27 Simple (But Effective) Nail Designs for People Who Just Don't Want the Fuss

Nail art is everywhere right now. From bright, colourful designs to dainty and pretty creations, it's safe to say we're spoilt for choice when it comes to inspiration for our nail appointments. With that in mind, though, is anybody else feeling a little (dare we say it) overwhelmed? Don't get us wrong. We're all for embracing our creative sides when it comes to our nails, but the minimalists inside of us are itching for a break from the colourful chaos of the nail trends of recent seasons. We hate to say it, but we're ready to embrace simplicity.

And no, that doesn't mean we want to wear our nails bare. Rather, we just want our nail designs to be easier to wear, more understated and, most importantly, easier to maintain. Because while busy nail art looks great at first, after a couple of weeks of wear and tear, it's time to call the salon again. Simple nail designs, however, eradicate the risk of clashing outfits, work with seasonal transitions and require less upkeep. So if you too are ready to dial down your nail choices, keep scrolling for 25 simple nail designs you're going to want to show to your manicurist.

Rainbow Nails


(Image credit: @THEMANICLUB)

Proving that rainbow nails don't have to be bright, we're head over heels for this tonal purple look. If you're going for block-coloured polish, be sure to reach for a super-glossy topcoat to keep things looking chic and (pardon the pun) polished.



While we're used to seeing tonal, ombré rainbow nails, something about the clashing chaos of this manicure is screaming out to us.


(Image credit: @THEMANICLUB)

If full-blown rainbow nails aren't your thing, why not opt for rainbow tips instead?


(Image credit: @IMARNINAILS)

We couldn't be more in love with this design if we tried. Keeping the majority of the nail looking bare with a nude polish is the perfect way to dial down an otherwise busy design.


(Image credit: @OLIVEANDJUNE)

Keep rainbow nails summer-ready by reaching for pink and orange sunset shades.

French Tips



Nothing says simple elegance quite like a classic French mani. Make like celebrity manicurist Harriet Westmoreland and keep your tips super skinny for a chic take on the timeless design.


(Image credit: @iramshelton)

OPI nail ambassador Iram Shelton calls this the 'Tuxedo French'. We love it.


(Image credit: @BETINA_GOLDSTEIN)

Just because your nail design is simple doesn't mean it can't be creative—and this cow-print French mani proves it.


(Image credit: @BUFFCS)

Dubbed the "double French," these outlined tips scream low-maintenance while looking inexplicably cool.


(Image credit: @OLIVEANDJUNE)

If there's one nail design we're itching to try this summer, it's this rainbow French-tip manicure, ideal for those who like to live a simple life—just with a bit of colour.


(Image credit: @BETINA_GOLDSTEIN)

This look takes the concept of the skinny French to new levels, and we love how dainty the tips of this manicure are. Plus, it's got us thinking of the countless ways we can incorporate pastels in our upcoming French manis—the possibilities are endless.

Dainty Accents



The simple mani reaches new heights with this design. Paint nails with a clear gloss, keeping any sort of design limited to one nail. This mint heart is unbelievably cute.


(Image credit: @BUFFCS)

Have you ever seen a chicer nail design than this? We think not. The best bit is it requires little effort to execute. Look for metallic stickers, and secure them in place with a coat of clear varnish.


(Image credit: @THEMANICLUB)

For another nail-sticker idea, paint nails in a natural-looking nude and use stickers to create something your free hand wouldn't be able to achieve. It's not cheating, we promise.



A skinny French with a dainty accent heart on the ring finger is a recipe for simple-manicure greatness.


(Image credit: @BETINA_GOLDSTEIN)

We'll admit this design isn't simple to create. However, if your nail tech has the skills, we're obsessed with how this intricate starfish accent gives off understated coolness.

Negative Space



This is how negative-space nail designs are supposed to look. If you're asking us, this look totally redefines cool-girl nails.


(Image credit: @PARAGONNAILS)

If you struggle to keep on top of nail regrowth, this negative-space design will last for weeks without looking like you need a trip to the salon.



Block polish, French tips and negative space? It sounds like a lot, but in practice, it's a simple, understated masterpiece.


(Image credit: @BETINA_GOLDSTEIN)

Create the illusion of a French manicure without any of the fuss by keeping tips and nail beds free from polish.



Black-and-nude nails are having a real moment, and this geometric design is the crème de la crème. 

Nail-Bed Accents


(Image credit: @BETINA_GOLDSTEIN)

Look closely, and you'll see the subtle metallic accents on the nail beds of the design. This is simple nail design at its finest.


(Image credit: @iramshelton)

How chic is this silver half moon?



Balance a bright French mani by incorporating a super-fine nail-bed accent in a matching polish.



The best bit about this design is that you really don't have to go to the salon to get expert results. Simply paint nails in a sheer nude and use a dotting tool to apply your spots.


(Image credit: @BETINA_GOLDSTEIN)

A pastel French manicure with matching nail-bed accents? Sign us up. 



The mini heart accent has been in the nail spotlight for the entirety of 2022 with no sign of stepping out any time soon. This simple design couldn't be any chicer.

Next up, I'm seeing these five nail designs all over Instagram, and I want in.

Freelance Beauty Editor

Shannon Lawlor is a renowned beauty journalist and has contributed to Who What Wear’s beauty content since 2020. As a leading beauty editor, expert and brand consultant, she has over eight years of experience working for some of the industry’s most esteemed titles, including Who What Wear (of course), Glamour UK, Stylist, Refinery29 and Fabulous. Having also worked behind the scenes with some of the industry’s biggest brands and retailers, Shannon has a unique insight into what people really want from their beauty routines. Understanding that beauty lovers seek honest, open and responsible advice, she has it made her mission to demystify the intimidating world of beauty, taking a no-frills approach to the most relatable topics. While Shannon is the first to admit she doesn’t hold the answer to every beauty question out there, she is dedicated to sharing her expert insights in a bid to help. As a self-proclaimed lazy girl, Shannon has an affinity for easy-to-use, foolproof beauty products and has made it her mission to scope out the best of the best. When she’s not working, Shannon is likely soaking in the bath or giving no-holds-barred beauty reviews on Instagram from her bathroom floor.