I’ve always been into nail trends, but my nail art obsession really took hold during the pandemic. In need of something to take my mind off the impending doom and with the added advantage of hours (and hours, and hours…) of spare time, I invested in a UV lamp and a copious amount of gel polish, chrome and nail stickers. Post-pandemic, my love for manicures only grew, and I found nail artists who could create some of the coolest looks I’d been saving up on social media.
Each of my resulting looks has been shared to Instagram, and friends have started to know me as the one who will always have a fresh design, whatever type of manicure I've opted for. In fact, if they ever caught me sans-polish, I could only imagine the look on their faces.
Instagram is such a great place for nail inspo, and I love feeling as though I am in some way contributing to that. I’ve really noticed my nail snaps racking up the most ‘saves’ of all my posts, which I hope means mani fans are taking my pics to their own nail artists to recreate something similar. But which designs are my most saved? The GOAT personal nail art looks?
I’ve ranked some of my followers’ favourite designs over the past several years (based on ‘save’ numbers), from 12 down to the number one spot, along with details of what you need to ask for to get the look yourself. You’re welcome.
12. Taylor Swift ‘Reputation’ nails
Why I think the design was saved: My most recent nail design was inspired by feeling like I’m in my Swiftie ‘Reputation’ era. This forest green with a metallic glaze is easy to achieve and would look super sleek on any nail length. It’s also a killer design for Christmas time.
What to ask for to recreate it: Any black gel polish with a green chrome powder on top.
11. Poolside glaze
Why I think the design was saved: As with many of my fave nail designs, this one was inspired by Hailey Bieber. The original glaze stan, Bieber’s look was created by her nail artist @nailsbyzola and it’s a gorgeous spin on the classic doughnut design—but for poolside jaunts. I love this on long nails so if you wear extensions, give it a go.
What to ask for to recreate it: OPI’s ‘I’m Yacht Leaving’ (or similar), with ‘Tin Man’ chrome powder on top.
10. Simple smileys
Why I think the design was saved: Combining cheeky smileys with delicate tips, this was always going to be a winner. I personally think this looks best on shorter, ‘squoval’ nails, meaning it’s one for everyone. If you want a touch of nail art but can only spend cash on one or two fingers (rather than a whole hand), this is a super cute option.
What to ask for to recreate it: Clear nails with pastel tips (mint green also works beautifully), and smiley faces on the ring fingers.
9. Achey breaky baby
Why I think the design was saved: We see a chic heart design on our feeds at every scroll—but what about its darker, slightly more cynical broken-hearted cousin? For those moments of heartbreak or just to embrace the spooky months of October-December, this is the nail design to choose.
What to ask for to recreate it: Clear nails with black tips (and a layer of glitter if you so choose), with broken hearts on the ring fingers.
8. Pride hearts
Why I think the design was saved: Around June (Pride month), searches for Pride nails shoot up, and I’m glad people seemed to love this one as much as I did. Perhaps the reason it stood out from others is its intricacy; you’ll need to find a talented nail artist who can hand-draw these. I warn you though, this is a bit of a lengthy process!
What to ask for to recreate it: Hand-drawn hearts with Pride flag colours on a clear background.
7. Skittles nails
Why I think the design was saved: The era of ‘Promising Young Woman’ was upon us, and I realised even the most badass of women can rock a soft, pastel multi-coloured design. Enter: Skittles nails—perfect for spring but hell, break the rules and wear them year-round. The added benefit of these is having a mani with a twist, but with no extra spend on any specific nail art.
What to ask for to recreate it: A multi-coloured design, using pastel hues of your choosing.
6. Coloured tips
Why I think the design was saved: A play on the classic French mani, this bright look was my go-to for festival season. Tips honestly look cool on any nail length or shape, making them a versatile choice with so many colour options. This look even drew attention away from my dodgy fake tan hands…
What to ask for to recreate it: A French mani with coloured tips instead of the classic white.
5. Glass-like & sheer
Why I think the design was saved: Milky nails have been having a moment, and a sheer, ultra-glossy polish looks good on everyone. A favourite for weddings or big events where your outfit should be the real showstopper, you just can’t beat it for a touch of understated cool.
What to ask for to recreate it: One thick or two fine layers of OPI ‘Bubble Bath’ (or similar). Ask for a soft coffin-square shape if you especially like these.
4. Wild waves
Why I think the design was saved: This is probably the most impressive set of nail art I’ve ever had. It’s just so detailed and intricate, and got me so many IRL comments, as well as saves on Insta. If you love the sea or are off on holiday, ask for this.
What to ask for to recreate it: You’ll need to find a talented nail artist who can hand draw and ideally has done waves before.
3. Classic doughnut glaze
Why I think the design was saved: This one really speaks for itself; I certainly wasn’t the first to copy Hailey Bieber’s beloved design, and I won’t be the last! Long live the doughnut glaze.
What to ask for to recreate it: OPI ‘Funny Bunny’ (sheered out by mixing with clear), followed by ‘Tin Man Can’ chrome.
2. Heart tips
Why I think the design was saved: I always said this was the design for anybody (like myself) who hated Valentine’s Day, but loved Valentine’s Day nails. It’s incredibly stylish and chic, without being too obvious.
What to ask for to recreate it: A fine layer of OPI ‘Bubble Bath’ (or similar), with hand-drawn heart tips in pinks, reds and white.
Why I think the design was saved: The year was 2023, and the season was summer: the rest was history #barbiecoreseason.
What to ask for to recreate it: A pale pink nail with a hot-pink tip. (Thicker, rather than dainty, looks best!)
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Rebecca is a freelance beauty journalist and contributor to Marie Claire. She has written for titles including Refinery29, The Independent, Grazia, Coveteur, Dazed, Stylist, and Glamour. She is also a brand consultant and has worked with the likes of The Inkey List on campaign messaging and branded copy. She’s obsessed with skincare, nail art and fragrance, and outside of beauty, Rebecca likes to travel, watch true crime docs, pet sausage dogs and drink coffee. Rebecca is also passionate about American politics and mental health awareness.