Nail Designs : [TOP 10] Easy & Pretty Designs For Short and Long Nails

acrylic nail designsNail designs, if good, add flair and sophistication to your looks. Are you that kind of lady who is looking to add flair and sophistication to your looks with good nail designs? Do you want to follow a safe, yet simple step by step process to gorgeous and beautiful nails? Whether you prefer short or long nails, I implore you to read this guide. If you are only interested in the top 10 nail art design ideas, you can use the table of contents below to go directly to what you prefer.

1.0: Introduction

Did you know that hands and the nails on them are one of the first things we notice when we meet someone? Since ancient times, long and well-groomed nails signified status. Today, a good manicure is an indication that you take pride in your appearance. If you are even reading these introductory words, I can already assume that you know the importance of beautiful nail designs. But to reinforce your belief, let’s say that a good nail art can add a beautiful and gorgeous feminine flair to your looks, thus adding a unique touch to your personality.

I have seen many male friends confide in me that having a beautiful design on your nails adds flair and sophistication to a woman. In today’s information age, where by nail design ideas are freely available, coupled with the efficient distribution channels such as ones provided by amazon, nail art is becoming increasingly fun and accessible to everyone. In addition, there is now a variety of artificial nails (stiletto nails, Acrylic nails, gel nails, shellac nails, solar nails etc.) and tools you can use for easy nail designs to create an attractive effect without having to go to a nail technician or a salon – (See section 4.2 below).

[symple_box color=”gray” fade_in=”false” float=”center” text_align=”left” width=””]


1.0: Introduction
2.0: How to do good nail art/ 17 cool tools you will need for good art
3.0: Top 10 Step By Step Easy design Ideas (For beginners and advanced)
3.1: Top 10 Owesome, Cool,simple and Easy Nail Art Ideas That You Can Easily Do.
Idea 1: Flower designs
2: Just paint The Tips of your nails a different color
3: Random lines

4: Polka Dot Designs
5: How about a glitter effect?
6: Adorable Hearts on the nails
7: Striped nail art design
Idea 8: Blended Color designs e.g. gradient (Ombre) nails
3.2: Eight More recommended Pretty Designs with tutorials.
4.0: Types of nail extensions/ artificial nails/false nails
4.1: NAIL extension and Nail Overlays, what is the difference?
4.2: Acrylic Nails
4.2.1: Pros of acrylic designs
4.2.2: Cons of acrylic designs
4.3: Gel Nails
4.3.1: Gel Nails Vs Gel Nail Polish
4.3.2: Pros of Gel Nails
4.3.3: Cons of Gel Nails
4.4: How about shellac or solar nails
4.5: Nail wraps and press-ons
5.0 External Links


2.0: How To Do Good and Easy Nail Designs/ 17 Cool Tools You Will Need for Good Nail Art.

Though were are not talking professional here, pretty nail designs can add flair to your looks. Anyway I think I have other emphasized the flair bit. The point is that while very detailed nail art is best left to professionals, there are a number of killer nail designs you can create yourself at home and give that gorgeous impression that they were done by a professional. However, to achieve that, you need some tools and here are 27 cool tools you will need to keep your nails looking proper. Of course you will not need all of them, though having them will not hurt.

  1. The basic items: These are: (i) Base/top coat, (ii) cuticle pusher (iii) electric nail file (iv)polish remover.
  2. Matte Topcoat. This will give you nails a non-glossy mod finish that make them pretty cool. You can get the matte topcoat online or other stores.
  3. Loose Glitter: You can get this from any craft store. Evenly sprinkle the a little loose glitter to your base color while it is still wet, and see how it takes any Mani to the next level.
  4. Glitter nail polish remover pads

    -This is a textured pad that can help wipe off any finely milled or grittier glitter in a flash.

  5. Nail repair formula: Your nails get dry or brittle with costly application of false nails or gel polish. Hence they need to be restored back and conditioned to a healthy and strong state. This is done by giving your nails a break for a week and then applying a nail repair formula that achieves the above function.
  6. Transfer Foils: These help to create a cool design that give a cool finish to your nails. The nails painted with a desired base color, then a clear glue is applied over top, and then press and pull the tape away quickly. This leaves behind imperfect traces of foil on your nails.
  7. Polish erasing pen/ polish corrector pen– This is a good addition to your manicure kit. With this, you can clean up around the nails bed.
  8. Dotter Tools. This creates perfect tiny or larger dots onto your nails. You can also use it to create a series of circles. The body shop nail pen is a good example of a dotter tool.
  9. Studs: You can also pick these from your local crafts store. They can be metallic, colored crystal domes and they help to create 3-d embellishments on your nails.
  10. Stripper brush:

    Use this to create thin lines and intricate details on your nails. You can get a stripper brush from any beauty supply store.

  11. Striping tape: A thin metallic tape which is applied and kept on your nail to enhance its art. Some strips are just pressed onto the nails to create super straight lines and then lifted away.
  12. LED or UV nail lamp:If you are to go for gel nails, you will definitely need to cure (harden) the gel for a long lasting effect. most gels will need to be cured under UV light or LED lamp. Click Here to see the best 5 nail Lamps for led or UV
  13. Staple shades of good quality: Think of classic red, opaque white and black, sheer pink polishes. These are classics and are often used in creating nail art designs.
  14. Domed pearls: These can be found in the Ciatè Caviar Mother of Pearl Manicure Kit. They will help to doll up your nails.
  15. Nude polish: Have you ever wanted to wear a shade but not want it to be noticeable? you can achieve this by using nude polishes. These create the illusion of longer fingers and are perfect for interviews.
  16. Metallic polishes, pastel polishes, glitter polish, Jewel tone polish: These can be worn with any outfit and are perfect for amping up any outfit.
  17. Vibrant hues: Vibrant shades like orange, hot pink, yellow, teal, fuchsia, etc., makes your nail art pop.
  18. Manicure Table: This is a workstation on which you can rest your arms as you pain your nails with your desired designs. A manicure table is not necessary if you are working from home, but having one can save you from back ache and other health related issues that may arise from working on surfaces that are not made for manicure. Besides, you end up with a good design if you work on a professional nail table

3.0: Step by Step Easy Nail Designs Ideas (For beginners and advanced)

With a little effort, you can save the money that you would have otherwise given to a professional nail technician to do a certain design on you. You can really do these designs on your own and here are some gorgeous and simple nail design ideas you can try even at home.

General Steps Involved in all of the 10 nail design ideas given below:
A. Prepare your finger nails:

for all the designs, you will need to first prepare your nails. This is done by following these steps:
1. remove any old nail polish that is still on your nails so that for these new design, you are starting on a clean slate.
2.Shape and neaten your nails by trimming and filing them. Make sure you leave more space to work with ( i.e. do not trim them short).
3.Apply base coat: Some nail paints and art material can damage your nails. So applying a base coat helps to protect your nails from the damage. Base coats are usually in clear or bluish color and available in all beauty stores. Apply the basecoat (one layer) and allow it to completely dry.

B. Do the nail art:

3.1: Top 10 Owesome, Cool,simple and Easy Nail Art Design Ideas That You Can Easily Do.

Idea 1: Flower designs:

Flowers are a popular nail art today and a good starting point for beginners. You can also achieve these designs using this nail stamping tutorial

flower nail designs

  1. Choose your colors, the base and the color of the flowers.
  2. Follow the general steps above.
  3. To make the flowers, make several dabs around the base color using the chosen color for the flowers. To create the center of the flower, you can also use a thin art brush or a dotter.
  4. When the flower designs have dried, apply clear topcoat to finish.

Idea 2: Just paint The Tip of your nails a different color:

nails art designs


  1. Chose two colors that complement each other – one for the base coat and one for the tip of the nail.
  2. Prepare your nails as in the general steps described in (A) above. When the base coat color dries, proceed as follows:
  3. Places circular stickers or French manicure stickers or any similarly-shaped sticker across your nail, leaving the tip bare (exposed).
  4. Paint the exposed tip with the previously chosen tip color.
  5. To avoid pulling of chips of paint with the sticker when you take it off, remove the sticker while the paint is still wet.
  6. Allow the design to dry completely.
  7. Apply clear top coat to finish off the design.

Idea 3: Random lines:

These are definitely the simplest of all designs. and if you are new to nail design, you should start from here. The basic tools will be required such as the nail art brushes, dotters, sponge, and nail polish.

random lines nail designs
Image source

  1. Chose two colors that complement each other ( base coat color and polish for the lines).
  2. Prepare your nails as in the general steps above.
  3. Apply the base coat polish and leave it to completely dry.
  4. Using a different color that math the base color, start applying simple lines over the base. Use only little polish and make sure that the lines are very thin. It is OK if you do not get this right your very first time, but with practice, you will become a professional in line designs.

Idea 4: Polka Dot Designs:

Here, you create simple dots called polka dots on top of the base coat color.

polka dots nail designs
Source: Noel Giger on Flickr

Idea 5: How about a glitter effect?

You can go for a glitter effect with your nail art and this is simple even for the absolute beginner.

glitter nail designs
Source: Wikipedia


For these nail designs, you will need some loose glitter, nail gel or clear polish and top coat.

  1. After you have prepped your nails, mix loose glitter with nail gel or clear polish.
  2. Apply the above mixture to your nails and leave it to dry.
  3. Add a top coat after the application is step 2 has finished drying.

Alternatively, you can cover the nails first with nail gel or polish alone and then dust the nails with glitter and leave them to dry before finishing off with a top coat.

Idea 6: Adorable Hearts on the nails.

Everyone loves hearts. Look fancy with these simple to do hearts nail art designs.
You do not need sophisticated tools to execute the perfect heart.

hearts nail designs

You will need:

[symple_bullets style=”blue”]

  • Handy toothpick
  • Chose two colors that complement each other (one for the base coat and the other the hearts).
  • Topcoat

heart naild designs procedure

  1. Prep your nails as described in general step above.
  2. Apply base coat color and wait for it to dry.
  3. Use the toothpick to make two equal-sized dots next to each other.
  4. Drag each of dots down at a 45 degree angle to meet at the bottom so that they make a heart.
  5. When the hearts are dry, apply topcoat to finish.

Idea 7: Striped nail art design

Many people enjoy striped nails and I suggest that you too give it a try. It is easy to create without need for any fancy tools.
You will need nail art brush and different colors of nail polish: e.g. black, white, and blue.

Candy stripped nail art

Source: Pumpkincat210 on Flickr


  1. First do the usual nail preparations.
  2. Apply the basecoat color – Blue gives the best basecoat color for this design, especially if you are going to use the other colors (white and black for the stripes). Leave the basecoat to dry.
  3. Draw thick black and white stripes across the top of each of your nails, taking care not to get this colors (black and white) to mix. To do this, start with one color and draw the stripes and leave them to dry. Then draw stripes using the second color. For example, draw two white stripes on each nail. Let dry. Then go back and add your black stripes.
  4. After they have dried, then apply topcoat to finish.
  5. If you want to take this design to the next level, you can draw other designs on one or several nails. For example, you can draw a bow tie. It is easiest to draw the bow tie on both thumb nails.
  6. Draw your bow tie in white. Then go back and outline in black nail polish.

Idea 8: Blended Color nail designs e.g. gradient (Ombre) nails

For this, you will need a makeup sponge and three colors in the same family: a dark color, a medium color, and a light one. Also Click here to read our detailed tutorial on how to make ombre designs


  1. After preparing your nails, apply a coat of the darkest color to your nails. Leave it until it dries.
  2. Apply a dab (little) of polish by dipping the makeup sponge into a dark colored polish and apply the medium color to the tips of your nails, starting at the tip and moving down to create a fading effect.
  3. With a clean makeup sponge, dab the lightest color onto your nails in the same fashion, starting from the tip and fading downward toward the base of your nails. This should create a bright-tipped nails effect that fade downward toward the darkest base coat color.
  4. When you are satisfied with your nail art, then apply a clear top coat while the polishes are still wet to more completely smear the colors together. That it. Now go out and create adorable nail designs.

3.2: 8 More Recommended Pretty Nail Designs Tutorials

[symple_box color=”yellow” fade_in=”false” float=”center” text_align=”left” width=””]
Want more nail design tutorials? Check them out:

  1. How To Make News Paper Print Nail Art Designs Perfectly [9 Easy Steps Tutorial]
  2. StrawBerry Nail Art tutorial – How to make strawberry nail art
  3. Nail Stamping Tutorial – Create Amazing nail art with our famous 8 steps nail stamping tutorial
  4. Water Marble nail art tutorial – Most comprehensive tutorial on how to create water marble designs
  5. Sharpie nail art tutorial – How to do sharpie nails art at home.


4.0: Types of nail extensions / artificial nails / false nails

When you want to have your cool nail designs done, you have many options for nail treatments. some people opt for artificial nails instead of applying the design to their natural nails. So they use nail extensions or nail overlays. There are pros and cons of using artificial or what is typically called false nails. These depend on the type of nails you have chosen and as we have seen in the intro, we have a variety of these false nails onto which we can apply cool designs as discussed in the sections here.

In summary, the different types of artificial nails include Acrylic nails, gel nails, shellac nails, solar nails, wraps and press-on nails. That is not to mention the several other nails applications such as the “Diamond Dust nails” that some specialized salons have. But basically, artificial nails or false nail extensions can be achieved by applying specialized and FDA approved products on nails so as to build a nail enhancement. All the enhancements are based on ingredients from the acrylic family.

This nail enhancement can be either with a form (a plastic or paper support which is held under the edge of the nail to build out on) or with a tip, which is usually a plastic extension that is glued onto the natural nail. Regardless of what the nail technician may tell you, before you make your decision on why type of nails to wear, here is what you need to know:

4.1: NAIL extension and Nail Overlays, what is the difference?

With artificial nail treatments/nail designs, you have to know that you can take two routes – That is – You can have a nail extension done or a nail overlay. These are completely different and the technician should not deceive you.

Nail extension: Here the length of the natural nail is increased by gluing a lightweight piece of plastic plate that follows the shape of the nail or which is shaped otherwise, hence the word extension. Then onto this plate, Acrylic, fiberglass, gel or other mixture can be applied and then cured in order to secure the extension and add shine and strength to the nail.

Nail Overlays: Here, there is the no extension step for adding artificial length to the natural nail. Instead, the acrylic, gel or other strengthening mixture is added directly onto the bed of the natural nails. The major aim here is to add strength and durability to rather weak nails or to facilitate nail designs / nail art.

4.2: Acrylic nails:

These are the most popular of artificial nails extensions and you will see lots of acrylic designs. Their manicure technique involves building the nails with a powder and a liquid. The FDA approved chemical name for the acrylic used by salons is ETHYL Methacrylate. The powder and liquid are mixed together and polymerize as it dries, thereby forming a tough coating. Your natural nails are first roughened slightly, then the liquid is applied to the nail followed by the powder. Acrylic nail extensions will only become hard when exposed to air. The tough elongated nail extension formed can then be shaped into any style and desired length. So if you have short nails, acrylic nail designs may be a good option. Acrylic is also used for shaping stiletto nails

Pros of acrylic nail designs:

[symple_bullets style=”check”]

  • Acrylic nail designs are sturdy, thus long lasting and very robust
  • These designs are the most affordable and widely available.
  • They help to lengthen short nails.
  • If you break an acrylic nail, you can always fix it at your home.
  • They can be easily removed. You can see our pictures of adorable acrylic art here


Cons of acrylic nail designs:

[symple_bullets style=”red”]

  • If not applied properly, they can look less natural than gel nails.
  • May weaken or damage the skin or natural nail bed due to filing prior to application
  • Can lead to an infection (fungal yellowing) if nails are not properly maintained. (see section 2.5).
  • Some women cannot tolerate the intense drilling of the nails (Filing with the drill) prior to the application of the chemicals. Read this article on how to remove acrylic nails the perfect way and how to remove acrylic nails without use of acetone.


4.3 Gel Nails:

These are also nail enhancements done in place of natural nails. The gel manicure involves applying a gel substance on the nail. Now there are several gels, but not all gels are meant for building nails. The substance used for building nails is that thick, goofy GEL that comes in semi liquid, sticky GEL form in a small tub like container or a pot, but it is never mixed on the spot like acrylic. The gel polishes are similar to nail polish where by you have a base coat, polish color and then a top coat. In order to bond to the natural nails, the gel has to be cured. Most gels are cured under UV-light, Some gels however cure with a gel activator and do not require UV-light (no-light-gels). If UV-light is required, each coat is cured for two to three minutes.

The primary reason you may cho0se to do gel nail designs over acrylic nail designs is the appearance. Gel nails tend to have a more natural and glossy appearance as compared to acrylic. Gel nails provide the strength of acrylic nails with the appearance of natural nails. Like acrylic nails, gel nails can strengthen and lengthen short nails, making your fingers look longer, slender and with pretty nails. Plus, you can easily learn how to remove gel nails at home

Some crooked nail technician can confuse you that they are doing gel nails, yet what they are actually giving you are acrylic nails. what these techs do is build the nails with Acrylic (powder & liquid), file and then a coat of thin gel polish is brushed on like nail polish and is cured under a light. So don’t ever let a tech convince you that a liquid and a powder are gel because that is a lie. Read how to apply a gel nail manicure at home and how to remove gel nails

Gel nails Vs Gel nail polish

As mentioned above, do not confuse gel nails with a gel nail polish that comes in a nail polish bottle, this type of gel is not meant for building and is applied like nail polish and cured under a light. So with gel nails, you have to be extra careful and ASK. ASK many questions to get the right thing and if you feel the nail techs are not telling you the truth about the products they are using, you can walk away.

Pros of Gel nails:

[symple_bullets style=”check”]

  • Gel nails designs look more natural than other fake nails.
  • Curing time is less/faster than for acrylic nails.
  • In addition, gels are Eco-friendly and considered safer because the gel mixtures do not have the fumes associated with acrylic applications.
  • Some gels are soak-off and so they can be easily removed.


Cons of gel nails:

[symple_bullets style=”red”]

  • They are more costly compared to acrylic nails, yet they do not last as long and are less durable.
  • The requirement of UV-light for curing makes them a less likely option to do at home. However, if you have a UV or LED lamp, you will like the fact that it is easier to do your own nails at home because you use the product as is right from the bottle. No mixing is required. But you have to follow the manufacturer’s directions precisely. If you cannot, I suggest that you see a professional nail technician.
  • Broken gel nails are not easy to self-fix at home because it is less of a break than a shatter effect.


4.4: How about Shellac or solar nails?

I have put these together so that you can know that they are just a subcategory of either Gel or acrylic nails. The unifying factor being that they are made by a single company called Creative nail designs (CND).

A shellac manicure and gel manicure are the same thing. Gel nail is the generic term for all nails cured under UV-light or LED lamp, while shellac is a brand of gel nails by the company creative nail designs.

Solar nails on the other hand are a subcategory of acrylic nails, made by the same company, CND. The product is marketed as Radical solar nails. The acrylic used is a combination of white and pink, the reason why people refer to it as “pink and whites”. The acrylic is applied directly onto the natural nails to produce a look similar to a French manicure design. Due to the fact that they do not require the use of thick, bulky tips, solar nails look very natural, especially when compared to other extensions. They should however not be confused with acrylic nail extensions.

When in a salon for a solar nail treatment or nail design, you should be extra careful and ensure that you are actually getting the Radical solar nails. Many times, clients are told that they are getting Solar Nails using Radical solar nails, when in fact the product being applied to their nails is called METHYL METHACRYLATE (MMA). MMA is harsh and causes allergic reactions in some individuals and is banned by the FDA for use on nails. But because it is cheap and secretly distributed, some technicians use it on clients. So extra caution should be taken. Read how to paint your nails the right way.

4.5 Nail wraps and press-ons:

These are no longer popular but they are a good alternative especially for clients who are allergic to chemicals used in acrylic and gel nails.

Nail wraps are often used for repairing broken fingernails or fingertips as well as strengthening nail tips. Application involves cutting and shaping either a piece of silk, linen, tissue or fiberglass to fit the nail bed or tip. They are then sealed into position by using resin or nail glue.

Press-ons on the other hand are a quick-fix solution. They consist of an adhesive two sided tape that adheres to the both the false nail and the natural nail bed. Press on nails are found in any department or drug store in many colors, shapes and sizes.

Pros of wraps and press-ons:

[symple_bullets style=”check”]

  • Wraps and press-on are inexpensive
  • Secondly, they can be reasonably easy to apply. They are an excellent method of nail repair and quick solution where great nails are needed yet no time to go to the technician.
  • Require low maintenance.
  • Cause less damage to the natural nails.


Cons of wraps and press-ons:

[symple_bullets style=”red”]

  • Press-ons are very temporary while wraps may not be able to withstand too much wear and pressure.
  • Unlike the gel or acrylic, wraps and press on look obviously fake at closer inspection.
  • Wraps are not removed by chemical, thus the nails must grow out and re-applied.


5.0 External Links to nail designs:

1. Wikipedia

Leave a Comment