Cool-Girl Nail Art Ideas (No Sequins Required)

Photo: Courtesy of Sally Hansen.
Nail art has been dying a slow death. For years, people have been claiming the end is nigh for the trend — and, over the past few seasons, designers have preferred a single (beige) hue as opposed to mini-paintings on the nails. But not this year. Lately, we've seen nail designs so cool, we're tempted to pick up our striping pens again.

From geometric shapes and metallic shine to simple appliqués and topcoats, this crop of styles is sophisticated, wearable, and super-easy to master at home. Don't have a steady hand? There's something in here for you, too.

Ahead, find the nail art looks that have us itching to get creative again. Call it a comeback of epic proportions.
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Image: Courtesy of KISS.
Manicurist Gina Edwards painted on bright-yellow polish at Daniel Silverstain. But the real playfulness came from the silver foil tape, which Edwards pulled from KISS' Nail Art Starter Kit and placed on every finger.
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Image: Courtesy of CND.
There was some major pattern play over at Libertine — including stripes, checkers, and plaid. It just goes to show that one design is never enough. (And a steady hand, or striping tape, is a must.)
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Image: Courtesy of Essie.
Even though they look nude, the nails at Ji Oh were actually a mix of peach and sheer-pink Essie polish shades. First, manicurist Rita Remark laid down a coat of Resort Fling, followed by a layer of Sugar Daddy. Then, once dry, she drew on the navy stripes with After Schoolboy Blazer.
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Photo: Courtesy of Sally Hansen.
Random navy blue dots on the nails at Adam Selman reminded us of googly eyes — in the best way possible.
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Image: Courtesy of Essie.
At Brooks Brothers by Zac Posen, the nails were all about primary colors. A cheery, red coat of Essie Fifth Avenue was accented with sky blue stripes of Pret-a-Surfer for a preppy, tartan feel.
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Image: Courtesy of Essie.
To get the gorgeous pale-pink shade at Naeem Khan, manicurist Julie Kandalec mixed Essie Topless & Barefoot with Limo-Scene. She added some chunky silver glitter (Set In Stones) at the bottom of the nail for a modern, reverse-French-manicure look.
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Image: Courtesy of Caption Polish.
Consider the nail art at Nanette Lepore the easiest you'll ever try. Manicurist Soo Kim painted on two coats of Caption Polish in Look, Don't Touch (a glossy black). Then, she swept on the brand's Heaven Help Me (a silvery white) with quick, breezy brushstrokes. How simple is that?
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Image: Courtesy of Morgan Taylor.
Sheer nails with tiny metallic accents were everywhere this season. At Noon by Noor, Edwards painted on Morgan Taylor Nail Polish in One and Only (a beigey-pink), followed by a silver, off-center strip of Could Have Foiled Me.
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Image: Courtesy of Butter London.
Butter London manicurist Katie Jane Hughes used the coolest polish technique ever at Nicole Miller. First, she painted on two coats of Butter London Nail Lacquer in Cotton Buds (a creamy white), before dipping a bobby pin in the brand's iconic Union Jack Black. She then positioned the pin over the nail, and blew on it to create the splatter effect. She repeated the technique with Easy Peasy, a new hue for spring. Who says bobby pins are just for your hair?
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Image: Courtesy of Butter London.
The whimsical, feathery nails at Tadashi Shoji came down to application. Hughes used Butter London's Ombré Brush to sweep on sheer layers of Cotton Buds (white), Muggins (pale lilac), and Molly Coddled (pinky-purple).
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Image: Courtesy of Zoya.
Shaky fingers? Suno's ombré job is for you. Manicurist Honey painted beige nail polish (Zoya in Avery) on the bottom half of the nail, swept powdery-blue (Zoya in Kristen) on the top half, and then used a sponge to blend them in the middle.
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Image: Courtesy of CND.
The mesmerizing metallic nails at The Blonds were inspired by ancient Egyptian jewelry. Some of the models even had press-on talons that connected to cuffs on their wrists. Major.
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Image: Courtesy of Essie.
Manicurist Michelle Saunders sponged on layers of Essie Tart Deco, Marshmallow, Beach Bum Blu, and Midnight Cami for the gorgeous, sunset effect on the nails at Rebecca Minkoff.
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Image: Courtesy of Essie.
French manicures aren't going anywhere. At Veronica Beard, Glamsquad for Essie reimagined them in orange, using the brand's Clambake polish.
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Image: via @sally_hansen.
Manicurist Madeline Poole employed the simplest nail art technique we could ever ask for at Prabal Gurung. After painting on two coats of yellow polish (Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Mum's the Word), she picked up a bottle of white lacquer. "Just make an easy swipe with white [nail polish], and fill it in," she says. "The design shouldn't match from nail to nail." Sounds good (and easy!) to us.
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Photo: John Lamparski/ WireImage/ Getty Images.
Leave it to Betsey Johnson to take black-and-white checks to the next level.
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Image: Courtesy of Sally Hansen.
What's blue and white and striped all over? The negative-space polish look at Tanya Taylor. Poole used a striping pen to carefully draw two lines (one chunky, one thin) of Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Full Blue-m horizontally through the center of the nails.
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Image: via @misspopnails.
At Erin Fetherston, manicurist Miss Pop dotted the models' nails with appliqué flowers, which were accented with teeny-tiny pearls. It's girly-girl nail art — all grown up.
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Image: via @gingerandliz.
We love how the black-and-white nails at Phelan extended down past the cuticles for an edgier effect.
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Image: Courtesy of Sally Hansen.
Is it just us, or does the metallic striping at 3.1 Phillip Lim look like next-level tinfoil? Manicurists layered metallic tape over Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in All Bark to get the look.
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Image: Courtesy of Jin Soon.
Tibi's negative-space manicure seems like something we can definitely do at home. (The gorgeous aqua shade is part of Jin Soon's spring 2016 collection.)
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Image: Courtesy of Jin Soon.
Even oversized shimmer is seeing a new day. Lie Sangbong's gals sported this icy look on their fingernails, courtesy of Jin Soon nail polish in Sahara.
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Photo: Vivien Killilea/ Getty Images.
Why get a white-tipped French manicure when you can have a gold-encrusted one? Just take a cue from Nicholas K and pick up some gold-leaf foil and nail glue.
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Photo: via @misspopnails.
Minimalists rejoice: Marissa Webb's nail art was a wash of white with a single, off-center black stripe.
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