With spring well and truly underway, and summer hot on our heels (hopefully literally), pastel tones are the cutesy but classy replacement for the moody shades that stake claim to our fingertips during the colder months.
But they're not for everyone, and TBH if you’d have asked me what I thought before I experimented with the muted hues myself, I’d have said pastels were a sickly sweet and overdone spring trend. But how wrong I was.
If you’re put off by ‘cutesy’, don’t be. No longer are we confined to baby pink and sky blue, oh no. Sage green, creamy lilac, and pale lemon are having their moment RN, and the beauty of these shades is that they can be as bold or as understated as you like. Try fresh designs like abstract swirls or checkerboard, keep it simple with a one-colour gel mani, or spotlight every tone with rainbow tips – the possibilities are endless.
Inspired by my Insta feed, I set out to give spring 2022’s trendiest pastel nail art a whirl. But as a nail art novice, applying a coat of clear polish was about as far as my skills would get me. So, I enlisted the help of a pro nail technician to get the perfect pastel manicure. To save myself the trouble of trawling the web, and pestering everyone in my contacts list for salon recs, I used Booksy – an app designed to take the stress out of booking beauty appointments – and found Emma Jade (@emmajadenails). She's a Birmingham-based nail tech and specialises in all things nails. And although I might have mused earlier about all the pattern and colour combo possibilities, I entrusted her to design me a set of talons that are truly Pinterest-worthy.
Before Emma got to work painting the intricate designs, she prepped my natural nails for some extensions. Longer nails aren't usually my go-to because, short of tapping away on my phone, I struggle to do anything with themon. Unluckily for me though, my natural nails are as sturdy as tissue paper so Emma used gel tips and BIAB (builder in a bottle) to add some strength and length.
Going into this as a lover of autumn, and the rich, earthy tones that come with it, I wasn't sold on the idea of a full-on pastel set. So, rather than diving in at the deep end with all-over colour, we played with some of 2022's biggest nail trends – think swirls, negative space, coloured tips – to create a look that was still very much pastel but subtle enough for everyday wear.
I'm a pastel nail convert. It can be easy to dismiss pastels a childish, albeit pretty, trend that's been done to death. But, done right and the result is as sleek yet fun mani.
If securing a seat at the salon is proving tough, here's some springtime nail inspo that packs a major punch with minimal effort, and all the products you'll need to try them out at home. Thank me later.
Dubbed 'skittles nails', this simple but effective mani features a different colour on each nail. For a super opaque finish, start with a white base coat to make the colours pop. Essie's spring 2022 collection features 6 creamy shades perfect for this skittles manicure.
Peach and pink negative space
Negative space nails are all over the 'gram ATM. Leave your nails bare, or apply a nude base, and DIY the swirls using an ultra fine detail brush.
Crowned 2022's 'colour of the year' by Pantone, periwinkle is everywhere. This vegan polish from Nails Inc. is the perfect bluebell shade for a pop of colour.
Reverse French tips
Show your cuticles some love with this inverted French tip design. Simply paint a thin line, following the curve of your nail. Or, if you don't fancy going freehand, use a nail stencil to guide you.
This glimmering lilac polish is the epitome of spring glam. For Sugar Plum Fairy-level sparkle, try LENA's 'What's Yours is Shine' shade.
Lean into earthy, botanical vibes with sage green. Lime and mint's paired-back sister, sage is a sophisticated take on the pastel nail trend. Get the look using Nailberry's 'Love you very Matcha' polish.
Who's got the time (or skill) to be painting tiny oranges on their own nails? Definitely not me, and probably not you. Nail stickers are the minimum effort, maximum payoff route to a funky mani that looks like it took you ages to perfect. Get stuck in with Naio's orange-themed sticker sheet.
YK2 is the trend in 2022. But those squared off, Tipp-Ex white Frenchies of the noughties have officially retired. Switch up the classic French manicure with pastel shades and a rounded shape. Recreate this muted rainbow set with Barry M's 'Rainbow Reload' polishes.
If you're not 100% convinced by pastels, try dressing them up with neon accents. Paint each finger a different pastel shade a là skittles nails, then place a small neon dot at the base of each nail to liven up the look. Give it a go with Barry M's 'Hi Vis' neon paints and Manicurist's dotting tool.
DIYing this is way easier than it looks – promise. Once again, stickers come to the rescue and this peaches-themed sheet is no different. But, if you're looking to test out your nail art skills, you'll need a decent brush set (and a seriously steady hand) to achieve this look.
What says spring like yellow? The sun, daffodils, buttercups; yellow is springtime's MVP. Try out this sleek, sunny manicure using O.P.I's 'Make My Daisy' lacquer.
Calling all maximalists: this multicolour, and multi-design, nail set is the answer to all of your spring mani prayers. Skip painting the designs on yourself; save time with these funky nail wraps. Just stick em' on and you're good to go.
Longing to be lazing by the pool? These nails will take you there. Paint a sky blue strip at the tip of your nail. Once dry, line the tip with a deeper shade. Use a polish that comes with a liner brush for precise application.
Diamantés + stars = a winning combo. Paint tiny pastel stars onto a nude base and top each star with a gemstone. This set comes with tools to make the gemstone application a breeze. The result? Subtle but stunning.
Let's be real, florals and spring are basically synonymous; so what better way to get into the season than with flowery nails? This hand-pressed flower look is easy to replicate with dainty floral stickers.
Pastel polka dots
Ah, the old faithful. Polka dots are a nail art classic, not only because they look great but also because they're so easy to do. Opt for a peachy base, like Dior's 'apricot' polish that also strengthens the nail, and get to work with a dotting tool.
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