What Is the 'Clean Girl Nails' Trend—and How to Get the Look

Rock the aesthetic from fingers to toes.

For the chronically online (guilty), the ‘clean girl’ aesthetic is nothing new. The minimalist, squeaky clean look has garnered billions of views on TikTok. At its core, the aesthetic is meant to look effortless and understated, while maintaining an undeniable expensive-looking allure.

You’ve heard of clean girl makeup—that effortless, natural look using minimal skin coverage, a dewy base, a healthy smattering of cream blush, and feathered brows—but you might not be as familiar with the clean girl manicure. But in true TikTok aesthetic fashion, it’s bringing that same highly groomed yet barely there ethos we know and love.

What Are Clean Girl Nails?

Think your nails but better. The trend calls for a neutral color—and usually just a sheer wash at that—on short, rounded nails with neatly groomed cuticles and a high-gloss finish. With milky whites, baby pinks, light browns, and sheer apricot hues, it’s a direct departure from the over-the-top colors and nail art we’ve seen trending over the last few years. And to be fair, you can totally add some nail art to your clean girl nails, but keeping things subtle is key—pair tonal colors together and stay simple design-wise.

The best part of the trend? Clean girl nails, also known as ‘supermodel’ nails, are fairly easy to achieve from home. After all, immaculate nail care is at the core of the trend; we’re talking everything from hand exfoliation to a heaping dose of cuticle oil, all of which can be easily done from the comfort of home.

How to Get Clean Girl Nails

  1. Exfoliate: If you’re looking to really invest in your clean girl nail routine, the Sidia Hand Exfoliant ($42) is a divine gritty gel-scrub that lasts forever. But you don’t technically need a dedicated hand exfoliator; instead, simply use a bit of your go-to body scrub to slough off any dead skin and debris.

  2. Remove Cuticles: Do not, we repeat do not, attempt to cut, clip, or pull out your cuticles—trust us, you’ll do more harm than good. Instead, opt for a cuticle-softening liquid like the Olive & June Cuticle Remover ($10). Apply a small amount following the shape of each cuticle, rub in, and let sit for at least five minutes (the longer you wait, the more the product will do for you). Then, gently push back the cuticle using the rounded side of a cuticle pusher—any basic one will do. The key word here is gently.

  3. Shape the Nail: Cut nails as needed, but you’ll want to do the majority of your shaping with a nail file. Create a subtle, round shape, filing the nail in one direction (‘sawing’ it back and forth can cause nails to peel). We like the Deborah Lippmann Eco File Nail Set ($12) for regular use, but if we were looking to splurge, we’d definitely go for the Chanel La Lime À Ongles Limited-Edition Nail File ($30).

  4. Prep the Nail: Use the other side of your cuticle pusher to clean underneath the nails as needed, before wiping your nail plates clean with nail polish remover. Once dry, apply a base coat, like the OPI Natural Nail Base Coat ($12).

  5. Paint Nails: As is often the case with at-home manicures, the actual painting tends to be the hardest part—especially when it’s time to use your nondominant hand. We’ll talk color recommendations in a moment, but right now let’s focus on technique. Load up one side of your brush with a generous amount of polish (just wipe the excess off the other side) and simply glide the brush over the nail, starting at the center and connecting with a swipe on either side. Keep pressure light and consistent. If any polish ends up outside the nail itself, use a small brush, like the Olive & June Clean Up Brush ($8) dipped in remover to clean up any mistakes. Depending on your desired opacity, apply one to three coats of color.

  6. Apply Top Coat: Opt for a glossy top coat to finish off, like LondonTown’s Kur High Gloss Top Coat ($20).

  7. Finish With Cuticle Oil: Once nails are completely dry, apply a cuticle oil to hydrate the area and add a high-shine finish. We suggest reapplying cuticle oil daily (even multiple times daily) as needed to keep nails in tip-top shape. We love the Ten Over Ten Rose Oil Cuticle Treatment ($26); it’s ultra nourishing and the perfect size to take on the go.

The Best Nail Polishes for Clean Girl Nails

  • Essie Nail Polish in Ballet Slippers: It’s a classic for a reason. Essie’s Nail Polish in Ballet Slippers ($11) is a perfect pale, almost milky, pink with a sheer finish.

  • OPI Infinite Shine Long-Wear Nail Polish in Half Past Nude: For an ultra glossy neutral hue, try the OPI Infinite Shine Long-Wear Nail Polish in Half Past Nude ($14). The blushy nude tone screams clean girl aesthetic.

  • Olive & June Long-Lasting Polish in EC: Named for the bonafide effortlessly cool legend, Eva Chen, the Olive & June Long-Lasting Polish in EC ($9) is one of the most elegant nail polish colors we’ve ever come across. Not quite nude, not quite pink, the good-for-you formula features a glossy, high-shine finish.

  • Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Nail Polish in Written in the Sand: If you prefer a more nude tone, try the Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro in Written in the Sand ($20). The neutral beige creme hue is a bit more full coverage than some of our other picks, but it’s a seriously stunning choice.

  • Glamentics Press-On Nail Kit in Little Miss: Nail painting not your thing? No problem. Try a press-on set like the Glamnetics Press-On Kit in Little Miss ($15), which features short, round press-on nails with a semi-transparent base and micro flower graphics.

  • Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in 111 Ballerina: For a classic pale pink manicure, try the Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in 111 Ballerina ($32). It’s that perfect almost-nude pink, plus the seriously chic bottle looks great on display.

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