I remember when I was growing up that there wasn’t a whole lot that women did with their nails. Usually you just painted on some conservative shade of polish for a clean look, and that was it. Thankfully we are living in far more expressive times now, and nail art has become so much more than it ever was before! We’re seeing so many amazing colors and designs; it’s just an explosion of creativity!
I want to share 100 of the best acrylic nail designs with you, but first, I realize that some of you may not actually be all that familiar with acrylic nails. They’re one of the most popular nail treatments you can get, but if you’ve never tried them, you may not be familiar with the benefits.
First off, what are acrylic nails? Acrylic is a protective coating which is applied using a powder polymer and liquid monomer. As the coating is exposed to the air, it dries and hardens.
Here are the benefits:
- Acrylic is strong. The coating itself will stand the test of time, and will also protect your nails.
- Acrylic is less expensive than gel nails.
- While acrylic nails can be damaged, you can usually repair them yourself. If you want to get them removed, it is really easy.
- Best of all, acrylic makes the perfect surface to paint colors and designs on! Let your imagination go wild. You can get the technician to paint designs on your nails, or you can do it yourself.
If you’re looking for the ultimate acrylic nail design gallery, you’ve found it! Check out these stunning acrylic nail design images from around the web and get inspired!
Clear sculpted nail design
These nails have the natural color at the base, and transition into sparkly opalescent pastel blue at the tips. There are some beautiful understated flower designs around the transition point. The light blue complements the natural nail color really well. This is a soft, graceful look which would be nice for a wedding.
Pastel lace and flowers
Here is a delicate look from Cynful Nails which incorporates some 3D elements. Soft shades of pastel lavender and pink are topped with lace patterns, flowers, and bling. When 3D elements are encrusted on nails, they can sometimes look heavy and overwhelming, but these elements don’t take over the whole nail. The textures and colors are beautiful!
Cynful Nails has many lovely designs, and it would be remiss not to post at least one more. These nails feature a natural base color, and then transition into sparkles and sequins. This design would continue to look awesome as the nails grow out. It’s simple, but makes a beautiful statement.
Detailed landscape nail art
It is a real challenge to limit myself to sharing just a few nail art designs from PiggieLuv. I recommend you check out her entire gallery. These nails feature a stunningly rendered landscape with a mountain lake and clouds. The painting is quite realistic and detailed, even down to the trees on the slopes! This is incredibly impressive work, all done completely free-hand!
Epic Princess Story nails
Earlier I shared some acrylic nail art designs with you that contained images. These nails don’t just showcase images, they tell a story! It’s a rather amusing story too, if you follow through the panels. That prince sure chose the wrong princess to rescue! The fourth panel is my favorite in terms of design. It’s super cool these all glow in the dark too! These designs are also from PiggieLuv.
3D dinosaur excavation nails
Okay, one more from PiggieLuv! As you probably figured out earlier when I shared the Doctor Who nails, I am a total nerd, so I am in love with these dinosaur fossil nails in 3D. This is actually quite clever, since she can hold her nails together and show you a complete picture of the dinosaur fossil, but it doesn’t seem strange when her nails are held apart, because fossils are often found scattered. Once more her work features astounding detail and creativity.
Winter in Paris nails
I don’t think this was deliberately meant to be a winter design, but it certainly feels that way to me with the pastel colors and the silver sparkles and sequins. A lot of the elements I’ve shared in the other designs are brought together here, including the marbled look. On one nail the Eiffel Tower is rendered against a soft gradient. The finished look to me calls to mind pastel winter skies, gently falling snow, and all the delights of Paris.
Simple gradient with feathers
This design instantly grabs you because it features just several colors and some bold contrasts between them. The nails with the gradients include hand-painted feathers in the same hard black used for the other nails. The resulting design is just instantly cool.
Gemma Lambert designs some spectacular nails. These ones use bright neon colors: yellow, green, orange, and pink. You would think such bold colors would be busy to look at, but she manages to fade them so gracefully into the natural nail color that they just seem like they belong there. Her design features graceful lines and 3D blossoms.
I want to share one more design from Gemma Lambert. Whereas the previous design featured bright colorful flowers and designs, this one sticks to just two colors: black and white. The bold alternating stripes and the 3D flowers really stand out. This design is incredibly artistic and cool, and since the colors are neutral, it would look great no matter what you’re wearing.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier nail art
So I am back to geeking out! These Captain America-themed nails are incredible! The design for the index, middle and ring fingers is derived from Captain America’s uniform. The pinky design hearkens to the Black Widow, and the thumb design comes from the Winter Soldier. This nail design was a stroke of genius; the bold insignias work perfectly on nails and make a statement with some serious impact.
Vines and owls
Here is a cute, simple, very artistic design for nails. What I love about this design is the high contrast. The black stands out beautifully against the mint green, and the choice of white as the background for one nail instead of the mint green immediately draws the eye to the cute little owl. These designs are quite elegant; they do not overwhelm the eye with complexity, but they still give you a picture to look at.
Simple sparkly nails
This is another simple design by the same acrylic nail artist. These nails sparkle beautifully. You can make a design like this simply by layering some colorful flakes over top of a black base. You get an effect which is eye-catching without looking busy. Sometimes these abstract ideas are the best ones.
This is just such a cute and clever idea that I can’t get over it! Each nail is painted to look like a Crayola crayon, with a gradient of colors running from warm to cool (red, yellow, green, and blue in order). There is a nice shine to these nails, and the bold, primary colors really stand out. This was a smart idea for nails both because of its simplicity and its sense of humor. A bold, fun design!
Sea-themed green and purple nails
Stephanie Loesch is something of a web legend when it comes to crafting beautiful acrylic nail art. Her designs are very popular and well-known, so I am going to share a few of them with you in this list. Here is the first one. These sea-themed nails are done in various shades of green and purple. Green and purple always make a wonderful contrast with one another, but also complement each other. Both shades here are on the warmer end of the spectrum.
You can see how she did the tulle trick that I linked to earlier to get the “mermaid tail” look on one nail. One thing that is cool about these nails is how each of them is different from the rest, but they all share that same common color scheme and theme. This keeps the look unified and saves it from seeming random. Beautiful work, Stephanie!
Rose-gold and green glitter
Here is another of Stephanie’s lovely designs. These nails include light green and nude colors along with rose-gold sparkles and bling. Once again, we have nails where each individual design is unique, but they all work together because she has done so well keeping the colors and ideas unified. The nails don’t come across as at all busy or chaotic, even though every nail is different.
Simple nails with sparkles
Here is another set of nails which stick with a simple nude color scheme. This look is accented with sparkles in the same color and just a little bit of embellishment. The overall result is an elegant design for acrylic nails which would work great with anything you wanted to wear. These nails might even be acceptable in the workplace (though probably worn a bit shorter).
Simple ombre pastel nails
This design by the same artist features a really simple look which still immediately calls for attention. The nails are done in an ombre gradient. Pastel pink morphs subtly into pale blue at the tips. The pastel pink should itself blend in pretty well with the natural color of the nails when they start growing out, so this look will maintain itself pretty well over time. Once again we have a look which is subtle enough you could probably get away with it at your day job.
Pink & Polished has a number of beautiful acrylic nail art designs. Kristine was looking for some unique ideas for fall, and thought of creating this sophisticated look in gold. While these nails may not immediately shout “fall,” they do fit beautifully with a fall theme. They have those same warm colors, and if you have autumn in mind while looking at them, it really works. A lot of season-themed nails tend to look a bit gaudy, but these ones are the furthest thing from it. They look really chic and refined. A great choice if you want something for autumn which is going to really give you some glam, but which won’t seem kitschy or loud.
Ombre heart nails
Usually when you see an ombre look where one color fades into another, you are looking at just one solid hue running into the next. This is an ombre nail design featuring an actual pattern fading into another color. Instead of just sparkly black fading into sparkly pink, you have sparkly black hearts fading into sparkly pink. Kristine has outdone herself yet again with another vibrant and beautiful acrylic nail design!
Have I mentioned I can’t get enough of Kristine’s nail designs? Here is yet another that I really love! Unlike the gold harvest spike design featured earlier, this one does immediately and unambiguously announce that fall is upon us. The nails feature black leaves on orange and red, and orange and red leaves on black on alternate nails. All are done in sparkly polish. I’ve seen attempts at making looks like this from other designers, but they usually are really loud and garish. Like all of Kristine’s designs, this one is just subdued enough not to seem gaudy. Another sophisticated look for autumn!
Okay, just one more from Kristine. I could not resist these squiggly patterned nails! Silver and pink squiggles on a black sparkly background make an awesome abstract statement. Amazingly enough, even though all the lines are squiggly and random, nothing seems chaotic about these nails. They kind of remind me of computer cables, in an absolutely cool, cyperpunk sort of way.
Mara Hoffman dress-inspired nails
This may officially be one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Dorra over at Didoline’s Nails & CO was checking out the fashion designs of Mara Hoffman on Pinterest and realized that the bold geometric pattern on this dress would also work perfectly on nails. Using the same colors and the same basic design from the center of the dress, she recreated the look perfectly! I am blown away by how closely she managed to match the colors. And she was right—the design lends itself perfectly to nails. How cool would it be to wear this dress and these acrylic nails at the same time? You’d get so many amazing compliments! What a cool idea that would be for attending a party in style!
French Connection dress-inspired nails
Dorra did it again—she turned another dress pattern into an amazing design for acrylic nails! I am totally in awe of this woman’s incredible skills! She again managed to pick colors which appear to match almost exactly, and she recreated the design faithfully. She again chose a bold geometric design with high contrast glamour. It looks awesome!