Nailed It
a woman with swirl nails, the new doughnut nails of summer 2022

Swirl Nails Are The New Doughnut Nails, According To TikTok

It's time to swap glazing for swirling.

Jana Barsova / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

Just when you thought summer nail art was ending on a shiny, glazed note, the powers that be within the TikTok algorithm are bringing a new kind of nail art front and center: swirl nails. This retro-inspired mani is perfect for late summer. Swirl nails look amazing in summer shades of neon and bright pastels, but this abstract design also pops in deep shades and neutrals, so you can keep the vibe going into fall and even winter. While this particular nail art trend is still gaining traction, I’m calling it: swirl nails are the new doughnut nails and you cannot convince me otherwise.

On TikTok, the swirl nails hashtag has over 30 million views and that number keeps rising every time I open the app. The hashtag is seeing steady growth on Instagram as well, but it’s not just these two platforms that are filling up with swirl nail art inspo. According to data analyzed by U.K. beauty retailer JustMyLook, searches for “swirl nails” are up 86% on Pinterest and you know that when people start pinning, they are seriously committing to an aesthetic.

These whimsical, swirling designs don’t need a ton of space to shine, which means that swirl nails are an excellent choice if you, like me, are a bit of a nail biter. While the most popular nail videos and photos across all social media platforms skew toward gel polish and square tip or long coffin shapes, there’s plenty of inspo out there for short-nailed folks too. Swirl nails just might be the most equal-opportunity nail trend of the year. They work on all nail shapes and sizes, and when I tell you the colorways are endless, I mean they are *truly* endless.

What Are Swirl Nails?

Simply put, swirl nails are a style of nail art that features a series of swooping, curving lines in one or more contrasting shades of polish. Usually, this type of nail art includes some kind of negative or, at the very least, neutral space so that the retro, '70s-inspired vibes of the swirls themselves really stand out.

In a recent Instagram post, Sonia Domingues, a beauty influencer and founder of Signet Beauty, shows how much a little blank space can make swirl nails pop, even in soft, candy colors. Her swirl nails are the quintessential summer edition of this trend from the sherbet color scheme of aqua, pink, orange, and white, to the medium coffin length. Believe it or not, her version is pretty tame compared to how big and bold the look can get.

Nail art influencer Sarah, who goes by @heluviee on TikTok and Instagram, has been doing swirl nails all summer on her long, almond-shaped nails. A recent TikTok post shows her accenting a few of her nails with swirling designs, but it’s her peach and aqua swirl nail tutorial from early July that has raked in over four million views.

Chaun Legend, a celebrity nail artist and the mind behind many of the Kardashian-Jenners’ best manicures, shared a post on Instagram on July 28 that shows how swirl nails can also be used within other nail art designs such as french tips. The bright neon tips he did for Lala Anthony are truly something to behold.

While many swirl nail designs harken back to the ‘70s, Legend’s interpretation has a more ‘90s, airbrushed vibe. Since the ‘90s are the next decade about to make a major style comeback, the airbrushed effect is super trendy.

How To DIY Swirl Nails At Home

There’s an art to creating swirl nails that I’ve only seen done with the finest of nail art brushes. I’ve watched a ton of videos and creating your own swirl nails from scratch will take a steady, practiced hand. If you, like me, drink too much coffee to paint smooth, perfect tiny lines on your nails, don’t worry. There are plenty of affordable press-on options, including the ones below:

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