Buh-Bye, Basic Nails: The Coolest Nail Art Designs to Try for Summer 2019

There’s nothing like sporting a fresh eye-catching mani on your fingers to signal the official start of summer. You become an instant hand-talker, subconsciously posing for Instagram pics with your hands holding all of the things, and may actually enjoy hailing a cab on a hotter-than-hot day. 

But when it comes to narrowing down what nail art design to get on your nails, sifting through all the options can be almost as overwhelming as creating a custom salad at Sweetgreen. In an effort to ease some of that anxiety (after all, a manicure should be a relaxing experience), we turned to a trio of trusted nail experts to give us the lowdown on all things trending nails for the summer: Nadine Abramcyk, co-founder of Tenoverten; Kristin Pulaski, owner of Paintbucket Nails; and Essie Global Lead Educator Rita Remar. 

So what can you expect the fashion set to have on hand this summer? Lots of spins on the French manicure (now it comes with a floral twist and in Barbie pink), cow print is officially a thing, and, for those that like a more subdued look but taken up a notch, many manis with neutral hues and subtle designs that still give you that summery je ne sais quoi. 

Read on for our favorite nail art inspo and must-have products recommended by the pros.

Floral French

"Every girl deserves [nail] flowers. A perfect summer twist on the classic French mani, the Floral French will give you ethereal, chic vibes perfect for garden parties or simply to rock in your day to day as an unexpected, feminine burst of color." — Kristin Pulaski


“A simple dot against a lighter background or a simple French manicure feels quite fresh for summer 2019." — Nadine Abramcyk

Picnic Gingham

As seen coming down the Opening Ceremony spring 2019 runway, black and white gingham nails are bold yet positively charming.

Mismatched + Bright

“Mismatched nails give the effect of nail art without any detail work and are perfect for those who can never pick just one color. This look is achieved using five or more complementary shades and polishing a different shade on each finger. This look is especially great for the summer using vibrant neons like Soles on Fire or Tangoed in Love from Essie's summer 2019 collection.” — Rita Remar

Simple With a Twist

“Simple nail art is the way to go for a summer nail design look. We’re seeing people opt for a negative space half moon with a solid color, which is a chic yet subtle nail design and a great way to also make the nail look longer. I’m also loving linear nail art, a simple line down the middle of the nail looks great and even a bit like a beachy stripe” — Nadine Abramcyk


Moon and Stars

Moon and Stars Manicure


Courtesy of Micaela English

“Another play on the French mani, this summer design is the perfect balance between classic simplicity and nautical elegance and is sure to complement any look.” — Kristin Pulaski

Cow Print

“Bold prints are another trending manicure this season. Try the unlikely yet irresistibly cute Instagram hit of cow-print nails made famous by Ariana Grande and Kendall Jenner.” — Rita Remar

Something Blue

“Powdery blue hues, ivory silhouettes, and a geometric pop remind us of summer clouds against a city skyline; soft with just the right amount of edge." — Kristin Pulaski


“You could also take a cue from the fashion print of the summer and polish tie-dye nails.” — Rita Remar 

Tennis Ball

Reminiscent of the yellow highlighter you had in high school, but with a posh fashion-forward twist.

Peach Bellini

This reminds us of our favorite brunch cocktail. A frothy peach hue with bubbles of glitter and sunset hues at the tips.

A Splash of Sparkle

"I'm loving a concentrated glitter on a negative space accentuating the corner of a nail, across the tip and down one side to the cuticle. Smith & Cult has some great glitters for this, I especially love shattered souls because of the variety of particle size." — Celebrity nail artist Holly Falcone