The paint chip nails trend is perfect for those who love all the colors

Woman's fingernails pained in paint-chip colors

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Do you struggle to commit to a nail polish color? There are so many hues available these days that picking a polish has never been more difficult.

No wonder the newest trend in nail design is “paint chip nails.” No, this doesn’t mean that chipped nail polish is trendy (we can dream), but instead, this polish trend is based on the paint swatch cards you see at stores like Home Depot. You know, the cards that have different shades of paint colors that just barely look different but give totally different vibes?

That’s what this nail trend is all about. While wearing completely different nail polish colors has enjoyed a moment (like the accent color trend) this trend is all about just slight shade variations.

This type of nail art has been around for years (this Instagram post showing a paint chip manicure is from 2019), but recently it’s been getting a decent amount of press that’s put it in the spotlight.

Here’s a 2021 post from @nailsmailed on TikTok briefly explaining the concept:

@nailsmailed Paint chip manis mix different shades of your favorite colors! #nailstickers #gradientnails #gradientnail #pinknails #pinktoks #colorfulnails ♬ PINK For All – PINK

To really recreate this trend, you want your polish (or press-on nails, or nail stickers, as shown above) to shift in depth just by a few shades at maximum, staying within the same color family.

This gives natural variety to your nail colors that mimic the different shades we see in nature, like the many similar hues of a sunset or the colors of changing leaves. In fact, this is a perfect trend for autumn-inspired nails.

“For fall, go with the warm brown tones, or try oranges,”  manicurist Halle Michel tells Real Simple.

You should try to make sure the colors have similar undertones and the same finish, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be fun. For example, you can also add depth and visual interest by including a polish with sparkle. And if you are worried about picking out polish colors that will complement each other, look for a pre-selected set of nail shades.

The one below, from Modelones on Amazon, includes six different fall-themed polishes for $13.99 off a regular price of $18.99.


MORE: This trendy ‘vanilla chrome’ manicure is absolutely perfect for summer

We also like the idea of going with different shades of green or grayscale nails — especially if you like those witchy and gothic vibes. Bonus points for adding nail decals like bats or spiderwebs! (Find this grayscale press-on set on Sarah’s Sparkles Nails.)

Sarah's Sparkle Nails

We love this option with purple and blue shades from Beetles Gel Polish. The set of six gel polish colors is $8.99 on Amazon right now, but you can get different combinations from $8.99-$16.99.


MORE: What is nail slugging, and should you be doing it?

This is a trend that’s perfect for experimentation, so enjoy!

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About the Author
Bridget Sharkey
Bridget Sharkey is a freelance writer covering pop culture, beauty, food, health and nature.

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