Nail Art in 2022 Is All About Joyful Escapism (Because We Could All Use a Break)

It used to be that nails were an afterthought or forgotten about altogether. Backstage at fashion shows, on red carpets or in high school homerooms, talk mostly centered around your clothes or your hair. Sure, you might notice someone’s makeup, but almost never their nails.

This has changed drastically over the past decade, as social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have become a virtual portfolio for nail artists to share their creative designs from around the world. Since then, our idea of nail art has expanded far beyond a glitter accent nail or one type of white-tipped French manicure. Now, we have every type of French mani you could ever think of, 3-D designs and nail jewelry (think: small hoops and charms) to entertain.

By 2020, nail art was already deeply embedded into mainstream culture, but when the pandemic began, it became even more relevant for many people. Painting your nails at home became a way to unwind, and DIY designs (via press ons and nail stickers) offered a small, fingertip-sized window of escape from the difficulties of daily life.

As such, the recent wave of nail art we’re seeing is light, bright and fun. It’s less centered around one specific trend and more about an overarching mood: joyful. We’ll show you what we mean ahead.

1. Geometric Designs

“With many of us working from home and being confined to our daily routines, nail art and bright manicures can bring us joy and spontaneity,” says Canishiea J. Sams, a nail artist based in Sacramento, California. “Geometric shapes in different color palettes can bring some much needed pizzazz to the mundane.”

Get the look: ManiMe Stick On Gels in “Mother Earth” ($25)

2. Neon Brights

Anyone else getting Saved by the Bell vibes from these neon nails? The delightfully vibrant colors and ‘80s-inspired designs give off a little jolt of energy every time you look down at your hands.

Get the look: Scratch Nail Wraps Kit in “Party Time” ($10)

3. Bold Reds And Pinks

“A clean, bold-colored manicure in hot pink or red brings a sense of fun and vibrancy back to people’s lives,” shares Mia Rubie, founder of Sparkly SF Salon. “We’ve been living through some tough times and nail art has become a highlight for many of my clients. Looking down at the shiny, sparkly little works of art on their fingertips is a reminder of who they are: awesome people carrying on with life, enjoying the little luxuries—even on the hard days.”

Get the look: Olive and June Berry Smoothie Set ($48)

4. Mellow Blues

Easily one of the most soothing shades to look at, a muted blue (or this year’s “Very-Peri,” a mood-boosting periwinkle) is a fitting hue to swipe for the times. Pair it with a playful design like this checkerboard print and you’ve got an eye-catching combo.

Get the look: Chillhouse Checked Out Chill Tips Press-On Nails ($16)

5. Confetti Confections

In 2022, another nail artist told us she hopes to see more confetti style glitter because it’s festive, fun and it goes with any theme or season. She adds that the sparkly style brings happiness to everyone, to which we say, cue the confetti. Let it rain!

Get the look: Scratch Terrazzo Nail Wraps ($10)

 5 Ways to Wear Nail Polish in 2021 (And 2 Looks Best Left in Pre-Pandemic Times)

Jenny Jin

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...
read full bio

Why You Should Trust Us

PureWow's editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series (where we rank items on a 100-point scale) to our painstakingly curated lists of fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family picks, you can trust that our recommendations have been thoroughly vetted for function, aesthetics and innovation. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.