Pearl nails aren't going anywhere for summer 2024—here are the looks I'm taking inspo from

Right this way for a subtle sheen

A tight crop of a woman wearing a double denim outfit, holding her hands (with pearlescent nails) over a yellow Chanel bag
(Image credit: Getty Images/Edward Berthelot / Contributor)

Nail trends come and go, and this year has seen it all, from Chantilly nails to stone nails and neutral 'boring manicure' options. And while chrome nails have taken a bit of a backseat after having a major moment last year, pearlescent nails aren't going anywhere for spring/summer 2024.

More and more pearl and opal-inspired manicures are popping up on social media, bridging the gap for those who want something sheenier than regular polish, but not quite as dazzling as the results of chrome powder. Here’s what you need to know about the look, including how to recreate it yourself at home. 

What are pearlescent nails? 

The clue is in the name here. “A pearlescent nail is precisely what you'd expect, that subtle sheen with a perfect pearl effect; that of opals and moonstones,” explains celebrity manicurist and Sally Hansen ambassador Michelle Class.

The secret to creating them is all in the polish used, as manicurist Alex Philamond explains: “Pearlescent looks are achieved using polish that has a cloudy shimmer to it, and they come in various tones and iridescences.”

How are pearlescent nails different to chrome?

Both manicures have a shiny element to them, so they are similar in that regard, but they differ in terms of the intensity and overall effect. "The sheens are achieved in different ways, resulting in totally different looks," Philamond explains. "Chrome nails require a technical application by burnishing chrome powder into the finished nail before applying top coat, resulting in a mirrored, shiny surface. Pearlescent nails are achieved much more simply, by painting your chosen pearl polish, which appears as a shimmer rather than a reflective shine." Both can be created in-salon, but pearlescent nails are that little bit easier to do yourself at home.

Pearlescent nails inspiration

Whether you opt for pearl, opal, or moonstone-inspired nails is totally up to you, but pearlescent finishes are available in both salon and regular polish. Block colour is the traditional option, but pearlescent polish can be used as a twist on the classic French manicure or as part of a nail art design. "Oyster and seashell nails are exquisite and perfect for a clean, casual look with an elevated twist," Philamond suggests. "The pearl polish is marbled with sheer pink to resemble the natural veining inside a seashell."

The epitome of pearl nails, this sheeny manicure on a classic round shape catches the light perfectly. 

A post shared by @essellenails

A photo posted by on

Pink and pearlescent go hand in hand, and we've seen few pearlescent manicures that are quite as glowy as this one. 

This is, without question, one of the chicest manicures we've ever seen.

An action shot of luxurious, ultra glowy pearly pink nails. Call us obsessed.

For a very understated pearly nail design, look to the lip oil nails trend for an ultra shiny sheeny finish. 

Combine a French manicure with a layer of pearlescent polish to elevate a classic look—a great idea for wedding nails

Recreate the look

To create a pearly manicure at home, either slowly build up layers of your pearlescent polish of choice, or apply a single coat over the top of a pink base for a subtler effect. Below are some of the best nail polish shades for the job, recommended by both us and our experts. 

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.