40 Best Simple Nail Designs

Our top favorite nail looks with minimal effort and maximum results. Let’s be real for a minute. Most of us can agree that going to the nail salon is an amazing experience: you sit, relax, get pampered and leave with a stunning, fresh manicure. But for most of us, this isn’t a sustainable option.

Maintaining your nails this way can get expensive fast. So although we love it, it’s more of a luxury. That’s why being able to do your nails from home is so important. Many elaborate nails can be tricky to DIY, but what if we told you that simple nails are not only classic, they’re also one of the hottest trends of the season?

Now that we’ve (hopefully) convinced you to try out the aesthetic, here are our top 40 simple nail designs of all time: 

1. Glamorous Gray Simple Nail Design

Credit: i_aika

Did you know, gray was one of last winter’s hottest shades? Gray monochromatic fits were especially popular and weren’t complete without the matching mani. This dark gray is simple and chic and would complement any OOTD (yes, gray can even look amazing with bright and bold colors such as pink and blue). Make sure to stick with a subtle nail shape such as this short, square frame. 

RELATED: 25 ENVY-WORTHY DARK GREEN NAIL DESIGN IDEAS TO TRY THIS SUMMER

2. Autumn Orange Simple Nail Design

Credit: child__saki

A simple, classic manicure can also look great in orange! This particular hue reminds us of autumn shades as it resembles colors of fall leaves and pumpkin pie. (Okay, now we’re getting hungry). The oval shape is also a great choice to complement the minimalist aesthetic.  

3. Pretty Nude Simple Nails

Credit: yukamu.o

Now it really doesn’t get more simple than this. Nude is the ultimate basic, neutral color. If you opt for a simple nail of this nature it will let the people around you know that when it comes to nails you don’t like to be too fussy but still like to appear groomed. A slightly longer shape also gives this manicure an added edge.

4. Black Swirls Simple Manicure 

Credit: dilinilakmaidb

This nail look is the epitome of refined elegance. It really doesn’t get more classic chic than subtle, black detailing over a nude polish and we are loving how the design looks over an almond-shaped nail. This manicure would be perfect for any elegant and sophisticated event.

5. Flower Power Simple Nail Design

Credit: beauty.by.brown 

For this one, we are calling all of our fellow nail-biters. Maintaining long nails is a task that requires great determination and willpower. If you’re not chewing them off yourself (gross, but it’s a reality), or they’re not breaking off, then your violin teacher is clipping them at the first sight of the tiniest bit of length (sorry, childhood flashback). Luckily, this minimalist manicure is perfect for anyone with a shorter shape. And how cute is that design? With green and white french tips, waves and daisies you’ll be on-trend all summer long.

RELATED: 31 BEST MATTE NAIL DESIGNS 

6. Shimmery Brown Simple Nails

Credit: nima__run

Any classic polish shade can be upgraded with a fun and sparkly finish. Having been one of the ‘70s it colors (and everyone being obsessed with all things retro), brown has become super trendy. It definitely looks great on its own, but if you want that pop of glam then you can never go wrong with a bit of glitter. 

7. Blacky Hearts Simple Manicure 

Credit: lindaslovelynails

If there’s one nail trend that we’ve seen go viral since the minimalist aesthetic has become popular it’s miniature hearts. Small, dainty hearts will make any manicure simply adorable. This black take on the trend is extra cool and we love how the artist has chosen a colorful, striped pattern to accent the design. This manicure is definitely more on the intricate side and would be better for those of us wanting a slightly more elaborate finish.

8. Dreamy Black And Gold Simple Nail Design

Credit: m_m57nail

Black and gold are truly a match made in heaven. They are the power duo in the elegant chic world and they will forever be a timeless nail choice. To achieve this simple manicure at home, sculpt your nails into an almond shape and then paint each one in a black polish. To get the french manicure look add gold sparkles to the tips of each nail. And don’t forget to add that top coat for a glossy finish!

9. Black Tips Simple Nail Design

Credit: retreat_nail_kaho

Pairing gold with black will give your manicure a glamorous touch but for the ultimate classic chic look there isn’t a better color combo than black and white. These nails feature the duo in a beautiful and seamless french tip. French tips are everything right now and will give you the picture-perfect minimalist mani.

10. Blush Pink Simple Nails

Credit: aa_sska

Do you guys remember the blush pink hype about five years ago? Blush pink was everywhere and nails were no exception. Although the trend has come and gone (as they always do) pink is a timeless nail shade and will therefore always be a classic choice. For a slightly elevated simple nail look add some chic nail art such as these pearls.

RELATED: 32 UNFORGETTABLY STYLISH BLUE OMBRE NAILS 

11. Black Heart Tip Simple Nail Design

Credit: ishita.nailart

When in doubt, opt for a simple nail design in black. Black will never let you down. It’s reliable, versatile and classic. It will stick by you through the good and bad times and will never betray you… (are we still talking about nails?). For a fun alternative to a basic black nail opt for a couple of french tips in this cool and unique heart shape. 

12. Olive Green Simple Manicure 

Credit: mizuki_ohira

Olive green is super underrated. When pondering what the reason might be for this, we agreed that the connection to the food could be the only plausible reason. Olives have developed a bad rep (they tend to be one of those foods on the same list as tomatoes and mushrooms). But if you think about it, martinis are the height of sophistication and what do they use as an embellishment? That’s right, olives. So if the color is good enough for martinis, it’s good enough for our nails too (we promise this isn’t just an excuse to have a drink).

13. Cow Print Simple Nail Design

Credit: hannahmissennails

If you love an animal print and were worried there wouldn’t be a simple nail design for you, don’t worry. This cow-inspired mani is too cute and reflects the minimalist aesthetic perfectly. Cow print has been super popular since last year and complements a fun and trendy look wonderfully. 

14. Tortoise Tips Simple Nails

Credit: m.a.na.mi

Or maybe you were looking for an animal print that is a little more understated? We can’t get enough of these tortoise french tips and how well the print complements the simplistic nail style. And the creme-colored base couldn’t be more perfect for this neutral palette. 

15. Simple Star Nail Design

Credit: niicetips

Sometimes adding a simple touch of nail art over a nude polish is all you need to make your minimalist nails shine. Stars are a great source of nail inspo because they’re fun and cute. Stars also traditionally represent a job well done and here at Looks Like Candy we believe that everyone, no matter who they are, deserves to be a star (thank you for coming to my TedTalk).

RELATED: 34 IRRESISTIBLE ROSE GOLD NAIL LOOKS

16. Power Of Simplicity Simple Nail Design

Credit: basexnails

When it comes to simple nails, using a bold color can make all of the difference. A classic black and white nail is timeless, but sometimes we just want a manicure that brings out our fun and creative side. This dark green is rich and bold and will give any OOTD a pop of color. For an ultra-trendy and retro look, pair the mani with a brown fit. Can someone say 70’s vintage?

17. Cute Red Heart Simple Nail Design

Credit: mariasilva______

We’ve seen multiple little hearts used as a nail design but one single heart on each nail is equally as effective. To achieve the simplistic style opt for a transparent gloss as the base. Then it’s time to have fun with the nail art. Dainty, small hearts are all over Pinterest at the moment and will give you that effortlessly cool “it girl” energy.

18. Marble Nuances Simple Nail Look

Credit: yayo__nail

Marble, although intricate in nature, can also appear simplistic if done correctly. The key to this is sticking to a subtle color palette such as this faded blue and white combination. The touch of shimmer is also a great addition and provides this already ethereal manicure with an angelic-like finish. 

19. Cherry Berry Simple Nail Design

Credit: m.a.na.mi

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, red is the go-to color for the ultimate classic manicure. This nail look uses a cherry red hue that would be perfect for the cooler seasons, especially around the holidays. For a luxurious feel make sure to add a clear, glossy top coat. 

20. Polka Dots Simple Nails

Credit: nailsandlashesbygbh

Now, this manicure is making all of our childhood dreams come true. There is just something so fun and youthful about colorful polka dots. I mean, there’s a reason party hats always sport the print. Polka dots on nails are equally as amazing and are a perfect choice if you want a simple nail look that will still make a statement. 

RELATED: 35 POLYGEL MANICURES: THE NEWEST NAIL HYPE 

21. Silver Lining Simple Nail Design

Credit: nailyjully

Another great technique to enhance your simple nail look is framing your nails in a contrasting color. This particular artist has chosen a clear polish to act as the backdrop for a silver frame. You know when you see a piece of art that is ultra simplistic and you conclude that its beauty derives from its abstract nature? This is the vibe we’re getting from this manicure. It’s simple, yet artistic.

22. Christmas Celebration Simple Nail Design

Credit: beauty.by.brown

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”- have truer words ever been spoken? There is something so wonderful and magical about the holiday season and for such a cheerful time it is vital that we have a nail look that matches the festivities. Christmas tends to be over the top and although we love a good red and green 3D art-inspired mani, opting for classic colors such as gold and white and choosing dainty nail art such as snowflakes and ribbons is also a great choice. This manicure is perfect for anyone who likes to keep it simple during the holidays but wants a touch of glamor.

23. Pink Festive Simple Manicure 

Credit: theenailbaee

One often doesn’t associate bright pink with simplicity but sometimes it’s the design that gives a nail look its minimalist appearance. Pink isn’t a traditional Christmas color but we don’t care because we are obsessed with this mani. If this holiday season doesn’t involve pink sparkles, miniature hearts and reindeer faces, we don’t want it. 

24. Blue Swirls Simple Nail Design

Credit: gelsbymay

Aside from hearts, the minimalist aesthetic has also attracted a lot of people toward the “swirl” or “wave” nail design. This is likely due to the retro feel that it gives off. “Groovy” swirls were everything during the hippie era of the ‘60s and ‘70s and can now be seen all over pop culture. Because of its subtle lines, waves make a great simplistic nail design. This manicure is vintage, simple and trendy.

25. Simple Plaid Nail Design

Credit: nailogylab

Another way in which you can get the minimalist aesthetic is by adding a simplistic design on one or two of the nails. This will bring a balance to the overall appearance of the manicure while adding an artistic flair. We are loving the use of plaid print in shades of blue and white in this nail look and think it would be the perfect addition to any preppy fit. 

RELATED: 4 SIMPLE WAYS TO REMOVE STICKY RESIDUE FROM GEL NAILS

26. Pink And Red Swirls Simple Manicure 

Credit: bethxnails

Traditionally, red and pink were off-limits in the fashion and beauty industries and we honestly can’t figure out why. In our opinion, this color duo is a match made in heaven. For a simple nail look using the power couple, opt for a swirl in each color on each of the nails. Basic but super cute.

27. White Snow Simple Nail Design

Credit: momosnailartistry

Like an all-white outfit, you can never go wrong with an all-white manicure. If you’ve been on social media lately you’ll likely have noticed all of the monochromatic looks. Monochrome indicates a style using only one color and is a great way to appear put together with minimal effort. Next time you opt for an all-white look get the simple white manicure to go with it. 

28. Classy Black Simple Nail Design

Credit: mai_qlicca

And of course, we couldn’t leave out the contrasting all-black manicure. Like white, black is a classic and timeless shade that will make any outfit chic (or edgy depending on your aesthetic). If you find yourself frequently reaching for black pieces, then considering a monochromatic black mani isn’t a bad idea. 

29. Brown Modern Ombré Simple Nails

Credit: nailogylab

Anyone who thinks brown is boring needs to take a look at this manicure. Adding a fun design isn’t the only technique to elevate your simple nail look. Playing with different colors and hues can be equally as effective. This manicure utilizes different shades of brown to create a modern take on the ombré design. This look is chic, sophisticated and with the matte finish, just the right amount of understated.

30. Simple Summer Blue Nails 

Credit: thedollhouse.beautyroom

If this doesn’t give you all of the cheerful summer dopamine feels we don’t know what will. Bright blue is the ultimate summer shade as it reminds us of blue skies and sunny days spent by the pool. Not to mention beach vacays and colorful cocktails. For a simple nail look with a fiery edge opt for a longer, square shape. 

RELATED: 44 BEST BLACK & WHITE NAIL DESIGNS OF ALL TIME

31. Simple Fun Nail Art Design

Credit:nailtopia10

If you love a good nail-art-inspired look then you are going to be obsessed with this manicure. Nail art is a great way to achieve a simple nail design while showing a bit of your fun and quirky personality. This manicure features smileys, florals, hearts, dots and flames- a little something for everyone. 

32. Black Tip Simple Nail Design

Credit: nailsbyyliv

Do you struggle to do your nails or is painting your non-dominant hand your worst nightmare? Then we’ve got the perfect nail look for you. This manicure takes the minimalist aesthetic to a whole new level, with a thin, half tip as the only requirement. Get ready, because you’re about to hit this one out of the park. 

33. Flaming Simple Nail Design

Credit: nailedbymarty 

Bring out your wild side with this flame-inspired manicure. Nothing gives your look a fiery edge quite like a flame print and this manicure is serving just that. Opt for a bright blue hue to give the simple nail look a pop of color. 

34. Fabulous Fairy Manicure

Credit: nailsbycarlinsimone_

When you think of fairies the color that always seems to come to mind is periwinkle purple. Fairies have received a lot of attention as of late as a result of the rise in popularity of the “fairycore” aesthetic. To get the look, go for a simple purple nail polish with a dreamy, glittery finish. It wouldn’t be a fairy-inspired look without the fairy dust after all.

35. Pastel Flower Simple Nail Design

Credit: nailsbynicola_

Pastel shades are the perfect addition to any spring/summer look and will give your minimalist manicure some color without being overly saturated. Cartoon daisy prints will also provide your mani with all of the fun, floral vintage vibes you could ever want for the upcoming warmer months. Simple and cute.

RELATED: 44 MESMERIZING MARBLE NAIL DESIGNS

36. Lemon Simple Manicure

Credit: thenailbosstx

Speaking of summer, lemons are also an iconic part of the warmer season. Lemons are bright, cheerful and refreshing- everything you need to have a fun and relaxing summer holiday. Whether you’re sipping on lemonade or a limoncello, having a matching mani will only make the experience that much better.

37. Good Vibes Nail Art

Credit: @mintynyc 

There’s nothing like a smiley-inspired nail look to put you in a good mood. This manicure features bright blue french tips and smiley nail art to give this simple nail design good vibes for days. If you’ve been feeling a little down then you definitely need a little smiley nail inspo in your life. 

38. Artistic Simplistic Nails

Credit: @mintyNYC

One of the results of the minimalist movement in home décor is line art. Line art is the epitome of chic simplicity and also makes the perfect addition to your minimalist nail design. Pair the look with a bright color such as this orange for a fun, artistic feel. 

39. Minimalist Blue Dot Nail Design

Credit: beautybyetty

Just when you thought a nail look couldn’t get any more simple this manicure comes along and takes first prize (it might actually surpass the black half tip nail design). With a white backdrop and a subtle blue dot at the base of each nail, this manicure couldn’t be more understated. But remember, sometimes less is more. 

40. French Beauties Simple Nail Design

Credit: nailartistrybysugarcoat

To conclude, we had to incorporate the classic French manicure. Although bright and elaborate french tips are currently trending, a basic French nail is always a timeless choice. A French manicure is the most ideal simple nail design due to its soft and “clean” finish. It’s chic and elegant and the perfect addition to a diverse range of events such as weddings and formals.

RELATED: 47 OVAL NAIL DESIGNS TO TRY NOW

FAQs

What Are Simple Nails?

First things first, what do simple nails actually entail? A simple manicure is one that requires little effort and produces an end result that is minimalist in nature. It adheres to the “basic is better” philosophy and is super easy to DIY. If you’re unsure what we’re talking about think solid colors, short oval or square shapes and dainty nail art. To provide a little more clarity let’s discuss a few examples. And what better to start off with than the OG nail design.

Classic Nails

As the title implies, classic nails are timeless. They are generally basic in appearance and are beneficial due to their versatility. You’ve likely seen the classic nail many times in your life. It’s the manicure you’ve seen on your mother and grandmother for decades. It’s the nail look that they show at the drugstore in front of the polishes. Heck, it was probably the very first manicure you ever got. At its roots, classic nails consist of this: one solid color painted on the entirety of each nail. 

Cleopatra was one of the first known people to use this technique. It is said that she actually used henna to dye her nails a blood red. Interestingly, red has persisted over time as one of the most popular colors of choice (next to pink) and has even developed a reputation as the most classic shade of polish. 

So basically the moral of the story is: if the Ancient Egyptian queen Cleopatra approves it, it’s definitely legit (except for the death by snake venom- we wouldn’t recommend that). 

Minimalist Nails 

Now, luckily for us, simple nails are not only classic, they’re also seriously having a moment right now in the beauty industry. Minimalism as a trending aesthetic has been increasing in popularity for a couple of years. It is not only trendy in the nail world, it is also being seen more and more often in the home décor and fashion industries. Minimalism reflects a style that is clean, simple and clutter-free. In terms of a home, this would entail white walls and minimal furniture. When we’re talking about fashion this would consist of basics such as blue jeans and black and white tees. In the nail world, this reflects an aesthetic with a simple design. 

Why Choose Simple Nails?

If it’s not already obvious, opting for a simple nail is a great choice because of its many benefits:

  • Versatile 
  • Can complement any OOTD
  • It looks “clean”
  • Adaptable (looks good in any color)
  • Easy to do at home 
  • Minimalism is super trendy! (It-girl energy)

It’s safe to say that “simple” definitely doesn’t translate to “basic” (in the Urban Dictionary sense of the word). With an array of designs and colors, the minimalist aesthetic is fun, diverse and trendy. Looking to get that retro vibe? Opt for a vintage print such as waves or daisies. Wanting a touch of refined elegance? Try a black and gold-inspired french tip. Remember, darker hues don’t necessarily indicate “busy”. In fact, a classic manicure in a dark, rich shade can be the perfect addition to a fall or winter look. 

What is most important to remember is that the final impression will rely on the way in which you style the nail. Nail art and vibrant shades may seem eccentric, but if you balance them out with subtle backdrops and neutral tones you’ll still be able to maintain that simplistic aesthetic. 

Miranda Cole
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