Rainbow nails are super trendy right now, and the aesthetic isn’t going away anytime soon. Here’s some inspiring examples of rainbow nail art that you can DIY or ask for at your next nail appointment.
If you’re painting rainbow nails at home, you’ll need to grab nail polish in all the colors: red, orange, yellow green, blue, indigo, and violet. The trick to making so many colors work together is by making sure all your nail polish colors are the same tone!
Design Ideas for Rainbow Nails (With Pictures)
Pastel Rainbow Nails
Pastel colors work well with rainbow nails, especially if you want the look but don’t want it to be quite so bold. If you need to tone it down even more, start with a soft base coat, like pink. Then use a nail art pen to create thin rainbow lines on half the nail, leaving the rest solid.
Popular Rainbow Nails
One of the most popular ways to do rainbow nails is to just paint a different color on each finger. It’s simple, but might be a bit underwhelming if you want unique nails.
An easy idea to dress up this nail art is to create a two toned look. First apply a clear or nude base coat. Then, about a third of the way up the nail, add a thin strip in a light shade of the color. Finally, paint the rest of the nail a darker shade of the same hue.
You can do this on an angle for a cool effect that’s super easy to DIY!
Clear Rainbow Nails
Clear rainbow nails work really well with acrylics, but you can also create the look with just nail polish too. You’ll need a clear base coat (I like to use one that’s a bit sparkly) and then you can add the rainbow design on top with a nail pen.
Rainbow Swirl Nails
Swirl nails are easy to turn into a rainbow design by painting two to four colors together in each swirl. Get creative by varying the width of the swirl across the nail and the blending of your color combinations!
Rainbow Different Color Nails
Another rainbow idea is to paint each of your nails a different color. This technique is great for beginners who aren’t comfortable with nail art but want to do something bold. It also works great on natural and short nails too!
The biggest tip here is that the colors must be in the same family. If you pick out polishes from your collection that are different tones the nails won’t look coordinated and it can ruin the look.
Summer Rainbow Nails
Summer is the perfect time to experiment with rainbow colors on your nails. Choose bright shades to go with the season!
Rainbow Smiley Faces
Smiley faces are cute on their own, but even more fun if you give them a rainbow pattern. If you’re new to nail art this might be a fun DIY idea since they’re pretty easy to draw.
Another option is to use smiley face nail stickers and apply them to rainbow painted nails or in a rainbow pattern.
A gradient can be used to create rainbows across your hands, rather than on each nail.
As you paint, continue the last color you used onto the next nail to get the gradient look. You can also add art or stickers on top when you’re done!
Colorful Ombre Nails
A lot of ombre designs are just two or three colors, but why not use every color of the rainbow instead? Start with red and then blend your rainbow colors all the way through to violet at the tip.
This works better on longer nails since there’s so many colors.
Rainbow Neon Nails
Neon works amazing with rainbow nails! If the colors are too bright, try starting with a nude base coat and then painting just the tips in either solid or two-toned neon colors.
Bright Rainbow Nails
Multi-colored bright nails look so cool in a rainbow pattern. With the 80s and 90s bold colors coming back into fashion now’s a great time to try out this look. This even works for short nails too!
Fun and Cute Rainbow Nails
You’ve seen a lot of rainbow painted nails, but what about fun and cute rainbows? Start with a clear or nude base coat and then use your nail pen to draw little rainbow designs.
You can also doodle clouds and suns on your nails too. Adorable!
French Tip Manicure Rainbows
If rainbow tips on a French manicure are a faux pas then it’s time to break the rule! Swap the traditional white for bright rainbow colors. Be sure to use a different color on each nail for the rainbow look.
Acrylic Rainbow Nails
Instead of just doing a regular rainbow design, take advantage of your acrylic nails by adding rainbows to the tips and leaving the rest of the nail glossy and nude.
This style is adorable and great for beginners who are just getting started using a nail pen.
Beginning at the nail fold, carefully arch your first color. Then add 2-3 additional stripes in contrasting colors to create a subtle rainbow design.
Rainbow Short Nails
Short nails can be tricky to add a rainbow pattern to, especially if you want all the colors in there. A unique way to do this is by focusing the rainbow at the base of the nail in a U shape for a rainbow cuff. Once you add your rainbow colors in thin stripes, paint the rest of the nail a light violet or light pink.
Rainbow swirls are another easy nail painting technique. To create the rainbow effect, start with a red and orange swirl on the first nail. Then use orange and yellow on the next one, repeating this pattern until you hit blue.
Pride Rainbow Nails
What better excuse to paint rainbows on your nails than for Pride? The trick to making them look great is to match the bright colors found in the Pride rainbow flag. Try painting each color in thin lines vertically on every finger.
Rainbow Butterfly Nails
If you’re looking for a colorful butterfly design, painting a different color butterfly on each nail is the perfect idea. Add in details with a black art gel outline and you can also add splatter polish and white tips to the design.
Another easy beginner nail painting idea: rainbow dots! All you need to do is paint a neutral base coat, then use your nail pen to add colorful circles all over the nail.
Rainbow Coffin Nails
Coffin nails are stunning, especially when you pair them with something unexpected like a colorful design. Think outside the box and take advantage of the unique shape of coffin nail tips by focusing your designs toward the tip of the nail.
Rainbow Glitter Nails
Glitter and rainbows work well together if you’re looking for fun nail designs. Instead of doing glitter on top, try doing a sparkly base coat then adding a rainbow design
Be sure to space out the rainbow stripes so the glitter comes through in between.
Rainbow Stiletto Nails
I love the trend of using classic nail shapes and adding modern techniques and rainbow stiletto nails are no exception
Almost any painting technique will work on your stiletto nails, but if you’re new to bright colors, consider a more subtle design that leaves some of the nail nude.
Black and Rainbow Nails
There’s a few ways you can create black and rainbow nails. First (and easiest) is to use a black base coat and add a thin rainbow on top in a swirl.
Another idea (that might be better for your esthetician) is to swap the black base with a checkerboard design.
Flames on nails? Cool. Rainbow flame nails? Even cooler! Start with a bright color at the tip then work your flame design down the nail, shifting to other colors as you go.
Rainbow Cow Print Nails
Create a cow print on the nails with a white base coat and rainbow spots, or add stripes of cow print and rainbow to your nail side by side.
Glitter Rainbow Neon Nails
Glitter makes neon even brighter, especially when you add it to your rainbow designs. Start with a bright glitter base coat (like gold or silver) then add neon rainbow stripes on top once it dries.
Pastel Rainbow Tips
Adding rainbow tips in pastel tones can give you the rainbow look without it being too bright. You’ll need a soft base coat (like pink). Then create a rainbow in pastel tones at the tip of the nail. If you want a bigger rainbow, swoop the design down to your cuticle on one side of each nail.
Rainbow Cloud Nails
Cloud nails are such a fun idea for anyone who wants cute nails, especially kids. Apply a neutral base coat, then paint on a colorful rainbow that starts from the top of the nail bed and ends behind a happy cloud.
Marble Rainbow Nails
To get a marble effect on your nails, roughly paint two or more colors in a squiggly pattern. Blend and overlap the colors in some areas, and keep them separate in others. Make sure to use a variety of color combinations to make it a rainbow!
Rainbow Outline Nails
Less is more when you create a rainbow outline on your nails. Bright or neon colors look good, especially on acrylics.
White and Rainbow Nails
White is a great contrasting color to use as a base for rainbow nails; especially if your design is made up of bold hues. Instead of painting the rainbow on just the tips of each nail, add variation by painting the base (near the cuticle) of a few.
More Nail Art Ideas
Looking for more nail art inspiration. Check out some of these other inspiring nail art posts.