Colorless doesn’t necessarily mean boring! Check out this list of 55 of our favorite clear nail designs. From understated to loud and proud, you’ll be able to find a design for any occasion.
Walking into the salon, or cracking open your polish collection and being met with an array of colors can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Next time, take a chance to stop and think about how many possibilities having a blank campus opens up. From taking advantage of the transparent space with gemstones and pearls, or using a neutral slate to make overlapping designs pop- there’s a clear nail design for anyone and everyone!
Arguably the best part of going for a clear nail design is how personalizable the looks are. Since you’re not limited to any one color scheme, any of the nail designs on this list can look harmonious with the rest of your ensemble. As if the world of polish wasn’t vast enough already, opening your world up to clear designs is truly a whole new ballgame.
1. Fit For Royalty
Go polish-free for your next manicure! Instead of the traditional mani, put your nail glue to use and apply jewels and decals of varying colors and styles to best showcase your inner personality- in a way fit for royalty.
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2. Stay Wavy
Drawing thin waves on top of a transparent base is a look that will never go out of fashion. The simplicity of the look heightens the appeal, and you’ll be out of the salon in no time flat. Don’t let the minimalism of this style of nail art fool you- simple they may be, boring they are not!
3. Celebrate Good Times
If confetti and glitter don’t make you think of celebrating the good times, we don’t know what will! Keep the party going after the bar’s last call with this mixture of encapsulated nail decals and glitter appliques.
4. Hugs and Kisses
The flirty and romantic nature of this set is perfect for Valentine’s Day, but in all honesty, love is a mantra to radiate all year long. We love the hand-drawn look of the doodles on each nail, they remind us of the lovestruck notes we would draw in our notebooks during class.
5. Scrapbook Nails
This is among the most open forms of self-expression we’ve seen on a nail design, and for that, we are obsessed. Pick and choose a variety of nail stickers, decals, and jewels that best showcase your personality or message you’re trying to send and glue away! Try not to put too much thought into where each piece goes- the beauty of this design is the spontaneity.
6. Starry Starry Night
Use your natural nail color as the base tone for your own personal galaxy, right on your fingertips! By covering your nails in layers of sheer polish and star decals, you’ll give your nail art a complex twist that’ll make them stand out among the rest.
7. Simply Pretty
A nude base completely rids your natural nails of any texture or discoloration, making them the perfect choice for anyone looking to keep an understated feel to their designs. However, adding touches like gold foil and holographic jewels is a simple way to elevate a sheer base and make it something eye-catching.
8. An Ombre Twist
The ombre manicure took the nail community by storm. While it’s been a couple of years since this style was in its prime, you can bring new life to this classic by adding some fluttering friends to a choice nail or two!
9. Detailed Florals
While we’re huge fans of the dotted nail art flower, sometimes we’re in the mood for something a little more intricate. Recreate this look with the help of nail stickers or transparent nail tattoos, and you’ll wield the same results as spending hours with black polish and a nail brush.
10. The Classic French Tip
If there’s any nail design that is universally known and loved, it’s the french tip. Conceived in California in the 1970s, this classic look didn’t start gaining momentum until it hit Parisian runways, earning it its famous name. Due to its utilization of your natural nail below the tip, this is the most popular clear nail design out there.
11. An Abstract Exhibition
Keeping on track with current nail trends, this look features both negative space and an abstract aesthetic that’ll keep you staring at your fingers all day long. To further the artistic flair, try painting the swirls on using primary colors a la Piet Mondrian.
12. Springtime Simplicity
Keeping floral nail decals present on the tip of your nail rather than the base will keep your manicure looking extra clean and pristine. To mimic the look and feel of springtime blossoms, ask your tech to encapsulate pastel-toned florals on your tips! The addition of rhinestones near the base of an accent finger emphasizes the femininity of this look.
13. An Edgy Dream
If you’re into darker nail styles, don’t limit yourself to an all-black manicure! Deep-toned tips on a clear base make for an edgy beginner’s style. For those looking to add extra sharpness to the look, go for a geometric tip and a blood-dripping design that can easily be achieved with a dotting tool.
14. A Timeless Touch
We can’t forget the days when Essie’s shade Ballet Slippers were the only thing on people’s fingertips. While some may have grown out of the pale pink aesthetic, there’s something so magnetic about the look of baby pink nails that we had to add it to this list. Look for a sheer polish with buildable coverage to allow your natural sheen to shine through.
15. A Geometric Accent
Dress up your french tips with the help of a black striper! If using striping tools is an intimidating thought, you can rest easy since this look doesn’t require too steady of a hand. Simply adding a single black line on each nail is enough to revamp a style classic.
16. Psychedelic Swirls
Similar to #2 on this list, the look of swirls is a forgiving manicure that doesn’t require too much nail art experience to nail. While the difference between a transparent base and a nude base may seem minuscule, going for an opaque backdrop will give you a more finished look.
17. Walking On Sunshine
There’s a lot of hesitation with putting yellow polish on your nails, but you can still keep your fingertips looking stain-free and healthy by choosing a couple of nails to keep transparent. These nails can be kept clear, or you may choose to add some glitter detailing to emphasize the sunshine shade on your other fingers.
18. Teddy Bear Tips
3D nail decals are making a resurgence, and what better way to welcome them back into fashion than with these adorable teddy bear nails? To highlight your furry friend, place teddy bear foils and heart-shaped decals on a transparent statement nail or two.
19. An Ode To Marshmallow
What better way to show your love for your favorite DJ than by rocking his logo on your nails? You can keep your nails looking clear with the assistance of a thin white polish instead of something more deeply pigmented. Keep a nail transparent to show off some bedazzlement.
20. Frosted Florals
Transparent nails can leave your fingers feeling empty, but you can keep your confidence and the crystal clear look of your nails intact with a frosted finish to your fingertips.
21. A Classy Finish
If a traditional white french tip is a little too girly for your taste, take a walk on the other end of the spectrum and try out a black tip. Adding a starburst decal will give an interstellar dressing to this midnight shaded twist.
22. Pastel Goth
Pastel colors on top of transparent nails may sound girly, but the power lies in your choice of design! White flames surrounding pastel heart decals add a dark feel to an otherwise girly look.
23. Something’s Fishy
Upon first look at this set, your eyes may initially gravitate towards the 3D goldfish (and they rightfully should!). However, we argue that the detail that ties this look together is the water droplets on each nail, giving your fingers a permanent wet look.
24. Florida Orange Nails
Citrus-coated tips will give your fingers a refreshing finish that’s perfect for the upcoming warm months! To make them look extra juicy, add a high-shine topcoat.
25. Glitter Tips
Looking for a style that balances a clear nail with a french tip? A glitter tip can easily be achieved with small grain glitter polish and a cosmetic sponge, and is sheer enough to showcase the natural shade of your nail.
26. Build Me Up Buttercup
For the nail art apprentice, the dotting tool is probably the tool that marks the start of your journey. Put that tool to good use by painting some daisies on your fingers!
27. Understated Glamour
When it doubt, glitter it out! Pairing a transparent nail with a sheer glitter polish adds an iridescent feel to your nail art. Use some gold foil on the tips, and you’ll be left with a set that’s red carpet ready.
28. Happy To Bee Me
For the artfully inclined, think of a transparent or nude nail base as the backdrop to your next masterpiece. If you’re worried about messing up, go for abstract designs that tend to be more forgiving.
29. Call Me Sprite
This look is for the ones with magic running through their veins! Placing silver-toned jewels on a clear nail emulates the look of glass on your fingertips. They will catch the light, exuding the radiance you have inside of you.
30. The Hand Of A Queen
Almond nails are among the most wearable shape for your fingertips, but you can exude long-nail confidence with the help of birthstone decals and metallic painted tips.
31. Spring In My Step
Albeit simple, the look of dotting tool flowers on the ends of transparent tips screams springtime! Look for polishes in a similar color family to give this manicure a more cohesive look.
32. A Dark Fantasy
You’ve seen your share of nail decals, but have you ever thought about nail jewelry? While clear nails may be thought of as basic, modifying your transparent tips with corresponding piercings is anything but!
33. Frosty Fingers
Some people just exude “cool” energy, not unlike this set! The tips are dripping with silver-based glitter, a detail that’ll keep you looking icy under pressure.
34. The Tatted Touch
Think of your transparent base as an extension of your skin and get it inked up! With the help of nail tattoos, you can mirror the look of body art on each fingertip (without the pain of a needle!).
35. Feeling Grape-ful
Those who love purple know how this color can easily consume your life. Why fight it? Instead, make it the star of the show by placing it on top of a clear base.
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36. Claw Your Heart Out
Keeping your transparent nails short and sharp will earn you a Catwoman-esque mystery. Soften up the edge with a couple of mini hearts near the point, and you’re ready for a night on the prowl.
37. An Ethereal Air
If you’re able to get your hands on some holographic nail stickers, consider yourself lucky. You can consider yourself even luckier if you’re able to pair them with a transparent base. Holo decals on a clear nail will leave you with a pearlescent finish made for a pixie.
We liken these nails to the sparkling trail left by a shooting star. Gold flecks add an otherworldly feel to a transparent tip and will have you making wishes wherever you go.
39. The Reverse French Tip
Just like the classic french manicure, this design highlights the tip of your nail- but in a whole new way. This is perfect for those who are looking to grow out of the basic mani and try something more offbeat.
40. Autumnal Minimalism
The leaf-like tip in this set adds a woodsy feel to the fingers, especially when paired with the cool-toned green on the other nails. Demure and dainty, this look can be customized to fit other seasons as well!
41. Multicolored Jelly Nails
Colorful, super sheer polishes started gaining momentum after they were seen on the hands of multiple KPop stars. While the colors are gorgeous alone, you can steal the spotlight with some carefully placed rhinestones.
42. Pretty In Pink
Made for the inner romantic, these transparent nails have varying heart details encapsulated in the tip. It’s a simple, feminine way to wear your heart on your sleeve- or in this case, your fingertips!
43. Bling Is No Thing
Introduce color to your transparent manicure with the help of multicolored jewels and gold or silver nail art. Don’t be afraid to mix metals- there are no rules when it comes to this nail design!
44. Rebel Without A Cause
Let’s get lengthy! The longer the nail, the more room you have to wear both a negative space tip and a standard french tip in one style.
45. Crystal Clear
Longer, transparent nails are the perfect base for the french manicure. Since they’re entirely clear, adding white tips gives your fingers a geode feel that looks downright elegant.
46. Cold As Ice
For those looking to grow out their natural nails, ask your technician for some textured tips like those pictured here! They’re clear, so they blend with the natural nail seamlessly, but have a striking enough look to keep your hands feeling pretty.
47. A Sprinkle Of Pixie Dust
While magic wands don’t exist (yet), you can pretend like the fairy queen herself has sprinkled your fingertips with pixie dust. Look for a loose glitter polish with a chunkier finish to try this look out yourself!
48. The Other Mother
Halloween should never be limited to a singular month of the year! Stay spooky all year round with these transparent claw nails, featuring an inky heart trapped in a cobweb.
49. So Fresh And So Clean
Transparent nails are given a breath of new life with a singular coating of glitter polish. This set is easy to do on your own, has a foolproof application process, and will look like you spent more time on your fingers than you did.
50. Black N’ Gold
Glitz and glamor meet the dark side of things in this manicure, where uplifting shades of white and gold are intercepted by a stripe of deep black. On a nude nail, the colors look harmonious, and the intricate design can be easily spotted.
51. Loud And Proud
Pay homage to the days of Jersey Shore and Sean Paul with this striking nail design. Matching hot pink and zebra print is an acquired taste, but when done well, they’ll steal the show every time.
52. Cool Toned Flames
Get the best of both worlds with this minty-toned flame manicure. Want to mimic the look of sparks flying off the fire? Swipe on a single coat of holographic glitter before painting on the flame.
53. Gold Geometric Stripes
Remember that you don’t need a striper or polish to create intricate patterns like this one. Nail striping tape makes drawing straight lines as easy as can be. Pair these stripes with a corresponding foil for a more abstract feel.
54. Another Piece Of My Heart
Everything about this nail set is sugar-sweet- from the shape of the decals to the pastel tones. Thanks to the transparent base, the holographic finish of the decals is on full display.
55. Let’s Get Personal
What better way to showcase those most important to you than to wear their initials on your fingertips? Leave each of your fingers completely transparent, the only existing detail being the first letter of their (or your) name.
What are clear nail designs?
Simply put, clear nail designs utilize the shade of your natural nail as the base of your design. For those blessed with lengthy fingernails, that means that applying a transparent base coat will mark the end of your nail-prep before you go in with further personalization.
If you’re one to get your nails done professionally, your technician will apply clear nail tips to your natural nails and use that as the base for your designs. For extra strength and protection, you may even opt for a nude gel or acrylic monomer to give your nail to somebody, while still preserving the nude undertone that makes the design “clear”.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of base coat should I use for clear nail designs?
When it comes to clear nail designs, look for a nail-strengthening base coat. It’s important to have a sort of protective shield between your nails and any glues or polishes you’ll be using to make your designs.
If you’re using a sheer white or pink color on top of your base coat, finding a crystal clear base coat is best. However, if you’re going to be doing any sort of french tip style, you can even opt for a pinky-toned base coat to make your natural nails look healthier.
How much do clear nail designs typically cost?
- If you’re asking for a clear nail design at a salon, expect it to cost between $50-$90, depending on whether you’re getting acrylics, gels, or your natural nails done. The price also depends on the intricacy of the design.
- Crazy as it is, clear nail designs don’t cost any less than their colorful polish counterparts. We’re big supporters of learning to paint your nails at home, and since so many of these designs are novice-friendly, we think it’s totally doable.
What nail shape do clear nail designs work with?
- All nail shapes would look fabulous with clear nail designs!
- If you’re going for more striking looks, we think a long almond or coffin-shaped nail would be stunning. For more natural looks, a short square or rounded nail can give you a demure finish.