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!
Reindeer legging nail art
Here is a busy design which is just way too much fun to pass up! If you’re looking for a creative design for winter which will get a ton of attention, this would be a great one to try! It was inspired by a pair of reindeer leggings. It also looks to me like those sweaters which are so popular in states like Colorado. You’d definitely need fine control while painting those little designs. I wouldn’t be able to do it!
… And I was intimidated by the leggings-inspired nails above? Now I’m really intimidated. This octopus is so skillfully rendered that it is practically lifelike. The details on the tentacles, the shading on the body, the amazing little eye, I can’t get over it!
Bold use of contrast
These nails are spectacular, and make wonderful use of contrast. That deep violet color is stunning, and I like the fact that she did most of her nails in just that one solid color. That really brings a gorgeous contrast to the two nails she did with the pretty swirl patterns. Lovely work!
Pastel nails with black tips
Really, did I mention I am in love with contrast? Okay, by now you probably can see my taste pretty clearly. Anyway, this design is another winner. The pastel colors would actually be lovely on their own, but the black stripes on the tips really make the design! I like the cool pastel colors too; I’m not sure if it’s just the lighting, but they almost seem to me like they have an iridescent shine. I don’t think they do, and that probably wasn’t the intention, but that’s the illusion I see.
Grey and taupe metallic paisley patterning
This subtle design would probably be workplace-friendly. From a distance, you would hardly notice the intricate paisley designs in taupe metallic polish on top of the gray base color. Up close though, they are quite something! The use of the similar colors and the metallic sheen actually to me creates another optical illusion here. It almost looks like there is a 3D effect going on, like metallic ornamentation.
Do you usually have your nose in a book? These nails are a wonderful tribute to the joy of reading! Bookshelves full of multi-hued volumes are faithfully rendered, along with scripted words. This design is saved from being too busy by the fact that muted colors were used for the book spines. These colors don’t clash, and they aren’t so bold that they distract you. A really creative and lovely design—but one which I would definitely be intimidated to try!
Turtle shell nails
The last two nail designs I shared were from an awesome blog called Copycat Claws. I can’t resist sharing at least one more. These designs based on a turtle shell are awesome! The gold works beautifully with the sparkling olive green, and the patterns have a delightful geometric flair with that hint of the organic that I enjoy so much.
Incredible steampunk nails of wonder
These elaborate nails have beautiful 3D detailing and are designed in brassy hues for a steampunk style. They would be outstanding to wear to fairs, concerts, and other events where you want to deck yourself out in full costume. You can be sure that nails like these would be the envy of all who meet you!
Starry Night TARDIS nails
These expressionist nails are a highly specific tribute. If you happen to be a Doctor Who fan, you doubtless remember the amazing episode in Series 5 when Amy and the Doctor met Vincent Van Gogh. These Doctor Who-themed nails feature Starry Night designs based on Van Gogh’s work, and of course a flying TARDIS. Way to go geeking out! I love it! Of course, it’s still my favorite episode, so I’m biased.
I’m surprised I don’t see the marbled look more often. It’s pretty, it’s a simple idea, and you can always refresh the look just by doing it over in different colors. No matter what colors you choose, it pretty much always is going to look awesome.
Cool blue chevrons
There are so many chevron nail designs that I could probably populate this whole list with nothing else if I wanted to! I love the chevron nails, but I’m trying to restrain myself. I had to post these ones, though! The cool blue tones rock, and it’s really awesome the way there is a gradient from light on the bottom through gradually darker shades of blue to the tips. This is an outstanding design for winter.
Posh, high-class nails
Here are some amazingly embellished nails with very cool 3D elements. The flowers, the bows, the little jewels, they are so pretty! This nail artist did an astonishingly good job coordinating the colors. The pale green bows are a faultless match for the pale green polish. The polka dots nicely accent the look and immediately shout, “high class!” You can see here too that these nails have already started to grow out a bit, but the cuticle beds don’t look bad at all. These nails are a work of fine art.
Embellished metallic nails
Sadly I cannot seem to track down where these originally were posted, but they have made their rounds on Tumblr and Pinterest. These are some of the most incredible nail designs I have ever seen. It’s incredible how each nail is unique, yet the same design elements are repeated from nail to nail, so the finished look seems totally unified. The black and gold offset each other beautifully, and the metallic embellishments are just beautiful. These colors also are a nice complement to the skin tone of the model. Very glamorous!
Stunning opal nail tutorial
Remember earlier when I showcased some nails that looked like opals? Here is a tutorial that will teach you step-by-step how to do it yourself! Amazingly enough, the tutorial actually makes this look a lot easier than I would have suspected. Much of it is done through simple sponging, and you just need to add on some foil and flakes. You topcoat everything, and you end up with this stunning sparkly effect with layers of depth. Thanks to Glitter Fingersss for posting such a wonderful tutorial.
I can’t help but post another tutorial by Glitter Fingersss! These nails are just awesome, featuring gentle waves in different shades of blue with just a hint of sparkle. There is a video you can watch to see how she did it. I think this would be the perfect look for summer when you’re headed to the beach. Of course, it’d also be a great reminder of warmer days during the wintertime!
Gold and silver chevron nail tutorial
First things first. This is a fabulous design. It’s a simple chevron with just three stripes. You get the natural nail color going through the middle, and then the gold sparkles and the silver metallic shine to offset it. It’s a clean, streamlined look which emphasizes the shape of your nails in a really flattering way. The metallic shades keep things neutral too, so these nails would look great with whatever you are wearing. Ready to learn how to do it? There is a step-by-step tutorial!
Fabulous geometric nail design
Purple is one of my favorite colors, so of course I fell head-over-heels for this acrylic nail design! Each nail features three different shades of purple accented by black in a really cool geometric design. The designs are all roughly the same, but not 100% identical, which works really well. This design stands out, but not in a “loud” way. There is a visual tutorial, although honestly I find it pretty intimidating. She doesn’t appear to be covering each layer with anything to help her make those amazingly neat straight lines, which makes me wonder if she’s doing it by eye. If so, I am even more blown away.
Splatter nail design tutorial
The splatter patterns on these nails are very pretty! The colors contrast nicely with each other, and the metallic polish really completes the look. If you’ve ever wondered how you can do this splatter look yourself at home, there is a handy tutorial you can follow.
Easy cross-hatch pattern tutorial
Ever wonder how people get that cool cross-hatch design on their nails? It’s actually really easy! You just need some netting, say from one of those exfoliating sponges you can use in the bath. As this tutorial will teach you, you just hold the netting steadily over your finger and then apply the next layer.
Minimalist with sparse embellishments
What grabs the eye about this acrylic nail art is its utter simplicity. Most of the nails are incredibly minimalist; they have a natural color with simple white tips. But a couple of the nails are ornately embellished for 3D glam. Because the other nails are so totally simple, your eye goes straight to the embellished nails. The effect is a stunning contrast between simplicity and complexity.
Boldly patterned “POW!” nails
If you love really bright, bold, flashy nails that instantly grab attention, you will love this nail design! The base color is a fluorescent pink that just seems to glow. The patterns and colors really jump out at you, emphasized of course by the humorous “POW” written on one of the nails. This is a bold look for those who aren’t afraid to stand out from the crowd.
Beautifully blended red and black nails
There was supposed to be a tutorial available for this design, but unfortunately it seems to have gone missing. Anyway, this is a variation on your basic ombre nail design, but with a little something extra. There is a subtle flair to the design from the way the colors are blended. Instead of simply fading evenly from one shade to the next, there is a subtle cloudy swirl in the transition. You can only see it looking closely.
It is a beautiful look and would be great in many different colors. I would stick with two or three shades to preserve the simplicity of the look and its bold impact. This would be a great look for work since the blending is low key.
Neon disco glam
These nails were done for a 1980s themed party, but to me they shout 70s. They are very cool in any case. The black base makes an awesome contrast with the bright, vivid colors, and the geometric designs stand out amazingly well. Be sure to check out the source link for some other rad ideas.
Neon nail splatter
The great thing about doing splatter art on your nails is that you don’t need to be precise. You get a really amazing design without worrying about straight lines and corners! Here is one particularly eye-catching nail splatter design. The bright neon colors are fun and quirky and remind me of elementary school art class.