Minimalist guide to chic nail art

The biggest manicure trends change with the seasons, but there are a few designs that always look chic. Here is a step-by-step guide to a minimalist manicure that can be easily achieved that are both on-trend and timeless.

Cow Print: Long, almond tips painted a crisp white, with imperfect black splotches sprinkled over the top, is the chic nail trend you need. But straight-up black-and-white isn’t the only way to incorporate the pattern into your manicure.  You can add a subtle metallic twist to your cow-print nails with a thin stroke of color along the cuticle. Another route is to alternate between a cow pattern and solid pastel blue. And speaking of pastel blue, there’s no rule that says the cow print itself has to be black and white, you can create colorful interpretations of the look.

Thumbnail Accent: From yellow smiley faces to heart-shaped embroidery, thumbs can show off the most intricate nail-art designs and is a subtle way to upgrade any simple manicure. You can be as expressive as you want on your thumbs, and then, you still have the classic look of a polished manicure on every other fingernail. If you don’t have a steady hand, just use a sticker.

Gradient Nails: Trendy and stupidly simple, the blended gradient nail-art trend is as easy as it looks: Every finger gets a different color, and that’s that. The key to a cohesive multicolored manicure is to choose your polishes strategically, go for a range of shades in the same color family. Paint each nail a different color, and you get a shade transition that feels purposefully mismatched.

Cuticle striping: To get the minimalist’s-dream cuticle stripe on your own, pull out your clear base and top coat, an accent polish, a thin striping brush, and a piece of aluminum foil. Start with a sheer coat of base polish to even out the nail bed. Then dip a skinny brush in the color polish and wipe any excess by running the brush along the aluminum foil.

To get the right curve, start the stripe as thin as possible, then gradually increasing in thickness toward the middle of the nail bed.  Don’t worry if your line thins out mid-way — you can always do a second coat if you need. And make sure you’re painting the actual nail, and not the surrounding skin or cuticle. Keep some nail polish remover and a brush nearby to fix any mistakes. To finish, brush on a thick top coat.

Ombré Fade: You can get creative with your faded-ombré fingernails by going light or nude near your cuticles and blending into a contrasting shade, like bright white, towards the tips. First, grab that unsalvageable Beauty Blender you’ve been meaning to toss, and dip it in acetone to dilute your accent polish. This sheers the color and makes the tonal transition super-soft. Then paint nail polish over the surface of the sponge and dab the color right over your base polish, almost like a stamp. Faded ombré manicure is that easy.

Typography: Speaking of stickers, the typography trend is as easy as sticking the appropriate letters across your digits. Go with a rainbow of colors, spelling out our personal favorite word.