Spring’s Biggest Nail Trends Are Reviving Everything Retro

Prepare for magnetic manicures, ‘70s designs, and pastel tones.

spring nail trends
(Image credit: Hang Nguyen)

If going backstage during fashion month taught me anything, it was that spring nail trends would be anything but boring. I saw metallic silver press-ons at Bronx and Banco, pearlescent purples at Sandy Liang, and bow appliques at LoveShackFancy—to name a few. A few weeks have passed since these manicures made their way down the runway, and now, some of the best nail artists in the business are putting twists on these trends.

A few worth mentioning: Pastels are having a moment before brighter shades take over this summer. Nail art is getting a retro twist, with big flowers, 3D designs, and aura orbs popping up. Playing with texture continues to be popular; chrome finishes maintain their staying power, while magnetic cat-eye designs are joining the fold. As for shapes? You can’t go wrong, everything from stilettos to short and square are new classics.

To get a full breakdown of the biggest spring nail trends—and bookmark some inspo for your next appointment—read ahead.

Florals, For Spring

We say that flowers are in every year. “Groundbreaking, I know,” jokes celebrity nail artist Miss Pop, who was responsible for the ombre nails backstage at Retrofete and boasts a clientele that includes Regina King and MJ Rodriguez. “The florals we're seeing this spring, though, are big, brightly colored, 70s-style daisies.”

If you want a super simple design, but still want to celebrate the start of the season, nail artist Hang Nguyen, who runs the popular Instagram account @hangedit, suggests doing a daintier version with a toothpick or detail brush.

Magnetic Moments

spring nail trends

(Image credit: She's Polished)

I can’t scroll through Instagram without seeing at least 10 variations of this nail art. It looks hard to achieve, but it’s actually pretty simple: You just need cat-eye gel polish and a magnet. “First, you paint the nail with your desired cat-eye look. Before curing under an LED lamp, move the magnet around the nail to make the magnetic particles move around,” says editorial nail artist and founder of She’s Polished in Brooklyn, New York, Angie Aguirre.

You can move the magnet above a solid color to create a velvet-looking polish. Feel free to stop there, or add 3D designs to combine two trends in one.

Almond Shapes

nail trends

(Image credit: Glosslab/Instagram)

You do you, but generally speaking, super-long acrylics are taking a backseat in favor of shorter nail shapes. Even Kylie Jenner and Cardi B have retired their six-inch long sets. Almond shapes happen to be the most flattering on the finger, but stilettos and squares are also classics, says Aguirre.

Aura Nails

aura nials

(Image credit: ArtNailNYC/Instagram)

Different colors can help you channel a range of emotions. Red is romantic and powerful; pink is delicate and feminine; blue is soothing; green is grounding—so on and so forth. Fine-tune your aura by combining two to five shades on every finger. It’s a relatively simple process—just use a makeup sponge or airbrush, says Aguirre.

Negative Space

nail art

(Image credit: The Nail Diety/Instagram)

“We’re going to see a lot of minimal, negative space designs,” notes Nguyen. Nail art like this is pretty fluid—you don’t have to be a pro. Start with a clear coat over your natural nail or a pale pink base. Then pick a color of your choice to add simple lines, half moons, or delicate swirls. The only throughline to complete the trend? Your shape needs to connect from one edge of the nail to another.

Custom Layers

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You can never go wrong with classic shades like Ballet Slippers or Lincoln Park After Dark. But, this spring, attempt to concoct your own, custom shade by combining two to three different shades. It’ll add dimension and highlight your personal style. “Take the season’s classic pastels, or even a sheer nude, and add a coat of shimmer, sparkle, or pearl,” says Miss Pop. Her current obsession: OPI’s Glazed n’ Amused. “It takes any nail color and subtly makes it look sun-kissed—like you went to Aruba for spring break, but in a bottle.”

Pastel Tones

selena gomez nails

(Image credit: Tom Bachik/Instagram)

“The overall aesthetic for spring nails mainly involves pastel colors,” notes Nguyen. Peachy tones have been incredibly popular (it’s Pantone’s color of the year, after all), lilac is having a moment, and yellow is making strong headway.


nail art

(Image credit: Samantha Holender)

We reached peak bow a few months ago, but the coquette-ish trend is still going strong. “Adding a sweet little bow can make any mani feel like a little girlie gift,” says Miss Pop. You can attempt freehanding the design (she created the look below) or order tiny ribbon appliques. Secure them with a dot of eyelash glue, and you’ll be good to go.

Meet the Experts

best nail artist
Miss Pop

New York City-based Editorial Nail Artist

best nail artist
Hang Nguyen

Hang Nguyen is a celebrity nail artist who received her start painting nails in Los Angeles, on photoshoot sets and for celebrity clients. More recently, she partnered with ManiMe to create custom designs for stick-on nails. She currently lives in Harrogate, England, with her husband and three kids. She is represented by Nailing Hollywood.

best nail artist
Angie Aguirre

Anjaneth (Angie) Aguirre is a master nail technician, visionary and educator. Her talents boldly marry the world of creativity and technique through but not limited to nail art. Angie creator of the brand “Shespolished” is a nail art technician and Panamanian native. She grew up in and currently works out of the heart of Brooklyn, NY. With a dedication to perfecting her craft her canvas can be seen on magazines, social media, and many other creative outlets. Her expertise includes: Nail Art, Gel Nails, Gel Sculpted Nails, and Natural Nails.

Samantha Holender
Beauty Editor

Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and shares the breakdown on the latest and greatest trends in the beauty space. She's studied up on every ingredient you'll find on INCI list and is constantly in search of the world's glowiest makeup products. Prior to joining the team, she worked as Us Weekly’s Beauty and Style Editor, where she stayed on the pulse of pop culture and broke down celebrity beauty routines, hair transformations, and red carpet looks. Her words have also appeared on Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, Delish.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Samantha also serves as a board member for the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME). She first joined the organization in 2018, when she worked as an editorial intern at Food Network Magazine and Pioneer Woman Magazine. Samantha has a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. While at GWU, she was a founding member of the school’s HerCampus chapter and served as its President for four years. When she’s not deep in the beauty closet or swatching eyeshadows, you can find her obsessing over Real Housewives and all things Bravo. Keep up with her on Instagram @samholender.