There's only one colourful nail trend I'm actually buying into this summer—and it's this simple design

Nail inspo boards at the ready

Colourful French manicure
(Image credit: Getty Images)

I can’t express how much I love having my nails done. A fresh manicure, especially one that involves a bit of nail art, genuinely lifts my spirits. To that end, I’ll probably be getting a colourful French mani at some point this summer. 

My love for fresh nails aside, as a beauty journalist it’s also my job to try services like the Ukrainian manicure and keep up with current nail trends. That’s why the classic colourful French mani is on my radar right now—and why I spoke to two leading nail experts to get their tips on trending colour combos and DIY tips. Here’s everything you need to know about making this timeless nail design work.

How does the colourful French mani work?

For the avoidance of doubt, a colourful French manicure involves the same neutral pink base as a regular French but switches out the usual white tips for a different colour (or colours). “I love colourful French manicures, especially in the summer,” says award-winning nail technician Metta Francis, AKA Nails by Mets. "The more colourful, the better, so it's only natural that I love multicoloured tips—where there's a different solid colour on each tip or, for something more fun, an ombré coloured tip. I love anything neon, but my favourites are a lemon-lime or classic sunrise combo,” she says.

Nail artist and OPI global ambassador Iram Shelton also loves a colourful French mani, particularly in summer. "I love mixing and matching, so I love a different colour for each nail or even a gradient effect, where you start with a darker shade of your chosen colour and then get lighter as you work your way through the nails," says Iram.

As for which colours and combinations will be on trend this summer? “Aperol orange and sicilian lemonade shades, colourful metallic and glazed looks—from peach glaze to turquoise chrome and pastel jelly tips,” says Metta.

Blue has also been tipped (sorry) as a key trending nail colour for this year, so that naturally extends to colourful French manicures that incorporate these shades. “I am loving blue at the moment,” says Iram. “I definitely think it’s a colour that can look good on everyone and it just reminds me of summer!”

Iram adds that 3D French tips are also proving very popular this year: “They can be super simple or a little more intricate. I really love the wavy effect you can add with 3D gel over the French tip. It looks cool and is definitely a talking point.

“I also love the reverse French mixed in with some nails that alternate,” she continues. “A little mix and match is definitely what we’ll be seeing in summer. I think the 90s and 00s are influencing our fashion and beauty choices and the more maximal designs are coming back in full force.”

How to do a colourful French mani: Pro tips

  • Prep is key: “Always ensure you have perfected your nail prep,” says Iram. “Tidy the cuticles, shape and trim the nails, then always start with a base coat—regardless of whether you’re applying gel or lacquer.” 
  • Invest in a fine line brush: “I always like to paint my French tip on with a fine liner or detailed brush,” says Iram. “Long strokes are better than short ones as it allows for more precision.”
  • Apply white polish to the tips first: As Metta explains, this will “make your colours pop, unless you are using jelly nail polish for a sheer look.”
  • Don’t forget top coat: This is an absolute must if you want to make a DIY manicure last. “Remember to cap your free edge,” says Iram, a term that means brushing clear polish horizontally along the tip of the nail to "seal" it. “You don’t want to chip a good mani!” 
  • Tidy things up if necessary: “Use an angled nail art brush dipped in nail polish remover to tidy up any excess nail polish on the skin,” Metta recommends.
  • Finish with skincare: Don't forget your best hand cream. "I always like ending my mani with skincare—scrubs, serums and oil are a must for exfoliating and rehydrating the skin,” Iram says. 

Colourful French mani inspiration

The best products for a colourful French mani

Lucy Abbersteen
Beauty Contributor

Lucy is a freelance beauty editor and contributor at Marie Claire, and has written for titles including Glamour, Refinery29, Popsugar, woman&home and more. She was previously Marie Claire’s junior beauty editor. During her career, she’s covered everything from backstage beauty at fashion week to interviews with famous faces like Drag Race royalty and Little Mix. As for her beauty ethos, she’s a big advocate for not having to spend a fortune on beauty products to get good results, and when she’s not got beauty on the brain you’ll find her reading or hanging out with dogs.