided how to celebrate or whether you’re keen on doing anything for your birthday at all, then perhaps you can simply treat yourself. Who knows? Cute nails might become a fun birthday tradition!
What makes birthday nail designs unique are the same individual details that make birthdays unique. A cute birthday nail theme or design might include:
- Zodiac signs
- Birthstones and colors
- Birth month flower
- Birth month tree
Cute Valentine’s Nails
Today, Valentine’s Day is loaded with everything that’s cute. It’s cute when you have plans and not so cute when your plans turn sour. Good thing anti-valentine’s day nails exist, and they’re devilishly cute too!
Valentine’s Day dates back to around 500 AD and honors St. Valentine who was executed in the name of love, for hosting several underground weddings. Historically, Valentine’s Day was associated with martyrs, death, and feasts. Perhaps not much has changed?
Maybe if they offered manicures back in the dark ages, things would have turned out differently. Cute nails never disappoint! Whatever you’ve planned for the holiday, arm yourself with some sharp stilettos (nails and shoes!), slap on some glitter, and if all else fails, hopefully, you’ll have gotten a gel manicure because at least those last.
Short Coffin Nails
Coffin nails are like ballerina nails but slightly more angular towards the square tip. Traditionally, coffin nails are long, but the trendy nail shape looks good short too. When choosing the best style, consider the length of your fingers. Long coffins can make naturally long and slender fingers look super long and pointy. Short coffin nails may be ideal in that case. But these rules aren’t set in stone.
Natural short nails may be difficult to shape into coffins. However, long nail extensions can be filed down and squared off. Or, use acrylic tips. Create short coffin nails on your natural nails with extensions.
Cute Short Coffin Acrylic Nails
Acrylic manicures use plastic nail tips or temporary nail forms to create a coffin nail shape. Each is designed to shape the acrylic (a powder and liquid monomer mixture) onto the natural nail bed into the desired shape. The method used depends on the experience of the nail technician, although both can achieve beautiful results.
Cute Short Glitter Nails
Sparkle is versatile, fun, and cute. And not like you’re nine years old again kind of cute, either.
Cute Short Pastel Acrylic Nails
Pastels are reminiscent of Easter and 1950’s electric toaster ovens (aka toasters). But pastels are also delicate, soft, and pretty colors that can transform boring nails into cute nails.
Cute Coffin Nails
There are more than a few ways to get the cutest coffin nails, and you don’t need naturally long nails either. As we’ve mentioned, coffin nails by design can be short and absolutely adorable. Here we’ll look at medium and long coffin nails in various styles. Coffin nails are the perfect canvas for any seasonal design.
Cute Coffin Acrylic Nails
Summer is full of outdoor activities, and when it’s scorching hot outside, the best way to cool off is to go swimming. But water exposure does little to preserve cute coffin-shaped summer nails and can result in chipping. Chlorine, especially, can cause some colors to fade.
Summer Cute Coffin Nails
Summer is typically the warmest time of the year, and for many, it means heat and humidity. Did you know high humidity can speed up the life of your nail polish? For longer shelf life, store your nail polish in a cool, dry environment. Better yet, to keep your nail polish color looking its best, stick them in the fridge.
Cute Coffin Shape Nails
Coffin nails are hugely popular but have you ever wondered how to live life and also wear long coffin nails without breaking them?
Cute Long Coffin Nails
Due to their shape, coffin nails are the easiest nail shape to break. Of course, it depends on your lifestyle and how well you take care of the manicure. Also, try the following:
- Use a nail strengthener
- Add an acrylic or gel hardener topcoat
- Keep them dry
Cute Simple Coffin Nails
Ensure your manicure is protected by using a thicker coat of polish and applying a base and top coat to lock it in.
Coffin Cute Black Nails
If you don’t want to mess with going to the salon, press-on nails are the next best thing if you want cute nails that are also long.
Cute Medium Coffin Nails
For medium nails, try gel polish that can be shaped and is suitable for those with natural short nails. For gel nail extensions, natural nails can be short as long as there’s at least a little longer.
Cute Dip Powder Nails Ideas
Dip powders have the advantage of outlasting both acrylic and gel nails.
Acrylic nails are a liquid powder mix applied to your natural nails. Nails are then shaped, cured, and lacquered. Dip nails require a base coat application first. Then the nails are dipped directly into an acrylic powder of the desired color. Dip nails are shaped using a brush and then left to air dry.
Some advantages of dip powders over acrylics are
- A thinner application is sufficient to achieve the desired look.
- They don’t require nail glue, which often contains harsh chemicals like cyanoacrylate (the stuff in super glue).
However, some of the cheaper dip powder may contain a harmful ingredient that’s banned in most states known as MMA or methyl methacrylate. MMA can damage natural nails, so if you plan to do a dip powder manicure at home, it’s best to know what’s in it.
For a DIY dip powder kit, try Fleekin Perfect’s Dip Powder Nail Kit for beginners. The starter set includes everything you’ll need for cute dip powder nails, ten colors, as well as a step-by-step instruction booklet.
Want dip powder nails? See the table below to DIY in just a few easy steps.
|Dip Powder Nails Essentials||7 Steps||Tips|
|Rubbing alcohol||1. Prep nails by pushing back cuticles. File nail beds to get a textured surface, then sanitize them to clean away all oil and debris.||Use rubbing alcohol pads. Avoid using cotton balls which can leave pieces behind.|
|Bonding coat||2. Apply a bond coat to each nail.||Dip nails can be done without bond but it helps with adhesion and longer wear.|
|Base coat||3. Apply a base coat to the first nail you will dip. Be sure to avoid the cuticles as powder will stick to it.||The base coat needs to remain wet for the adhesion process to work. It’s best to do one nail at a time!|
|Any color dip powder||4. Dip the entire nail into the powder. Repeat the process up to 3 times for thicker coverage. Tap fingers to get rid of excess powder.||Dip the nail into the dip powder at a 45 degree angle.|
|Activator||5. Once the powder settles, apply a generous coat of activator.||Activator seals the powder onto the nails. Be sure to let it dry.|
|Nail file, buffer, and cuticle tool||6. Once dry, apply one more, thinner layer of activator and let it dry.||You may file, buff, and smooth dip powder nails once the activator dries to smooth out any odd bumps.|
|Top coat||7. Apply a top coat for a smooth, glossy finish.||Or, apply Essie’s Matte About You mattifying top coat nail polish instead! Get it for $8.99 via Amazon.|
Worried dip powder will make a mess? Use a dip powder recycling tool to catch and store excess powder.
Try the dip powder recycling pen by I.B.N G, get it for $12.99 from Amazon.
Anime fans don’t need an introduction to anime design potential. A prevalent form of digital and hand-drawn animation, known in the US as Anime, refers to animation produced and originating from Japan. Japanese animation dates back to as early as 1917.
Anime art has specific qualities which distinguish it from other types of animation. The style emphasizes things like
- Limited movement animation techniques
- Art quality
- Accurate head-to-body proportions
- Exaggerated eyes
- Visual symbols to express mood or thoughts
Cute Pastel Nails
Anime nail design typically uses an achromatic color scheme, and neutral color combinations, which consists of
Cute Pastel Color Nails
Pastels are made of powdered pigments which explains their pale, chalky quality.
The most common pastel colors are:
- Soft pink
- Mint green
Cute Pastel Yellow Nails
From music and games to shows and movies, Japanese anime has impacted US culture in a big way and picked up loyal fans in every age group. Yellow pastel gives nails a summer vibe and cool, retro aesthetic when paired with an anime design.
Cute Pastel Pink Nails
Pastel pink is a medium pink tone mixed with yellow. Colors in this family range from pale orange shades like coral to more neutral tones like peach.
Cute Pastel Gel Nails
Pastel colors are popular in the spring and summer. Nail designs with soft tones and a matte finish are easy to create using gel polish or gel nail extensions.
Kawaii Pastel Nails
Kawaii, or cute in Japanese, is characterized by cartoonish designs and pink colors. The style originated in Japan in the 1970’s and first inspired a form of “cutesy” handwriting often used by teenage girls. As the writing was difficult to read it was quickly banned in many schools. Seems cute can also be controversial.
The Kawaii aesthetic has gained popularity over the years in the world of fashion, merchandise, attitudes, and nail art. Find inspiration from various Kawaii inspired styles below.
|Kawaii Style||Description||Nail Design Elements & Ideas|
|Decora||This style revolves around innocence, playfulness, and a childish appeal. It utilizes maximalist elements emphasizing over-abundance. and cartoon elements from the 1908s.||Care Bears
Bright neon colors
|Sweet Lolita||This style emphasizes cute, hyper-feminine, Victorian era fashion and doll-like aesthetics. Black is used minimally if at all.||Petticoats
Puffy dresses and wide skirts
Cute doll images
Candy and sweets
|Yume Kawaii||Yume, or “dream” in Japanese, is a dreamy-cute aesthetic. Themes include innocent, dream-like images and mostly light, airy colors.||Unicorns
Darker colors may be used minimally
|Yami Kawaii||Yami Kawaii, or “sick-cute” uses dreamy themes and medical elements. The style is a response to the taboo of mental illness in certain cultures. Yami Kawaii is a way to express the pain of mental illness, in a cute way, within a society where actually expressing it is difficult.||Bandages
Pastels especially pink and lavender
Dark colors including black and dark pink or dark red shades
|Fairy Kei||Fairy Kei emphasizes friendly imagery and uses a strictly pastel color scheme.||Lavender
Light pastel hues
White is rarely used
Besides being delicious, cherries are small, colorful, and cute. They have been featured on everything from clothing, handbags, and yep, nails! Cherries express sweetness in taste and sentiment.
To create a cute cherry nail design, you can use a cherry’s traditional colors or change it up. For cute nails with a bold cherry design:
- Use a solid layer of matte white nail polish for a bottom coat. Try Pure White from Karlash, a super white, vegan polish for $7.99 via Amazon.
- Create black cherries using a shiny black polish, like OPI’s Black Cherry Chutney, for $10.79 via Amazon.
- Finally, use light green nail polish to create the stem. Try Essie’s Quick-Dry Vegan Nail Polish in Mint Green for $8.54 via Amazon.
- Top it off with a clear coat of strengthening nail polish.
Or, you can use cherry nail stickers instead. You can get 25 sheets of cherry nail stickers from Amazon for $6.12.
For a more precise, and less messy, DIY manicure you can use a polish cuticle protector like PUEEN’s Latex Tape peel off cuticle guard. Just paint around the nail bed before starting, then peel it off when your nails are done.
Get the liquid skin barrier for your next at-home manicure for $7.99 from Amazon.
Cute Rainbow Nails
Rainbow nails refer to a few different styles. A rainbow nail design can mean that each nail is painted a different color. But they can also include
- Rainbow marble nails
- Rainbow gradient nails
- Pastel rainbow
- Watercolor rainbow
When you use a rainbow palette, what you end up with is a set of lovely nails. Rainbow nails can look artsy, elegant, or cartoon-ish. You can use traditional rainbow colors or a version of the rainbow color palette. So, what are the colors of a rainbow?
There’s room for debate about whether or not rainbow colors are depicted as accurately as the colors of the actual rainbow. But it makes some sense considering not everyone perceives colors in exactly the same way. Besides that, these colors work together harmoniously.
There are a few ways you can pick what shades of rainbow colors to use:
- Pick one color from the rainbow that you absolutely love.
- Then, based on its shade, pick out the rest of your rainbow palette.
You could try Sally Hansen’s Blue Skies Ahead, a pretty shade of insta-dry GLAAD blue that has a glossy finish. It’s easy to apply, you only need one coat, and it dries fast for quick layering.
This is a very light baby blue, so the rest of the rainbow colors in your color scheme would follow with complementary shades.
Another option is to go for solid primary colors to create a rainbow design. Cute nails are easy with a clean retro look. Check out this easy DIY tutorial.
Unless you enjoy hunting for individual shades of nail polish, you can opt to buy the full rainbow color spectrum. Beetles Gel Polish offers a collection of 6 retro primary colors that you can buy on Amazon for $15.99. The gel polish is made using nine ingredients and comes in a glossy finish. The benefits are cute nails that are also toxin-free!
Note that some gel polish requires a separate base coat and top coat, and all gel polish requires an LED or UV lamp to cure. Beetles carry a quality Gel Base Coat and Top Coat trio that includes one base coat polish and two different top coat polishes, matte and shiny. You can get it on Amazon for $8.54.
Cute Blue Ombre Nails
Blue ombre nails are some of the prettiest when it comes to ombre designs. Observing recent surveys, the world’s favorite color is blue. Blue feels non-threatening and cute things are often non-threatening. Blue is also associated with serenity, calm, and tranquility. Browsing through shades of baby blue ombre nail art pretty much feels like that too.
According to science, our color preferences change as we get older, as we feel more drawn to darker shades. Darker shades of blue, perhaps?
Cute Leopard Nails
Cheetah, leopard, what’s the difference? Actually, quite a bit! Leopard print is often used to refer to any type of large cat print. However, if you’re going to honor these amazing creatures with nail art, give your cute nails credit where credit’s due!
Leopard print, frequently called leopard spots, aren’t actually spots but rosettes. The background color of a leopard’s coat is a light golden copper color. The rosettes are black, encapsulating a darker orange-tan color in the center. But nail art leaves plenty of room to experiment with various colors. After all, with her famous rainbow leopard print designs, Lisa Frank made a career out of it.
Here’s an easy step-by-step guide to creating super cute nails with a pink and gold leopard print color scheme. Note that you may substitute any of the colors as you like. Play around and experiment!
To create leopard print nails with a cute color scheme, you’ll need:
- One solid color for the bottom coat
- Black color for the rosettes
- Second solid color for the inside of the rosettes
- Clear protective top Coat
- Dotting tool or toothpick
Create leopard print nails at home in 4 steps.
|Step 1||Step 2||Step 3||Step 4|
|Coat your nail bed with one or two coats of a solid color and let dry. Try pink, orange, or white. Any color works.||Use the black polish and a dotting tool to create rosettes by drawing a c shape and then a backward c shape right next to it with connecting them. Don’t worry about making them perfect. Create 4-5 rosettes per nail. Let it dry.||Use the second solid color to fill in the rosettes. Choose a color that complements the base color. Try light brown, white, or silver.||Be sure to let the design dry completely.
Then layer it with a clear top coat. A simple, quality top coat such as Seche Vite’s Clear High Gloss Fast Dry Top Coat works well. Get it on Amazon for $13.13.
Cute Black And Rainbow Nails
Black and rainbow nails use the same color concepts as other types of rainbow nails with the color black incorporated into the design. For instance, you can design a rainbow for each nail set on top of a solid black background. Or, you can add a black stripe to the rainbow itself. Rainbow nail designs are often referred to as pride nails and are one way to support equality and celebrate pride month.
Cute Heart Nails
Hearts are popular during Valentine’s Day and are associated with love and romance. Creating a cute heart nail design is easy and you don’t have to wait for a holiday to get the look. You can paint hearts in your nail design or use nail decals.
Cute Polka Dot Nails
Nails with polka dots are super easy to do and the style is undeniably cute. Today polka dots convey innocence and ultimate cuteness–think ladybugs or polka dot dresses. Polka dots have come full circle because they weren’t always so lovely.
Polka dots are a simple nail design. If you don’t have a dotting tool, some household items will do the trick. Try the end of a bobby pin, toothpick, or pencil. It’s best to use a tool with a firm, round end instead of something like the end of a cotton swab.
Cute Minnie Mouse Nails
A Minnie Mouse nail design is taking polka-dotted nails one step further. To do a Minnie Mouse nail design, you’ll want to follow the cartoon fashion icon in her choice of colors, pink, white, and black. Minnie Mouse is famous for her big bow, yellow shoes, and dark pink dress with white polka dots.
But don’t be too worried about sticking to traditional hues; take a detour and play around with other shades. While it’s true that Minnie Mouse has worn the same outfit for nearly a century, she didn’t have a choice.
This year, as a symbolic gesture, Minnie Mouse traded her iconic polka-dotted dress for a pants suit. The wardrobe change celebrates the 30th anniversary of Disney’s Paris theme park and honors International Women’s Day. Support your love for Disney and women’s right to choose
an outfit, with some super cute Minnie Mouse nails. Here’s how to do it.
Short Glitter Nails
If you’re going for sweet and sassy, then short glitter nails are it. Glitter looks good on short nails whether they are natural, gel, or press-on. With nearly unlimited colors, glitter is versatile and can be worn alone over bare nails or on top of a fresh coat of lacquer. For cute nails featuring a subtle sparkle, use silver or gold glitter polish over natural nails.
One coat of glitter polish is typically all it takes.
Cute Coral And White Ombre Nails
If you haven’t seen the latest trend that is ombre, then we’re going to change that. Ombre is a beautiful nail design that features a seamless blend between two colors, shades, or textures. Coral and white ombre nail designs feature coral hues fading from white polish or vice versa.
Cute Neon Nails
When you think of cute neon nails, what color comes to mind exactly? Most likely, many colors pop into your mind when you think of neon and the reason is that neon isn’t actually color but an element.
Cute Neon Green Nails
Neon comes from a Greek word meaning new. So here’s to all neon color options.
Cute Neon Orange Nails
Neon colors are also known as fluorescent colors. And its natural state, neon does have a unique, fiery shade of bright reddish-orange.
Cute Neon Yellow Nails
Neon colors are traditionally primary or secondary colors turned up to their maximum brightness.
Coffin Cute Solid Color Nails
Coffin is a unique nail shape often used interchangeably with ballerina nails. However, they are slightly different. They’re easily confused, but the difference is in how the edges meet the tip of the nail. Coffin nails are angular like a coffin, whereas ballerina nails come to a softer square tip like a ballerina slipper. Both nail shapes can be short, medium, or long.
Natural nails can be filed into a coffin shape, but it requires having enough length to create the shape. Other options include nail extensions. Nail extensions can be formed by using acrylic plastic nail tips or gel shaped into the desired shape. You can add length to nails with nail extensions if you have short nails. In other words, if you want cute coffin nails, there are plenty of options to get the look as there are many amazing colors!
Cute Pink Coffin Nails
Pink is a cute color, but pink has many moods. A soft pink is soft while hot pink commands attention.
Cute Black Coffin Nails
Black coffin nails are classically cute.
Cute Orange Coffin Nails
Orange coffin nails are as cute as tangerines and perfect for the summer.
Cute Natural Coffin Nails
Natural coffin nails can refer to the natural, earthy hues or to natural nails formed into a coffin shape. Either way, both look gorgeous.
With such a variety of nail designs to suit individual tastes, it’s obvious cute nails aren’t a one-size-fits-all type of nail aesthetic. So, use the guide as a resource to redefine and reshape what’s cute!