Hang Ten — It’s Summer Mani Mayhem!

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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We know you’ve been wondering what’s been missing from your life, but don’t worry because we figured it out — more nail polish. How better to complement all thesundresses and gladiator sandals we’ve been stocking up on than with the season’s best lacquers? 

We gathered up 16 of the hottest new colors and asked celebrity manicurist Eri Handa to work her mani magic and come up with five summer-perfect ways to wear ’em. Then we got crafty with our scissors and created some paper cut-out tableaux to showcase them in all their gorgeous glory. Scroll through to see our faves, plus some inventive ideas on how to rock them. They’re everything you ever wanted, and so very much more.


Neon Smörgåsbord
There’s a little of this, a little of that, and all of it in eye-searing neon — so much to love. For this look, Handa mixed and matched colors and designs, doing a half-moon here, a reverse French tip there, a 50/50 split over there. The key is to separate the nail art with a non-designed nail, and to make sure you don’t have two of the same color on adjacent nails. 

It’s important to pick complementary hues, like mixing pink and green, or orange and yellow. Also imperative? Making sure you add a topcoat: “Neon polishes tend to dry quickly and lose their vibrancy,” says Handa. “This can make them look dull, so in order to keep them shiny, you must use a topcoat over them.”


From left: Ruby Wing Color-Changing Nail Polish in Electric Firefly, $10, available at Ruby WingColor Club Fiesta Nail Polish in Flamingo, $5.90, available at AmazonRuby Wing Color-Changing Nail Polish in Crowd Surf, Green Peace, and Summer Love, $10 each, available at Ruby Wing.


We love the graphic effect a two-tone mani in complementary colors creates, but we’re kinda over the usual half moon and French tip iterations. Handa brought out the best in these green hues by creating sharp lines with a triangle insert at the nail bed. 

“Sharp angles add surprise value to where you would normally expect to see rounded edges,” says Handa. “It’s a nice way to deviate from the norm and add interest where you least expect it.”

Vera Meat Spine Ring, $88, available at Vera MeatVera Meat Starfish Ring, $128, available at Vera Meat.


Essie Nail Polish in Naughty Nautical and The More The Merrier, $8 each, available at Beauty.com.


Comic Book Coloring
Rather than doing your run-of-the-mill colorblocking, Handa created even more contrast by separating these two shades with a stark black line that gave the whole nail a cool, comic-book feel. 

To help perfect the line, Handa says she uses her pinky to stabilize when drawing. She also says it’s easier to attempt as one quick stroke, rather than doing it piecemeal, which can wind up looking stilted and messy. 

Wanderluster Selma Stacking Rings, $50 each, available at Wanderluster; Wanderluster Alpine Pearl Ring, $55, available at Wanderluster.


Jin Soon Nail Lacquer in Voile, $18, available at SpaceNKSally Hansen Nail Art Pen in Black, $7.99, available at UltaSpaRitual Nail Lacquer in Optimistic, $12, available at Dermstore.


Do The Polka
We know, we know — there’s nothing that revolutionary about polka dots. But look how adorable they are! To get the perfect dot, Handa recommends using the end of a toothpick or a bobby pin and dipping it in the polish, then dotting “lightly and consistently.”


RGB Cosmetics Nail Polish in Pool, 18, available at Net-A-PorterColor Club Nail Polish in Endless Summer, $8, available at Color Club.


Metal Mania
There were so many jaw-droppingly gorgeous metallics to choose from this summer that we couldn’t pick just one. So, we went ahead and just put them all on our nails. “Metallics can be strong, but also feminine,” says Handa. “If neon is for those hot summer days, metallic is great for more fancy outings at night.”

Using multiple colors on your nails can run the risk of looking like a haphazard mess, so Handa says to make a plan before you start painting. “You don’t want your nails to look like a test sample, and thinking ahead about what you’re going to wear makes it clear that you did it on purpose,” she says.


From left: Sephora + Pantone UniverseSpectral Nail Polish in Antique Gold and Waterfall, $10 each, available at SephoraTom Ford Beauty Nail Lacquer in Vapor, $30, available at Saks Fifth AvenueButter London Nail Lacquer in Marbs, $15, available at B-GlowingBobbi Brown Shimmer Nail Polish in Pink Pearl, $18, available at Bobbi Brown

Manicures by Eri Handa; Modeled by Hazel at Flaunt Models

Photographed by Amelia Alpaugh

Click HERE to read more from Refinery29.

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