eluxe magazine

The Best Nail Shapes & Shades For Summer 2021

An easy update to your holiday look? Change your nail shapes & shades for summer!

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

If there’s one thing we’ve missed this past year, it’s getting our nails done. Right, girls? Nails are the perfect accessory, and if you’ve had to skip your last mani-pedi, you’re likely hiding your hands in horror! But don’t sweat it. Summer is upon us, and it’s time to pamper ourselves at the nail salon. And if there’s one thing I know about this season’s nail trends it’s this: they’re pretty bold!

Whether your choice of shape is the almond, ballerina, stiletto or squoval, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and really go big this summer.

The Perfect Shape

Wondering what nail art, colours, and shapes are worth trying out as the new season arrives? Here’s what we know: dark colours are out! Summer nails are all about vibrancy or soft, feminine shades. Mint green and yellow are among the daring shades on trend this summer, but timeless classics like pink and grey are still in.

Courtney Fuhr, Brand Manager of South Africa’s biggest beauty brand, Sorbet Salons shared her expert advice with Eluxe to help you nail it when it comes to shapes and shades this summer. Of course, all the polishes recommended here are:  nature-based * cruelty-free *  gluten-free *  fragrance free *  toxin free *  paraben free and phthalate-free.


Though it’s fabulous that our nails are going to be as high as our spirits this summer, you’ll want to be sure your bold shade doesn’t discolour your nails! If your polish does make your tips the colour of dog pee, use a hydrogen peroxide solution, lemon juice, baking soda paste, or whitening toothpaste are ideal to safely whiten them.  

Using an acetone nail polish remover is a known culprit in exacerbating the yellow tint, so always opt for a non-acetone nail polish remover like this Zao Nail Polish Remover when taking off your colour, and don’t forget that often, staining from colour polishes is caused by not using a clear base coat, so don’t forget to use one. Zao Nail Polish Duo Top & Base Coat is perfect to have on hand.

Main image: designsponge

The Best Nail Shapes & Shades for Summer 2021

The Almond  fcc0b93d-8bb6-45a6-9d1b-55b2a7baf314

A top pick for celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Selena Gomez, the Almond shape is slender on the side, wide at the cuticle and finishes with a soft oval at the nail tip. Courtney says:

“This is a flattering shape for the hands as it elongates the fingers creating a very feminine finish. If you have weak nails, but desire long nails then this is the shape for you! The Almond is easier to achieve with natural nails as the rounded edges provide less impact to the sides of the nails, preventing any splitting or damage. Remember to start short though, long nails require care and attention!”

The Perfect Shades for the Shape: A trend-setter with a feminine edge, pastel shades complement the almond shape well. Wanting to make a statement? The almond shape suit lots of creative nail trends this summer, from abstract nails to whimsical daisies.

1. Butterflies

What screams ‘summer’ more than butterflies? And now you can get them on your nails! Either you can paint on a base coat in whatever colour you love, then draw over that with a black nail pen, or if you’re lucky, you can find gorgeous press-on versions of these.

Image: @jessicawashick on Instagram

butterfly nails

2. Blue & White Nails

One of the best nail shapes & shades for summer is a blue/white look on an almond nail. And what’s not to love? The bold splash of blue paired with a splash of white is stunning, and reminds me of the sea and sky.

There are so many blue shades to try this trend with, but personally, I think a brighter blue works best. Mavala’s 103 Cobalt Blue would be my pick!

Image: @glossimani on Instagram

nail shapes & shades for summer

3. Abstract Nails

If you’ve been following nail shapes & shades for summer, one look you will have seen all over Instagram is the abstract nail trend. And the best part? There is no wrong way to do it! If you like curly lines, go for it. If you want to incorporate some dots, go ahead. The whole point of abstract nails is to make a really unique set of nails.

Image: @amyle.nails on Instagram

nail shapes & shades for summer

4. Daisy Chains

Who doesn’t appreciate a pretty daisy? And thanks to celebs like Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid, retro florals are a nail trend that will still be swinging this summer. There are plenty of ways to do the daisies but I think they look gorgeous on these white nails with a touch of gold. This style also looks great on long or short nails.

Image: @nolas.nails on Instagram

nail shapes & shades for summer

5. Cartoon Nails

What would your mani look like if you were a character in a comic book? Nail artist Jessica Washick came up with this look, which we love! Easy to do, and super fun. Isn’t that what summer’s all about, after all?

Image: @jessicawashick on Instagram

cartoon nails

6. Jelly Nails

These nails give me real childhood vibes when I used to put glue on my nails to make it look like I had a set of acrylics, ha! But jelly nails have officially been a summer thing for years! The sheer lacquer gives them a see-through appearance which is pretty fun.

Not sure how to get jelly nails? Just click here!

Image: @jessicawashick on Instagram

The Stiletto  4df23d70-5784-461f-9ff2-57c9087cf795

Love it or hate it, the stiletto has well and truly confirmed its presence in the nail industry. Harsh and strong, the stiletto shape requires intense filing on either side of the nail to create a sharp and drastic point.

“This is not a shape that can be achieved without the help of acrylic tips as our natural nails just don’t have the strength to hold the point.” Says Courtney. Acrylic tips aren’t exactly eco-friendly, so we’d recommend rounding the tip off a bit if you want to do this with your own nails instead. You’ll also need to have pretty long nails to do this right. Here are few tips on how to grow your nails fast:

The Perfect Shade for the Shape: Loud and proud, the stiletto nail is not shy, so why hold back on your colour choice?  This style is all about making a statement.

7. Emilio Pucci–Inspired Nail Art

The Pucci-inspired nail-art trend is one of those nail shapes & shades for summer that is spilling in from spring trends. The blend of bright shades and Pucci’s abstract designs give you bold, statement nails that are creative as they are stylish.

Image: @nailsbysaryna on Instagram

pucci manicure

8. Coral Red

If you’re looking to go bright and bold with your nail shapes & shades for summer, then you’ll love the coral red trend. Red nails are a classic, but this brighter shade is perfect for the warmer weather. This year is all about coral red and is perfect for everything from beach visits to cocktail parties.

Image: @gelovenechtylilien on Instagram

stiletto nails

9. Floating Line Nails

Floating or free-form triple lines will be a big trend this summer. And the really cool thing about this nail trend is that you can get super creative! I especially love a nude nail with a bold line, or added metallic for shimmer.

Image: @nailartnatasha on Instagram

abstract manicure

10. Tortoiseshell Nails

This is one of the key nail shapes & shades for summer, but it has been around for awhile. The speckled caramel is gorgeous, and you can even adapt the tortoiseshell design to incorporate different shades and colours.

Start with a caramel base like Nailberry’s Golden Hour. Then you want to add small amounts of brown to start the tortoiseshell effect. Kure Bazaar’s Sophisticato is a lovely shade for this. Finally, grab a black shade like Zoya’s Raven Nail Polish to set it off perfectly.

Image: @winnieisawesome on Instagram

nail shapes & shades for summer

11. Glitter Nails

Who doesn’t love a bit of contained glitter? And one glorious way to enjoy it is on your set of nails. Gradient glitter nails are going to be a big trend this summer, but also just glitter in general. You don’t want it to be overbearing, so keep it chic with a nude colour as your base.

Paficia’s Rose Quartz polish is the perfect pink for replicating these nails. Zoya’s Cosmo polish is all the eco-friendly glitter you’ll need for statement nails.

Image: @naglarmolnlycke on Instagram

nail shapes & shades for summer

The Coffin  a3de0899-5508-4008-bc49-c86f7ecf9ede

A  similar shape to the stiletto, but here the tip of the nail is squared off in a shape that is reminiscent of a, ahem, coffin. But a cuter name for the style is ballet slipper. The coffin is an edgy style and great for those looking for something a little different. It has the bold appearance of the stiletto yet is a bit understated with its square tip, giving it that edgy and on-trend look. Also referred to as the ‘bullet’ shape, this one is a lot more life-friendly than the stiletto as it is less likely to catch on pieces of clothing.

The Perfect Shade for the Shape: A feminine, high fashion and pristinely polished nail shape, the coffin shape looks great with pastel shades but even better with bright and bold styles! This style has previously worked great for pastel shades, but summer 2021 is about being bright and beautiful.

12. Mainly White Nails

Is it even summer if you don’t paint your nails white at least once? Especially when you’re rocking a tan, it’s such a fresh colour to choose for your nails. And the timeless and classic white is still trendy this summer. A white nail is pretty universal in that it suits everyone and every nail shape. So you can’t go wrong at all!

Kure Bazaar’s French White Nail is a real crisp white which would work well with this style. If you’re doing your own nails, it’s easy to make them looks professional with this polish.

Image: @toledonails on Instagram

nail shapes & shades for summer

13. Fruity Neon Nails

Wanting to go all out with your manicure this summer? Nothing is bolder than a bit of neon! Think bright greens, tangerine orange, hot pink and electric yellow. From neon nails to neon tips, this is another trend you can have lots of fun with. I mean, how cute is this fruity cuticle mani?

When it comes to neon shades, Zoya has you covered. This handy 6-pack has all their brightest 2021 shades. Oakley is a fiery orange, Zelda a pink-coral neon, Janie a hot pink, Banks a violet neon, Echo a blue neon, and Link is electric green.

Image: @denasnails on Instagram

nail shapes & shades for summer

14. Sunset Nails

Who doesn’t feel good when watching a sunset? Now you can capture the ombre hues of sunset on your nails this summer. Blend a darker orange into a lighter shade to get the ombre effect easily.

There are so many wonderful shades to recreate this trend with. Grab a bold shade like Glossworks Last Mango in Paris for the bottom, and blend it into a shade such as Glossworks Sunset Boulevard.

Image: @doobysnails on Instagram

sunset orange nails

15. Gold Flakes

Pastel nails are still on trend this summer, but if you’re wanting a subtle yet stylish decal for your set of nails, you’ll love adding some gold flakes. Definitely not overboard, but stunning, these suit a nude, white or soft pink nail best.

Image: @thi.beautybox on Instagram

gold glitter nails

16. Shades Of Blue

Love blue but can’t decide which shade to go for? Wear them all! A trend that is big this summer is wearing multiple shades of one colour. This trend is flattering on every fingernail shape and length and is flattering for all skin tones. It’s not restricted to blue, either. You can pretty much wear any colour you like.

Mavala has so many perfect shades of blue, they’re fab for re-creating this look. For your darker blues, Trinidad, Cobalt Blue, and Blue Mountain work perfectly. And for lighter shades, you can’t go wrong with Sky Blue and Blue Siesta.

Image: @nailsbyjazmynn on Instagram 

nail shapes & shades for summer

The Squoval  8cefdb9f-41c4-4e34-868e-2eb132c66909

A more natural and feminine shape, the squoval puts a rounded touch on the traditional square-shaped manicure.

“With softer edges, the squoval is a great shape to maintain on shorter nails which suffer with weakness. The squoval is also a very convenient and sensible shape for those who work in an office environment or are still at school. You can’t go wrong with this classic!”

The Perfect Shade for the Shape: Understated and practical, the Squoval provides the perfect shape for just about any colour. You can keep it neutral with earthy tones and matte finishes or you can encapsulate the summer trends and go bright.

17. Mint Nails

Granted, green isn’t a colour we all love. But spearmint is a shade I think we can all agree is lovely! It’s a real fresh shade that is flattering for all skin tones – and it looks great with a tan!

Orly’s Happy Camper is the perfect subtle shade for minty nails. Want a deeper green? Côte’s No. 63
Mint Green Nail Polish is bang on-trend.

Image: @trendnailsbybella on Instagram

mint nails

18. Skittle Nails

Skittle nails are pretty much everything at once! Because honestly, why pick just one colour when you can have them all? This trend is great because it’s really easy to do at home. Just grab five of your favourite pastel or neon shades and get painting!

Mavala’s Pastel Fiesta range of nail polishes are the perfect candy hues for this trend and any other ones that feature sweet shades for summer. This set includes 6 minis of their pastel shades, perfect for trying out this trend from the comfort of your own home.

Image: @opi_nordic on Instagram

nail shapes & shades for summer

19. Sunshine Yellow Nails

When it comes to colours that can really make you stand out, it doesn’t get more vibrant than yellow. It’s easily the most luminous shade to wear on your nails, and I think it’s very poignant for the past year to be wearing such a sunny colour.

Looking for a lemony yellow? Mavala’s Lemon Drop Nail Polish is perfect! Looking for more of a sunny shade? NailKind’s Flip Flop is a sunny yellow that will really pop.

Image: @french_e_manis on Instagram

nail shapes & shades for summer

20. French Manicures

One of the most classic nail shapes & shades for summer is the French manicure. But now, instead of the traditional white tips, multicolour tips are a fun twist on this nail trend. Choose one colour for the tips are go for a rainbow effect.

If you can get your hands on some nail pens for this trend, it’ll make it easy to create statement tips for your set of nails. But if you can’t find any, don’t despair. Simply paint the tips freehand (just don’t drink too much coffee beforehand!)

Hands not so steady? Use nail tape to get a perfect line. When dry simply peel away and you’ve got a perfect mani!

Image: @nail.by.eliza on Instagram

nail shapes & shades for summer

21. Candy Pink Nails

Always had a thing for Barbie pink? Now you can wear a shade that would make Barbie proud. Always feminine, candy pink on a squoval is another of the best nail shapes & shades for summer. Want to make a real statement? Match your nails to your lippy!

Nailberry’s L’Oxygene Lacquer is perfect for nailing this shade and Zoya Ali Nail Polish is a hot-pink dream!

Image: @zenicurenails

nail shapes & shades for summer

What’s your favourite of these nail shapes & shades for summer? Let us know in the comments below! Oh, and make sure you paint your nails perfectly, like a pro! It may be something you’ve been doing since you were a kid, but you could always brush up your technique, right?


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