Trust Me—These Are the Chic Summer Nail Colours You'll Want to Try This Season

When it comes to nail colours, there are two types of people in this world. There those who walk into a nail salon know exactly what nail colour they want (I can hazard a guess that 1) you're committed to your usual neutral or red nail polish colours, 2), you know the exact shade name to request as you walk into the salon pre-mani, and 3) your nail technician knows your nail colour choice before you've even sat down in the chair). Then, there are those who lay their eyes on a wall of nail polish bottles in the salon and immediately feel indecision take hold. Should you go for a bright nail colour? Or opt for the "clean girl" neutrals? And what about nail art, or tapping into nail trends such as blushing nails or milky nails? Choosing your manicure colour is tricky business.

I tend to fall into the latter camp of indecisive nail colour choosers. When it comes to summer nail colours, however, I favour experimentation. This is the time of year to throw caution to the wind and try something new. While I'm usually a neutrals kind of gal when it comes to my nails (Chanel's Le Vernis Ballerina is my current milky-pink obsession), I've seen so many fun nail designs lately on my social feeds that I just had to share them with you. Don't worry, there are plenty of timeless nail colours in the mix too, just in case you're not ready to venture too far from your nail colour comfort zone. And if you're DIY-ing your manicure at home this summer, you're in luck. All of the top nail techs have been experimenting with nail polish on their feeds lately, so we know the exact shades that can give you the same results at home. Scroll on to see the summer nail colours dominating in 2023. 

1. Muted Blue

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While we saw the rise of deep cobalt blue last summer, for 2023, it's all about those muted pastel blues. Like your favourite pair of jeans, baby blue can be surprisingly wearable while bringing a summer refresh to your fingertips. As soon as I saw manicurist Iram Shelton showcasing Chanel's Le Vernis in Muse on IG, the hue immediately went to the top of my wish list to try—it's the perfect understated blue.

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2. Glazed Orange

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Like open a can of San Pelligrino Aranciata, this glistening orange screams summer. I'm seeing more and ore nail techs experiment with chrome powder in citrus hues of orange and lemon, and it's the perfect summer update for the glazed doughnut nail trend. Shelton used OPI's Standing In Stilettos polish to achieve the chrome effect without the need for gel or chrome powder, and the end result is so stunning.

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3. Renaissance Silver


(Image credit: @nailsbymh)

Maybe it's because we're all opting for silver jewellery right now, or maybe it's because Beyoncé's in the UK with her Renaissance World Tour this summer, but silver nails are everywhere right now. Silver feels refreshing, again, and looks great as a French tip detail or applied all-over the nails.

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4. Milky White

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Every nail technician I speak to says that milky nails are among their most requested nail colours right now—they are not going anywhere for summer. And I'm not at all surprised. We've seen the sheer white nail polish trend gain momentum for a while now, and when Sofia Richie wore the look for her recent wedding rehearsal dinner, she had all of us running to buy OPI's Funny Bunny, which her nail technician Georgia Rae used on her nails. You'll see all the best nail techs using the shade too, which is the perfect sheer white with one coat.

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5. Summer Pastels

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Pastels of every variation are dominating my feed right now, it's hard to choose just one hue. This is why I love celebrity nail manicurist Betina Goldstein's pastel French, using a different hue on each nail. When I recently had a manicure with nail tech Harriet Westmoreland (who tends to the nails of Zendaya and Rochelle Humes, FYI) she told me that it's best to pick three different hues for a French manic, alternating the colours along the tips of your nails. I also had a sneak peek at Chanel's nail stickers, which come as part of a set with three polishes and are a chic touch as accent nail art.

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6. Mermaidcore Iridescents


(Image credit: @themaniclub)

Mermaidcore has officially made its way to our nails ahead of the release of The Little Mermaid, and I'm here for it. I'm seeing more and more iridescent nails polishes landing on the beauty desk, and they provide a dream-like effect to your fingertips that works particularly well in summer—the way the sun hits these polishes is next-level. Look for polishes that have a dual-chrome finish; purples and blues look particularly pretty right now.

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7. Aura Glaze

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We saw the rise of aura nails and glazed nails take off last year, but this time around, the two trends are combining for this ethereal result that is subtle and ultra-pretty (scroll to the close-up video of celebrity nail tech Zola Ganzorigt's glazed aura nails for Jenna Dewan). You'll find that most nail techs achieve the aura by using an airbrush gun in the salon, however, if you're looking to recreate it at home, you can use a nail sponge to diffuse nail polish onto the centre of the nail. Chrome powders are favoured with gel polish to achieve the glazed effect, however, if you're just using polish you could instead apply an iridescent polish on top to add the glazed effect.

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8. Chili Red


(Image credit: @nailartbyqueenie)

If there's a summer nail colour that is forever timeless, it's a bright red nail polish. I know friends who are loyalists to their red nail polishes and could probably spot their favourite from a mile off. OPI's Big Apple Red is a well-loved classic that is hard to beat, and Chanel's Incendiaire is the perfect bright red that looks chic on fingertips and as a pedicure colour too.

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Up Next, These Are the Only 2023 Nail Trends That You Need to Know

Beauty Editor, Who What Wear UK

Eleanor Vousden is the beauty editor of Who What Wear UK. She was previously deputy editor at Hairdressers Journal, health writer at Woman & Home and junior beauty editor at beauty website Powder. She has also contributed to Wallpaper and Elle Collections with written and styling work.

Working as a beauty journalist since 2015 after graduating in fashion journalism at the London College of Fashion, she has been highly commended at the BSME Talent Awards and also contributed to Powder, winning Website of the Year at the PPA Awards for her work in beauty journalism.

Eleanor’s journalistic focus is to provide readers with honest and helpful beauty content. Through words, video and live broadcast, she has interviewed several celebrity makeup artists, hairstylists and top dermatologists throughout her career. She has a particular interest in finding solutions for acne and eczema, which she has experienced firsthand. She has also amassed a large collection of fragrances and can never say no to a new candle.

When she’s not writing or testing the latest beauty product or treatments, she’s on the seafront in her hometown of Brighton and Hove, where she lives with her partner.