Warm weather inevitably begs for pastel nails as we swap our moody winter manicures for something altogether lighter and fresher. Watercolour nails, which have racked up more than 16 million views on TikTok, answer that siren call for seasonal inspiration. But they also steer your manicure away from pastel predictability.
So what are watercolour nails? The trend is exactly as it sounds. Instead of traditional blocks of baby pink, lemon, lilac and sky blue, watercolour nails rely on soft washes of all these shades blurred together on the nail bed.
The aesthetic is rooted in the world of fine art; in particular it borrows from the Impressionist paintings of Claude Monet. Watercolour nails also make a nod to tie-dye, which is having a moment thanks to Daisy Jones & The Six and the current ’70s redux.
How can you create watercolour nails?
There are several ways to create watercolour nails and none of them require a second set of hands or a salon visit.
Melanie Graves, who posts under the Instagram handle @overflowedit, is a big fan of the trend and serves up several iterations on her feed from candy hued watercolour nails to more deep and dusty shades.
In a video, she reveals her DIY hack for creating watercolour nails, a technique that involves painting the nail white before adding pastel coloured nail polish to the flat side of a sponge in loose, wavy designs.
Melanie then presses the sponge onto her nail, rocking it backwards and forwards, before using the skinny end to perfect the look with some additional lilac swirls. She then removes any polish that has bled onto the skin surrounding the nail.
Nail artist Betina Goldstein, who counts Lily James, Margot Robbie and Zoe Kravitz as clients, prefers a more free-style approach. In an Instagram video she can be seen laying down blobs of lilac, orange and green on to a nude nail tip and then mixing them with a fine brush so that the different shades run into each other – just as you would do with real watercolours.