Top 10 Creative Ways to Rock Rainbow Nails

rainbow nails

The rainbow seems to be a universal symbol for cheer. If you want to spread a little cheer and look fashionable and fun at the same time, then consider rainbow nails the next time you get a manicure. If you are more of a do-it-yourself kind of person, doing your own rainbow nails can be a fun little creative endeavor. Read on to learn about fun rainbow nail trends.

What Are Rainbow Nails?

Rainbow nails are pretty much what they sound like: nails that have a combination of colors that give off a rainbow appearance. While the rainbow technically comprises the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, when we’re talking nail polish, there is some wiggle room. If you have a giant nail polish collection, by all means, fit as many colors in there as you can, but for those of you who have more of a basic collection, you can stick to a simpler scheme of colors. 

One conundrum when talking about rainbow nails is that technically pink isn’t one of the main colors of the rainbow; however, it is one of the most common nail polish colors! So if you’d like to stick pink somewhere in the mix, by all means, go for it!  

Who Are Rainbow Nails For?

colorful nails

Rainbow nails are for EVERYONE. You read that correctly, anyone can rock a set of rainbow nails. You may think babies are an exception, but you’d be wrong! There are several brands of non-toxic nail polishes, and while young children may put their hands in their mouths, they still have 10 tiny toes just waiting to be painted into a rainbow–if you can get them to sit still. They even make pet-safe nail polish!

Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends–the list goes on! Rainbow nails are for absolutely anyone who wants them. Here we will look at a variety of rainbow nail styles. There are some that are fairly easy while others are more complicated and take time and/or practice.

Rainbow Nail Designs

rainbow color nails

1. Rainbow Tips

This is a design similar to French tips, where you have a strip of white across the tip of the nail. The difference here is you paint super thin lines in the colors of the rainbow on the tips of each one of your nails. You can start with red and go to purple, or vice versa. The longer your nails are, the easier it will be to accomplish that genuine rainbow look.

Tip: You can find nail polishes with especially thin brushes to help create nice thin lines.

2. Rainbow Glitters

Chunky glitter pieces can be arranged and stuck down onto each nail in a pattern to represent a rainbow. You can accomplish this look by using a clear nail polish in small sections at a time. Then, using a tool like tweezers, pick up the chunky glitter pieces and set them down on the nail. Smooth them over using the same tweezers. Fill up each and every nail using a rainbow sequence. After a lot of patience, you’ll get an incredible look that is bound to get you complimented.

3. Happy Clouds

While some may find clouds drab or gray, the ones usually associated with rainbows are white, puffy and happy. You can do this nail design by painting a sky blue background on three of your nails; the thumb, pointer finger, and pinkie.

Then paint big fluffy white clouds over some sky blue in random shapes sizes and spots. At this point you will have two leftover nails; the middle and ring fingers. Make a rainbow with thin lines using the sky blue nail polish for the parts that aren’t covered by the rainbow. Wherever your rainbow ends is where you can paint your biggest, happiest looking cloud by adding a little smiley face right over the top.

4. Dripping Rainbow Nails

With this design, gravity is your friend! Gather all the colors of nail polish needed to create your rainbow nails. Start with a glob of red at the base of the nail in one corner and then point your finger down toward the ground, letting the polish flow down naturally. If it’s not dripping down, you haven’t used enough nail polish.

Repeat this process continuing across the nail bed using the rest of the colors. You can do all the colors of the rainbow on each individual nail, or you can paint an extra large glob over the entire base of the nail following the same process, changing up colors as you change fingers. Either way, you will get a unique and fun effect.

5. Rainbow Dots

This is one of the simpler designs. Using a base coat of white, paint rainbow dots all over. It’s as simple as that! One version is to paint all different colored dots over all of your nails at random. Another way is to use one color paint per nail. For example, you could do all red dots on your thumbs, all orange dots on your pointer fingers, all yellow dots on your middle fingers, all green dots on your ring fingers, and all blue dots on your pinkies. While we’re missing out on the purple, you will still get your point across loud and clear. You can substitute purple for another color.

Tip: You can find special tools in an array of sizes especially for making dots on the nails. Some people take a cheaper route and make their own dotting tools by using the rubbery ends of bobby pins.

6. One Color per Nail

This is another simple design where you fully paint each nail a different color of the rainbow for a quick and easy rainbow nail design.

7. Water Marbling

This is one of the toughest designs and may require a lot of practice, but it is definitely worth it once you get the hang of it. For these rainbow nails, you’ll need:

  • A shallow dish you can dispose of or stain
  • Rainbow nail polish colors
  • Toothpick
  • Paper towels

The first thing to do is fill your dish with room temperature water. The next part must be done quickly for success. Take the color you want to start with and drop a big glob right into the water. If it hits the water and spreads you have succeeded but if it sinks to the bottom, you will need to try again. Once you get your first color to sit on the water you quickly need to drop a glob of the next color and so on until you’ve got all your colors sitting on the water. You then quickly grab your toothpick and gently drag the colors around to create a swirling effect.

When it looks good, get one finger, or more if you have space, and reach into your bowl, underneath your design and pull straight up, giving you a giant mess! However, once you clean your fingers, you will have an incredible, one-of-kind, swirled design.

Tip: Some nail polish brands work better than others for water marbling. Find which kinds work best for you.

8. Black Base with Neon Dots

If you like using rainbow colors, but you want a more subtle version of rainbow nails, this one is a good choice for you. This style begins with a black base coat. Once that dries, make dots of different rainbow colors down the middle. You can choose any size and make as many dots as you’d like. You might also do the dots down the left or right of each nail for a similar yet slightly different appearance.

9. Ombre Rainbow Nails

This style will require one surprising supply; a sponge. To create cool ombre rainbow nails, you must first paint the colors of the rainbow right onto the sponge, moving quickly so the nail polish doesn’t dry on there. Gently roll the sponge onto the nail so it covers all nail space. Gently wiggle and dab until you can see the fading from your first color to your last. You can do this using regular rainbow colors, but pastel and glitter rainbow colors create a nice ombre look, too.

10. Stained Glass Nails

Stained glass is beautiful to look at and a version of it can be recreated on your nails. First, you need tape cut into very thin strips. Place these all over your nails at random angles, leaving several chunks of nail exposed on each finger with the goal of making all nails look as different as possible. The more nail surface you have to work with, the easier this style will be.

Once you’ve got all your tape down, carefully fill spots of the exposed nail using all different colored nail polish. Once you are certain your nails are entirely dry, slowly pull the tape off and, as long as your nails weren’t still wet, you should see a beautiful pattern resembling rainbow stained glass.

Tip: You can find a very thin tape, especially good for doing this nail design, or you can use scotch tape and scissors.


rainbow nails design

Some of these designs can be done fairly quickly, while others take time, practice and patience. Most people seem to always be on the run these days, but if you find yourself stuck in the house on a rainy day with not much else to do, challenge yourself and see if you can pull off one of the more extravagant rainbow nail designs from our list. Enjoy and happy painting!

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