How To Create Gel Nail Designs for Summer Style

by Anastasia Julia

Gel nail polish gives your manicure a glossy finish that’s perfect for bringing out the fresh, playful vibes of spring and summer. It’s as practical as it is fun to wear, making bright colors even more vibrant and giving life to your typical neutrals.

Gel polish takes longer to apply, but it’s so worth it when you see the results. It’s much easier to get creative summertime colors and designs, whether you do your nails yourself or get a professional salon manicure.

Why Use Gel Nail Polish?

Gel nail polish “dries” fast because of the curing process and is durable enough to weather spring and summer activities like splashing in the pool, gardening, and spending hours at the beach. It doesn’t chip as easily as regular nail polish, and while many gel polishes say they last two weeks, they often last longer.

A gel finish catches everyone’s eye with its shiny coat, encouraging you to show off your manicure with designs you can be proud of!

How To Apply Gel Nail Polish

Getting your nails done with gel polish involves more than just breaking out your favorite color and painting it on. If you want a look that lasts, you’ve got to do the prep, apply the polishes, and keep up with your nail care. Follow these steps to do it yourself, or watch your nail tech go through the process:

  1. Prep Your Nails: Cut and file your nails for a neat, even canvas. Perform a Russian manicure or push back your cuticles using a pusher to create more space on the nail. Lastly, buff your nails so the gel has more grip to adhere to, and either dust your nails off with a brush or wipe with alcohol (do not wash your hands as you need a dehydrated base to start with).
  2. Apply a Dehydrator and a Primer: Start with a coat of dehydrator and let air-dry for a few seconds. Then, apply one coat of primer and let that dry for a few seconds.
  3. Apply Your Base Coat: Gel nails need a base coat to ensure the polish adheres well and lasts as long as possible. Once you’ve applied it, cure it under a UV light for 60-90 seconds (or more, depending on what the bottle indicates). Make sure you paint over the edge of your nail to resist chipping.
  4. Choose Your Color: Neon green gel nail polish brings out the spring nature vibes, like new leaves on the trees. For summer, go for coral peach nails or sheer pink nail polish for a more understated and attractive color. Thin coats are key for application. Two coats should be enough; just be sure to cure between each coat for at least 60 seconds (or whatever the bottle indicates). If you want to paint any designs, this is the time to do it. The best part about this step is that once you get something you like, you can cure it to lock it in. If it’s not turning out how you like, you can just wipe off the design and start over — without affecting whatever you’ve already cured!
  5. Don’t Forget the Top Coat: The top coat seals your polish to make your manicure last. Make sure you cover the entire nail to prevent chipping at the edges, and cure your nails one last time to complete your manicure.

The process doesn’t end when you finish applying your polish. To maintain your nails, apply cuticle oil daily, especially after you wash your hands or do any activities that might dry out your nail beds. This is a good general nail care practice, but it’s especially important for gel nail care as hydrated cuticles mean your manicure is less likely to chip and therefore last longer.

Spring and Summer Gel Nail Designs To Try

With the newness of spring comes fresh gel nail designs. From soft pastel palettes to bold and bright summer colors, you can get whatever colors you want with gel polishes. Stick to solid colors or use intricate patterns to express yourself! If you’re looking for inspiration, start with these ideas and use them as a reference when you go to the salon:

  • Glazed donut nails: This sheer pink gel polish offer a classy but trendy look. Their transparent gel coat makes them look clean and effortless, and you can wear them in a professional setting, to the beach, or brunch.
  • Neon purple: Neon purple nails are solid and consistent, creating a vibrant and lively look that’s perfect for summer nail designs. They also make a gorgeous base color for nail art in bright colors.
  • Coral pink nails: Coral nail polish make for a beautiful sunset combo you can rock at the next bonfire. Try painting alternate solid colors or make it more exciting with swirls!
  • Classic hearts: These black and white nails have a pop of gold, making the monochrome stand out. The metallic gold adds contrast and sophistication for a high-class finish.
  • Pastel pink, purple, and matte gel nails: These springtime nails sport the colors of blooming flowers. They give you a soft look before you transition to the daring vacation colors of summer.
  • Nude color nails: White and tan can be spring and summer colors, too, especially when you paint hearts, stars, and other designs on otherwise nude nails. This understated look works for any occasion, from meetings to parties.
  • Glossy pink and fuchsia: Create a gradient from soft blush pink to deep, rich purple. Then, add glittering silver stripes for a touch of glamour and excitement!
  • Floral yellow French tips: This look makes French tips even more stylish with a bright, sunny color you’ll want to carry through to the end of the summer. Add simple flower art for variation and use warm colors like pink, orange, and red to enhance the aesthetic.

Enjoy Your Gel Nails for Weeks

When you’re ready to change your look or give your nails a break, you can remove the polish in a couple of ways. One is to use a special gel nail polish remover with acetone. Use a cotton ball or pad soaked in the acetone and then wrap aluminum foil around it on each nail. After waiting for 10-15 minutes, you should be able to remove the polish with a scraper easily. The other way to remove gel polish is to use an electric nail drill to file off the color. Just be sure not to file too much! You don’t want to damage your natural nail bed.

Have fun experimenting and exploring new gel nail designs!