Top gel manis that will have you looking picture-perfect for any occasion. Putting in the time, money and effort to get a fresh mani only to have it chip in one or two days can be extremely frustrating. If this has happened to you, then you know exactly what we’re talking about.
Why even bother getting a manicure when it’s just going to get ruined shortly after it’s done? Thankfully, for those of us looking for a slightly more permanent solution, there are options. Can you guess what we’re talking about? If you said gel nails, you’re right.
If you’re a nail enthusiast then this term won’t come as a surprise to you. If not, don’t worry. We’re going to tell you everything you need to know about gel nails. Let’s get to the fun part. Here are our top gel nail looks of all time.
1. Classic Red Gel Nails
Although gel nails are a more unconventional alternative to the regular mani, it doesn’t mean you can’t go with a classic cut and color. With a cherry red hue, modest length and glossy finish, you can never go wrong.
2. Red & Pink Gel Nails
Speaking of unconventional, despite red and pink being traditionally off-limits in the fashion and beauty worlds, we can’t get enough of it. The pink french tip is sweet and subtle and the dainty red hearts add the perfect touch of romance. Make an even bolder move by alternating the color scheme on each hand.
3. Blue Tip Gel Nail Design
As we saw in the previous manicure, french tips are the perfect way to achieve that chic, understated aesthetic. If minimalism is your thing then this touch of blue is just what your nails needed.
4. Sparkling Green Gel Nails
Or, if blue isn’t speaking to you a sparkling green french tip is a great alternative. This gel mani features a skin-toned polish on the base with a v-shaped tip in a gorgeous pine green hue. Despite its simplistic qualities, the pointed cut of the nail provides the overall appearance with an element of edginess.
5. Blush Coffin Gel Manicure
For another safe option, a pink gel manicure is a great option. Like the color red, pink is a classic in the nail world and we are loving it displayed on these coffin nails. Pink might be safe, but the length and cut of this mani are bold.
6. Glittering Red Gel Nails
Who doesn’t love a bit of sparkle? With the glossy red finish and touches of golden bliss, this gel mani is giving us all of the festive feels. Whether it’s for the holiday season or you just love a bit of glam, these nails will not disappoint.
7. Minimal Gel Nail Design
A nude base and a subtle heart: the epitome of the minimalist aesthetic. These nails are the height of effortlessly cool and are screaming “it girl”. If you’re looking for some new content for your Pinterest account then you’ve found it.
8. Red Hearts Gel Nails
If the previous minimalist nail look was a little too minimal then try upgrading to a french manicure. The white tips will make a bigger statement while still maintaining a presence of simplicity.
9. A Little Bit Of Everything
Do you have trouble deciding on just one nail design? Then this is the gel manicure for you! This nail look has something for everyone with its diverse use of techniques including an ombre effect, sparkles, a solid polish and a french tip. What more could you want?
10. Baby Pink Gel Manicure
Okay, we are seriously crushing on these nails. The baby pink hue is too cute and the gel polish gives the manicure a gorgeous shimmer. This shade would be the perfect addition to a summer afternoon by the pool sipping lemonade.
11. Lavender Gel Nails
There’s nothing that says spring like a bright and cheerful pastel. Add a lavender gel polish to your nails to give any OOTD a fun and joyful element. To mix things up compliment the purple shade with another color such as this beautiful sky blue.
12. Grapefruit-Inspired Gel Manicure
To continue with the theme of bright and bold, these nails are screaming summer vacay. The vibrant orange hue reminds us of the inside of a grapefruit (the perfect refreshing snack on a hot summer’s day) and the subtle, golden floral detailing is just what this mani needed to complete the look.
13. Beautiful In Burgundy
In contrast to the previous vibrant orange shade, this color is edgy and reminiscent of fall. If darker hues are more your thing then this burgundy gel nail look will fit your palette perfectly. Stick with a shorter cut and almond shape for a classic look.
14. Pink Petal Gel Nails
One word: princess. There’s nothing that reminds us more of a Disney fairytale than pink hues, diamonds and roses. The ombré effect gives the manicure a beautiful seamless base and the 3D nail art brings the look to the next level. If you can’t actually be a princess, why not have princess nails?
15. Neutral Glam Gel Nail Design
Why just get a regular old white french tip when you can have one with hearts and glitter? This gel mani is understated yet elegant and is the perfect look for an event such as a prom or a wedding. And an added bonus with the gel mani- you won’t have to worry about chipping during your special moment.
16. Love Me Nails
Are you looking for an adorable Valentine’s manicure or perhaps you just need a little romance in your life? With this nail look, you can add a flirtatious fling to your life without the trouble of having to search for a guy.
RELATED: 31 Best Matte Nail Designs
17. Candy Heart Gel Nails
Speaking of Valentine’s, this holiday would not be the same without the iconic candy hearts. This gel mani incorporates these treats in a fun and creative way while maintaining an element of simplicity. The multi-colored french tip in various shades of pink is also a great touch.
18. Hot Pink Butterfly Gel Manicure
Hot pink was an it color in the ‘80s and has made a huge comeback now inspiring beauty and fashion trends all over the world. If you’re not afraid to make a statement then this gel mani will definitely do the trick. For a feminine flair add a butterfly and rhinestones.
19. Retro Wave Gel Nail Design
Another way to appeal to the era of nostalgia is by incorporating a retro nail design. The wave was an iconic print in the ‘70s and is a fun way of adding a vintage vibe to your gel mani. Combine it with a pink and white french tip and a little heart to go a step further.
20. Sparkly Gel Nails
Sometimes bringing it back to the basics is just what we needed. This gel nail look is perfect for anyone wanting to elevate their fit in a simple, tasteful and glamorous way. Nothing compliments a night of glam better than a bit of sparkle.
21. Blue Marble Gel Nail Design
If you love marble then you definitely have to try it in a gel finish. This nail look utilizes a beautiful blue shade that reminds us of the ocean and the silver sparkles add a touch of magic to the already ethereal scene.
22. Strawberry Milkshake-Inspired Gel Nails
Okay if you want your milkshake to bring all the boys to the yard then you can’t forget the matching manicure. This pink and white nail look is fun, summary and looks just like a strawberry milkshake. The boys won’t be able to resist.
23. Fairy Nails
Fairy-core has been trending all over social media as of late. For those of you not familiar with the style, it essentially describes the aesthetic which celebrates the magic in nature- not always literally (hence the fairies). Whether you love this style or perhaps are just dressing up as a fairy for a costume party, these sparkly purple french tips are the perfect go-to.
24. Fairy Nails 2.0
If you finished the last section thinking girl we need more options don’t worry, we’ve got you. If the french tips were a little too minimalist for you then this gel mani might be just what you’ve been looking for. Instead of solely relying on a french manicure, this nail look also incorporates an ombré effect as well as white and purple nail art. It maintains the ethereal aesthetic of the fairy while making a bigger statement.
25. We Belong Together Gel Nails
As you’ve probably noticed, we really can’t get enough of heart-inspired manis. Like Blake Lively was made for Ryan Reynolds, hearts were just made to be put on nails. For this look opt for a classic cherry. To contrast the hearts and make them pop even more, make sure to start with a neutral foundation such as white.
26. Black Tip Gel Nails
Sometimes we’re just in the mood for something a little darker and these black tips are exactly what we are looking for. Black can be edgy but it can also be elegant if used in the right way. This french tip design along with the single black dots is the perfect example of this. It is a daring color used in a chic way. And another bonus: as a neutral shade black will go with any fit you decide to wear.
27. Black Crystal Nail Design
This manicure is another perfect example of how black can be applied to a nail in a glamorous manner. In contrast to the previous look, this gel manicure is elaborate and daring. The black sparkles are chic and elegant while the marble effect is creative and artistic. And who can resist rhinestones? If you want to leave behind an impression then trust us when we say this will definitely be a memorable moment.
28. A Summer Sky
Summer is coming and what better way to honor it than with a summer-sky inspired nail look? This manicure captures the perfect summer day with its blue skies and butterflies (don’t you just love a good rhyme?). Waves and florals add even more by bringing the scene together perfectly.
29. Winter Red Gel Nails
We already know that you can never go wrong with a classic red nail. But if you feel like this just isn’t enough then adding a sparkly polish on top can give the manicure the elevation it needs.
30. Chocolate-Inspired Gel Nail Design
Level up your gel game by applying it in a trending color such as this chocolate brown. Chocolate brown is everything this season and is the ultimate throwback to the ‘70s. Compliment it with a contrasting shade such as white or cream and add on a little nail art to complete the look.
31. A Chocolate Gift
Your best friend may not always be there for you or your partner may not always be there for you but you know what will? Your chocolate-inspired gel nails. Well, for four weeks anyway. This manicure is similar to the previous but with a slightly more complex design. We are especially loving the gift-like nail art and the neutral palette.
32. Forever Red Gel Nails
For centuries red has been the symbol of love and passion. In the early days, women blushed their cheeks and wore red dresses to attract men. Today, things really haven’t changed that much. Except now we can also channel this energy through our nails! This gel mani is the perfect representation of love with its red hues, french tip, sparkly polish and hearts.
33. Edgy & Mysterious Gel Nail Design
If you like to live life on the edge and find yourself drawn toward the more dark and mysterious then you will love this gel nail look. With its dark, unique designs this manicure is cool and creepy. We also love the interchanging between pointy and coffin-shaped nails.
34. Black & Red Gel Manicure
If you’re tired of plain red nails then try opting for a little something extra such as nail art or mixing hues. We can not get enough of the black, white and red color trio and the cartoon hugging the heart is giving us all the feels. So adorable.
35. Ice Princess Gel Nails
We love a glittery moment and this pink and silver combo is everything. We’ve already seen the Disney princess but this nail look is giving ice princess. Bring out your girly side with this mani where too much pink and sparkles don’t exist.
36. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
“Though she is little, she is fierce!”. Umm yes Shakespeare, that is exactly how we feel about these nails! This quote felt fitting as it is taken from the play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. When you look at this manicure it resembles a magical night sky with fiery red hues and a golden magical touch- much like a midsummer night’s dream.
37. Elaborate Gel Nail Art Manicure
One of the great things about getting your nails done is that it’s a wonderful means of self-expression and this nail look is clearly showing “I’m a person who knows how to have fun”. The nail art is truly amazing and is fulfilling all of our artistic and creative dreams. Not to mention the colors that are bold and vibrant. If your personality says colorful and a little crazy, then this gel manicure is for you.
38. Tiger Print Gel Nails
Show your wild side with these tiger-inspired gel nails. This mani features a classic animal design with a little added glam. Yes, that’s right, bring out your inner diva with this sparkly, fierce tiger print. And as always, don’t forget the heart.
39. Dark Waves Gel Nail Design
For those of you who like to think outside the box, opting for a manicure with an abstract nail design is a great fit. Although fundamentally it appears to be rather simplistic, the unique shape makes it interesting. We also love that the artist chose black to reinforce the unconventional theme even further.
40. Summer Glam Gel Nails
Sparkly pink french tips, red hearts and golden gems- what more could you want? This summer is going to be all about bright and vibrant hues and this manicure is right on point.
41. Shatter Glass Gel Nail Technique
Okay, these nails are seriously cool. The technique used is called the “shatter glass” effect which gives it its unique mirror-like finish. The silver sparkles and blue hues compliment each other perfectly and contribute to the impression of looking out the window on an icy winter’s day.
RELATED: 46 Fun Floral Nail Designs
42. Daisy Blue Gel Nail Design
With spring here and summer just around the corner, flowers are starting to pop up all over in various shapes, colors and sizes. One of this season’s most iconic florals in the fashion world is daisies. Daisies have increased in popularity as of late because of their retro aesthetic: daisies were an it print during the ‘70s. So of course we couldn’t pass up the chance to show the vintage trend as a gel mani. The blue polish provides the perfect backdrop for the floral illustrations while the glossy finish gives it a refreshing summery glow.
43. Rose Gel Nails
Daisies may have been the flower of choice in the ‘70s but roses have always been a timeless and classic choice. This gel nail look starts with a white base that provides a soft and delicate foundation for the manicure. Then, for a romantic element, a red rose is added to each nail. Wisps of red can also be found on two of the nails- almost as if the roses are being gently carried away by the wind.
44. Fairytale Forest-Inspired Gel Manicure
When you think of a fairytale forest what comes to mind? For us, it’s this manicure. Subtle blue french tips frame a picturesque nail filled with elements of sparkle and magic. Pink roses and blue butterflies act as the focal point in this nail look while the delicate touches of shimmer and sparkle complete the scene beautifully. If a trip to Disneyland is in the near future and the princess section is what you’re all about then these nails are exactly what you need.
45. Punk Princess Gel Nails
In contrast to the previous look, this manicure is a little less ethereal and a lot more punk princess. Hot pink and black make an amazing color combo and are the perfect addition to your cute-edgy aesthetic. If that’s not enough, these french tips are the perfect choice as they allow the bold hues to pop without going too over the top. If you’re familiar with Avril Lavigne then you’ll know what we mean when we say this is exactly her vibe.
46. A Cherry On Top Please
There’s a reason the saying is, “pretty please with a cherry on top”. Whether it’s ice cream or a gel mani, cherries will always make things a little better. Or should we say, sweeter? This cherry-inspired manicure is giving us just that and more with its cute nail art and complimentary french tip design. We definitely know what we’ll be asking for at the nail salon this summer.
47. Rainbow Matte Gel Manicure
Just when you thought gel nails couldn’t get any better we pull out the matte rainbow manicure. Matte nails are a great alternative to the glossy finish and will give any manicure a subtle yet unique appearance. In addition, they are soft and trendy and complement any color palette. These rainbow nails are particularly bright and fun and will be sure to bring a little color to your day.
48. The Frog Prince Gel Nails
We’ve seen blue and purple french tips. We’ve seen sparkly ones and ones bedazzled in rhinestones. But a french mani you likely weren’t expecting is one shaped like a frog. It’s different, quirky and fun and we are here for it. The sage green and daisies compliment the pond theme perfectly and who knows, if you kiss the frog maybe it will turn into a prince?
49. Lemonade Nails
A fresh glass of lemonade anyone? Or would you prefer a lemon painted right on your nails? We’ll take one of both, please. This gel nail is everything we could want and more for the upcoming warmer months. The pale, pastel yellow and the lemon nail art is fun, refreshing and a great addition to any summer picnic.
50. Ombré Gel Nail Design
Ombré is another great technique to take your gel nails to the next level. If you’re not familiar with this design, it is essentially a method of applying nail polish where one shade blends into another. This manicure utilizes three colors to achieve this technique: white, light pink and dark pink. The slow degradation of the hues creates a beautiful seamless effect mirroring that of a pink sunset on a summer’s evening.
51. Don’t Worry, Be Happy Gel Nails
When in doubt, add a smiley to your nails. In a fast-paced, technological world, people often forget about the simple pleasures in life. A smile, for instance, can completely change someone’s day. That’s why we are loving this manicure (other than the fact that it’s soo cute)- no matter what kind of day you’re having you can simply look at your nails and good vibes will come your way.
What Are Gel Nails?
Gel nails are very similar to your classic polish, however, instead of painting your nails and waiting for them to dry, with the gel technique you can continue with your day straight away.
How is this possible, you may ask. Essentially, the efficiency loans itself to the method used to dry the lacquer. Applying gel nails requires the use of a UV or LED light following the application of the polish in order to secure it on the nails. It seems complex, but this process only takes about 30-60 seconds to complete. Once this is done, your nails will be fully dry and ready for any undertaking.
Why Get Gel Nails?
Aside from the advantages associated with the quick drying-process, gel nails are primarily beneficial due to how long they last. If maintained well, a gel manicure can hold up to four weeks. That’s a month! If you’re tired of chipping your regular mani 3 days into having it then we would definitely consider a gel lacquer.
In terms of cost, a gel nail is a little pricier than a classic manicure. But if you think of the added benefits, it’s totally worth it. They endure significantly longer than a regular polish but aren’t as permanent as acrylic nails.
What’s The Difference Between Gel & Acrylic Nails?
Gel and acrylic nails often get confused because they both provide a durable and long-lasting manicure. They are, however, completely different. Acrylic nails use a powder formula to actually elongate the nails while gel resembles that of regular polish. In addition, acrylic nails create a neutral base for the lacquer to be applied afterward while gel nails come in various colors. If you’re having trouble visualizing acrylic nails think “Khloe Kardashian”.
Acrylic nails are great if you want super long nails that will hold an extensive period of time but if you prefer a shorter and more refined nail then gel is definitely the way to go.
Can Gel Harm Your Nails?
Many people hold concerns in regard to the safety of gel polish and whether or not it can be harmful to their nails. This is fully reliant on the way in which the lacquer is removed. If done correctly, no damage has to occur.
Gel Nail Tips & Tricks
Whether you’re getting your nails done at a salon or are DIY-ing it, there are some important things to keep in mind during the gel nail process:
- If applying the gel polish yourself, check that the nail beds are dry to ensure the lacquer adheres well.
- NEVER pick the gel off yourself! This could damage your nails.
- For safe removal use a cotton ball and acetone.
- If your nails do chip, simply file the nail to the desired shape.
- Don’t forget to take pics because the insta fam is going to be obsessed.
As we’ve seen, gel nails are a great alternative to the regular manicure for anyone wanting their nails to be a little more permanent. Whether you decide to do it yourself or go to a salon make sure to keep in mind the tips and tricks mentioned at the beginning. And even more importantly, choose a nail that best speaks to who you are. Nails are a beautiful means of self-expression and regardless of what you choose- a sparkly french tip, florals, black diamonds or even, the frog- you’ll know that within it, holds a piece of you.