The Negative-Space Nail Trend Is Still Going Strong—14 Looks We're Wearing

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(Image credit: @betina_goldstein; @raelondon; @imarninails)

As beauty editors, we keep a finger to the pulse of all beauty trends, taking a particular shine to those that refuse to fade away despite the rise and fall of aesthetic-led movements and looks that make it off the runway and onto the streets. Taking cues from fashion people and nail experts is the easiest way to ID them before the trend cycle takes another shift. Luckily, you have us as a resource to keep up with them while staying true to the timeless nail looks that just work.

Your days of wondering what nail design to get after you arrive at the salon are over. No one needs the stress of flipping though endless nail shades in a folder or scrambling to look up inspo pics on Pinterest, which can be fun but might result in instant feelings of regret once you get a good look at your nails post-appointment. Recently, negative-space manicures have been on the rise, and we've pulled together our favorite nail looks from top celebrity nail artists and educators, including the likes of Betina Goldstein, Iram Shelton, Brittney Boyce, and more.

Below, take a look at our favorite designs, from ditzy cow prints and retro waves to Coco Chanel–inspired minimalistic dots and outlined French tips. Pro tip: Screenshot or bookmark these nail looks for quick access while in a time crunch and inspiration while on the go.

Bright Whites

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(Image credit: @iramshelton)

There's truly nothing better than a flawless white manicure, especially when it dials up the intrigue by playing with negative space). Shelton, an OPI global ambassador, shows us how it's done with this futuristic nail look featuring an inch or two of negative space from the top of the nail. She styles her manicure with a stunning ring stack by Astrid & Miyu.

Barely-There Mani

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(Image credit: @nailsbyzola)

Every time we find ourselves drawn to neutral nails, a pop of color captures our attention and has us scrambling to book our next nail appointment. Above, Outer Banks star Madelyn Cline shows off her minimalistic nail look by celebrity manicurist Zola Ganzorigt. A playful take on a classic French manicure, these nails feature a milky pink base elevated by an electric blue–outlined tip.

Contrast Colors

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(Image credit: @raelondon)

A negative-space manicure offers the perfect opportunity to play with contrast colors. Shades of black and white always look effortlessly chic, but placing them on opposing sides of the nail (just under the cuticle and near the tip) creates even more eye-catching dimension, like international celebrity manicurist Georgia Rae accomplishes in the manicure above.

Minimal Shapes

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(Image credit: @betinagoldstein)

We haven't stopped thinking about this Chanel-inspired negative-space nail art by celebrity manicurist Betina Golstein since it appeared on our Instagram feed a year ago. These short and simple nails feature Chanel Beauty nail polish shades Boy de Chanel Nail Colour in Black and Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Dénudé, the latter of which is, unfortunately, no longer available.

Retro Waves

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(Image credit: @nails_of_la)

We're calling it. Seventies-inspired negative-space nails are on their way to becoming the manicure of choice for fashion people. These ones by Boyce, a Los Angeles–based celebrity manicurist, combine peach and orange tones at the tips of the nails in a wavy French tip.

Abstract French

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(Image credit: @iramshelton)

Shelton created this abstract design for celebrity makeup artist Nikki Wolff. While Wolff's pretty jewelry is definitely worth the glance, it's the flawless peachy-pink base, wavy black tips, and nail piercing on the thumb that we'll be copying.

Summer Shades

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(Image credit: @imarninails)

Created by manicurist Imarni of Imarni Nails for singer Paloma Faith, this color-filled manicure is a simple and easy way to pull off the negative-space trend. They're altogether bright and youthful—the perfect match for all your spring and summer looks.

Clean Lines

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(Image credit: @raelondon)

This take on a negative-space nail design by Rae is the stuff clean girl dreams are made of. To create this look, she used OPI's best-selling Put It in Neutral as the base and added a striking streak of white down the middle.

Polished Blues

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(Image credit: @iramshelton)

Shelton created this swirly manicure using one coat of Essie's Allure and Bikini So Teeny for the blue detailing. Call us obsessed.

Moody Cow Print

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(Image credit: @betinagoldstein)

Cow print is a notoriously tricky to pull off, but Goldstein clearly knows her way around a manicure inspired by the pasture-grazing animal. For a realistic touch, each patch of color is a different size and shape.

Tuxedo French

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(Image credit: @iramshelton)

You'll want to save this one for inspiration. Coined the "tuxedo French," Shelton created this elegant manicure using three OPI shades: Lady in Black, Alpine Snow, and Bubble Bath. They also happen to be the colors salons almost always have.

White Swirls

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(Image credit: @imarninails)

How elegant is this manicure by Imarni? These nails feature a wash of milky white as the base with delicate, eye-catching swirls that are unique to every finger.

Blue on Blue

The Hang Edit 1

(Image credit: @thehangedit)

Nail artist Hang Nguyen is known for her bright and playful nail designs, and this brilliant blue manicure follows suit. This fun negative-space manicure features multiple shades of blue in modern shapes.

Carved-Out Heart

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(Image credit: @betinagoldstein)

In case you haven't noticed, heart nail designs are on the rise. Take a look at how Goldstein created her own with a negative-space twist using Chanel's Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Interdit and Le Gel Coat Longwear Top Coat!

Maya Thomas
Assistant Beauty Editor
Maya Thomas is Who What Wear's assistant beauty editor based just outside of Seattle, Washington. Her strong love for all things beauty and fashion stems from a strong childhood interest in the fine arts. During a gap year spent in Paris studying the history of French fashion, she shifted her focus to English literature and journalism as a student at Loyola Marymount University with the goal of one day pursuing a career in fashion. After graduating in May 2021, Maya began freelancing for as a contributing commerce writer while also building a following on her lifestyle blog, When she's not writing, Maya spends her free time catching up on reading, perusing art galleries, and enjoying a night out at the ballet every now and then.