More fabulous and less creepy, despite the name, coffin nails are the epitome of hot girl summer. Also known as ballerina nails, coffin nails are long and feminine with the perfect amount of edge radiating true boss vibes.
If your client’s nail dreams are to have long coffin nails, with the right tools, you can surely make that happen. Add a long, tapered canvas with plenty of space to decorate, and you’ll likely have a good time polishing, airbrushing, or glamming them out, too. Let’s fill you in on all the creative nail designs you need. From minimalism to maximalist nails, your clients will surely love these options.
For the Minimalists
Sometimes less is more. If your client isn’t the flashy type and is looking for a simple, dainty nail look that will match her everyday style, suggest some of the following ideas.
Nudes, neutral tones, black, and white are minimalist and simple yet add a chic and effortless statement to your look. Any color tone found in nature is a great color for the client who loves a capsule wardrobe and sticks to a neutral color palette in her day-to-day style. You can also add a pop of color and keep it minimalist by choosing the right finish.
Matte Finish: Matte is super modern and on-trend lately with this nail shape. A bold red or burgundy complete with a mattifying top coat makes bold colors appear a little more subtle and low key while still being high key gorgeous. Valentino Beauty Pure’s Non Wipe Matte Top Coat is UV/LED light-activated and keeps nails matte through oil applications, lotioning, and everything in between.
Gloss Finish: High sheen is totally in style too—and looks best on lighter colors like white, baby pink, ombre, French, or transparent. Although a gloss finish is recommended for lighter colors, if your client really wants to show stop in a high gloss bold red, don’t you stop her.
A negative space nail look or “transparent” nail design is when you leave a portion of the nail untouched. It creates a chic, abstract look that is so 2021. Use some tape to cover the nail you want to remain unpolished, peel the tape off when it’s dried and set, and you’ve just turned into a natural Picasso.
Negative space and transparent styles are perfect to recommend to nail clients who aren’t keen on regular upkeep. With a transparent gloss, you cant see regrowth visibly, so they can get away with keeping the manicure longer before coming in for a fill.
Bold, Abstract Swirls: This look is Pinterest-trending, making a grand entrance with swirls of shades of green, shades of blues, and even browns. To get this look, you’ll need a good quality brush for painting on the swirls. Focus on only a portion of the nail and swirl the color on in an S shape in descending colors from darker to lighter shades. Leave the rest of the nail unpolished and finish with a high gloss top coat.
This is an opportunity to use some creative liberties here. All nails do not have to be uniform—in fact, they shouldn’t be for a more abstract effect. Just use your artistic eye when deciding where to place the swirl or squiggle on each nail.
Geometric / Graphic Patterns: Another great design concept for negative space nail looks are working with angles like triangles and stripes. Polka dots, daisies, hearts, and flowers look super cute in this style too.
Bright colors with a muted tone like sage, melon, dusty lavender, and a buttery yellow are all the rage this season for their chill, calming, happy-go-lucky vibes. They are subdued yet trendy and sophisticated—still allowing a gorgeous pop of color while not being too flashy.
Master this timeless nail design on coffin nails by using a light pink or translucent pink as the base and a pure white for the tips. You’ll want to extend the white line a little further down the base of the nail as you normally would for a shorter nail French mani to keep a good balance between the pink and the white on a longer extended coffin nail.
Slanted French or V-shaped: a modern twist on the classic French design is reimagining the basic curve and instead opting for a slant or V-shaped tip.
Rainbow French: If you’re going all out with a new angle, you could even suggest using a different color like a bold yellow or even black. Another new trend is polychromatic French.
Who remembers the trend when everyone wanted a glitter accent nail on their ring finger? We do. Well, now that’s kind of out and now enters: Shades of Cool. This style is finding a complementary color palette with tones that look awesome side by side. Each finger is a different color, but the final product is super aesthetically pleasing and satisfying.
Pastels: A chic summer look boasting all the colors of the rainbow in a toned-down, subdued look—a nail to match every bikini in your client’s closet.
Shades of Green: Perhaps inspired by all the avocado toast influencers are photographing, green is definitely a buzzing color lately. From sage to forest green to everything in between, this is a pretty chill statement.
Neutrals: A step up in edge from a simple one-tone neutral color like beige or tan, polychromatic neutrals are an interesting twist and add depth and a little excitement to any coffin-shaped manicure.
For the Maximalists
Acrylic coffin nails have some stellar and super fun design trends that make a maximum impact. With a big canvas, you’ll be able to really get creative on this nail shape. These are some show-stopping styles:
The 60s and 70s are making a comeback in fashion, but it’s not stopping there—the half-moon with two bold color options is just a half circle at the cuticle. Shimmery metallics, silvers, and iridescent colors fall into this category—swirls covering the whole nail with every color in the rainbow. Go big and bold to tap into this trend.
Nail painting takes on a whole new meaning with these nail designs, and you may want to think about booking a client for some extra time in the chair. These tedious nail designs definitely take some concentration and dedication, but the results are so satisfying.
Realistic Flowers: Also called “nail tattoos,” hyper-realistic stickers look like you cut a rose off its bush and shrunk it to miniature size. The realistic flower style looks best on a light-colored nail and with a high gloss finish.
Smiley Faces: Nude or transparent nail bases make the yellow happy face pop. Your client will be spreading good vibes wherever she goes.
Checkerboard: Opt for opposite, complementary colors for this trend, which looks good on the whole nail, the tip of the nail, or one of the nails if you’re doing a free-for-all, random style. Think: black and white, dark purple and yellow, or dark blue and metallic silver.
Free-for-all: The random, free-for-all style is when you and your client put your heads together to pull out the most outlandish combinations that, when they come together, look actually pretty cool. It is a mashup of swirls, dots, checkerboards, smiley faces, butterflies—everything weird (good weird).
Three-dimensional nail accents take manicures to a whole new level—literally. Made popular by rap artist Cardi B, all you need is some good strong nail glue to accomplish these 3-D styles.
Butterflies: Pretty fluttery butterfly wings can be painted on, stickered on, or glued on. You have the option of doing a whole butterfly body and wings or a wing on two adjacent nails that, when held together, connect the two sides of the butterfly.
Bejeweled: Faux pearls, Swarovski crystals, gems, and diamonds all heighten any nail look from pretty to all-out-glamorous.
Chain-links: Making an edgy appearance is the chain. We’re seeing this accessory being glued to the border of the nail, making its way around the entire nail. For an added pop, you could try drilling a hole through two juxtaposed nails and linking them together.
Hoops: Kind of like earrings for your acrylics, this is a new trend nail artists are playing with by drilling a hole through the nail and weaving the hoop ring in—literally icing out the nail. It’s pretty cool glamming out the nail with no adhesive necessary.
Acrylic nails in the coffin shape are easily one of our favorites to design, from a simple polish with a high sheen to bejeweling them with crystals and butterflies. Keep in mind that designs are the cherry on top, and how good the nail looks is built one step at a time, starting with the base foundation. So once you’ve got the perfect, uniform acrylic coffin shape, then you can dive in and jazz it up.