The best summer nail polish colours: 7 Beauty Panel favourites (and some nail art, too!)

summer nail art
summer nail art

It would be an understatement to say that nail art hasn’t completely saturated the beauty world. From Anne Hathaway’s neon manicure at the Met gala to Hailee Steinfeld’s pop art nails at Comic Con, nail art is still going strong throughout summer.

While A-list stars turn to nail gurus like Kimmie Kyees (Rihanna’s go-to) and Tom Bachik (he does Beyoncé, Zooey Dechannel and Jennifer Lopez) DIY nail art can look just as red carpet-worthy. Although scrolling through thousands of nail art images on Pinterest may be one way to get inspired, the Beauty Panel is here to lend us a hand. This week they’re sharing top tips and tricks on the best nail art looks for summer. From pastel shades to chevron nail art to glitter top coats, we’re pretty sure you’ll be reaching for a bottle of nail polish before you finish reading this post.

Challenge 22: What’s your favourite nail polish colour to wear this summer? See the answers now! »

While Alison Leong from Alison Elle shows off her graphic, colour-block nails, Makeup by Tess’s Tess Lopez shares a trick on how to use nail art to make our nails look nice and elongated. If you’re skeptical at trying out nail art, both A Pop of Colour’s Shayna Wiwierski and Spiced Beauty’s Jennifer Francis strongly believe that glitter will be your lifesaver. Though Shayna says she’s nail art klutz, her manicure is anything but sloppy-looking. To add a bit of glitter to her neutral toned nails, she recommends reaching for a sparkly nail polish or nail stickers (when you’re short on time) to layer over your existing colour. In the market for new nail art tools? Jennifer shares her go-to place for affordable and easy to use products.

Have a beauty question you want to see the panel answer? Send it our way at Read on for the answers to this week’s challenge and for more goodness, get to know all contributors on our Beauty Panel hub page.


summer nail art Shayna

Shayna Wiwierski
Winnipeg | A Pop of Colour

Usually in the summer I find myself gravitating towards neon colours, however, this season I have been more mute in my colour choices.  I have been absolutely loving blush pinks because they are such a clean colour and it goes with any outfit.

To spice up this sometimes “plain” mani, I love to add a bit of gold.  Being the nail art klutz that I am, I sometimes need a little help (hello Pinterest!).  If I’m short on time, I’ll turn towards nail stickers, especially ones that you can layer over your existing mani.  For this look I used L’Oréal Paris Nail Lingerie in “Elite Chic,” which adds a gradient gold effect to any colour.  Truly a head turner for any summer nail polish.

Products used: Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in “Shell We Dance” and L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Nail Lingerie in “Elite Chic.”

summer nail art Jenn

Jennifer Francis
Durham | Spiced Beauty

The idea of nail art scares a lot of people. Overall it can be quite simple. Did you know that you could use products from your dollar store as nail art? Remember those circular reinforcements for lined paper? They can be used as a guide for a half moon manicures. How about those white makeup sponges? Cut them up to create an ombre nail look with your favourite polish. When all else fails use what you have! Glitter is one of my summer nail lifesavers. In the summer, all I wear are bright bold colours. Whenever my manicures get old I just slap some glitter on and I get another week or two out of my manicure.

Products used: Avon MegaWatt Nail Enamel in “Shock” and “Pop” and Hard Candy Nail Lacquer in “Hip Hip Hooray.”

summer nail art Aleeza

Aleeza Agno
Toronto | Stylish & Literate

One of my favourite summer manicures is a rose gold gradient. It’s a beautiful combination that shines in the sun and it’s really easy to do. 

To start, you’ll need to apply a metallic copper base. I love Orly’s “Rage” because it has a hint of rose gold to it. A great alternative is Essie’s “Penny Talk.”

To get the gradient look, lightly layer a coppery pink glitter polish half-way up the nail, concentrating on the tips. I used a combination of Deborah Lippmann’s “Some Enchanted Evening” and Butter London’s “Rosie Lee.” Another great alternative is Essie’s “A Cut Above.”

 This is an easy technique you can use to create many different gradient looks that are perfect for the summer.

Products used: Orly Nail Lacquer in “Rage,” Deborah Lippmann in “Some Enchanted Evening” and Butter London in “Rosie Lee”

summer nail art JJ

JJ Cowan
Toronto | Secrets From Your Girlfriends

Nail art has made an unstoppable reemergence onto the nail polish scene due to its favorability with the DIY movement and it is no question that the summer months are full of creative endeavors searching for the perfect seasonal polish. Personally, I have been obsessed with the perfect polish since Lauren Conrad began sporting OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark on The Hills and I became a serious polish convert. Over the years, I have experimented with all ends of the color spectrum when it comes to polish, from light neutral hues to rich charcoal blacks but the one consistent theme that remains is my classic, polish style.

So, it is no surprise that my go to summer polish would involve a classic staple with a modern nail art twist. Recently, I took a classic French Manicure and revitalize in order to create a fresh, bold nail polish statement while staying within the boundaries of what works best for my lifestyle. By pairing a classic nude all over polish using “I Theodora” by OPI and topping it off with a thin line of silver sparkle at the tip, my nails have a little bit or edge while remaining timeless.

Products used: OPI Nail Lacquer in “I Theodora You” and “Which Is Witch”

summer nail art Tess

Tess Lopez
Toronto | Makeup By Tess

My go-to nail polish colour this summer is in the assortment shades of coral.

Shades in the orangey-pink range such as coral, apricot, and peach compliment beautifully with all skin colours … especially with tanned skin!

To jazz up my nails, I like to add a bit of nail art. My favourite this season has been nail art that helps give the illusion of elongated nails and fingers without actually having super long nails. My top favourites are the chevron nail and triangle. When pointed down towards the tip of your nails, it draws your eyes to the edge of your nails, which makes it look long and slender. I added a hint of pale pink as a lovely accent. Tip: Use scotch tape to create these patterns. It works wonders!

Products used: Maybelline New York Express Finish in “Peachy Petal (#60)” and Essie in “Ballet Slippers”

summer nail art Alison

Alison Leong
Vancouver | Alison*Elle

Although I won’t necessarily discount the use of a nail polish based on the season, there’s no denying that certain colours are more fun to wear when it’s nice out. My go-to summer polishes tend to be bright and punchy shades that can easily be incorporated into a bit of nail art. Geometric shapes like these triangles provide a graphic edge and work with all sorts of different colour combinations. I particularly love this mix of turquoise, coral, and white!

Products used: Lacc Nail Enamel in “1977,” Butter London Nail Lacquer in “Trout Pout,” Kiss Nail Art Paint in “White” and Avon Speed Dry Top Coat

summer nail art Marilou

Marilou Moles
Ottawa | Twenty York Street

One of the most notable things this season when it comes to style and beauty trends is the apparent explosion of nail arts! There seems to be a widening appreciation of the quick and easy style update a nail polish or nail art can do for you! 
Personally, this is probably the summer that I’ve change my nail polish the most as I’ve been experimenting not just with new colours but also with the latest trends and textures of new nail polishes. I love the soft pastel colours of Koku “Get Minted” and “Hello Lilac”—they provide the perfect base for many nail art creations like plaid, florals, polka dots and animal prints as seen here! Screams summer, yes?

Products used: Koku nail polish in “Get Minted” and “Hello Lilac,” Seche Vite, Martha Stewart Glitter