How to Do Swirl Nail Designs at HomeFebruary 15, 2023
How to Do Swirl Nail Designs
Step 1: Prep Your Nails
Be sure to clean your hands of any dirt, dust or residue so that you’re starting off with a clean canvas. Have your inspo photo ready to reference while you’re working.
Start off strong by prepping your nails with a cuticle oil. We love the easy-to-use rollerball format of the Essie On a Roll Apricot Cuticle Oil — the tube looks like a lip gloss, but the formula inside nourishes and hydrates your cuticles. Make sure to let the oil fully absorb before applying your base coat and nail polish — otherwise it could weaken the adhesion of the polish.
Once the oil has settled in, it’s time to apply a base coat to your nails. One of our favorite base coat formulas is the Essie Here to Stay Base Coat, which helps prevent polish from staining your nails and extends the wear of your manicure.
Step 2: Choose Your Shades
When choosing nail polish colors, Pham recommends choosing three or more shades, including complementary or monochromatic shades and a neutral. “It’s best that your base color is a neutral one,” says Pham. “The swirls will pop more.” The neutral nail polish shade you choose will vary based on your personal preferences and your skin tone, but if you’re looking for a good standby, try Essie Hi Maintenance, a translucent baby pink shade that will give your nails a subtle rosy shine.
Feeling glam? Feel free to add a glitter polish to the mix, like Essie A Cut Above, for extra bling.
Step 3: Apply Your Polish
Start by applying your neutrals shade to your entire nail (or whichever shade you choose as the base of your designs). You can apply one or two coats of your starter shade, depending on how opaque you want it to be.
Once your base shade is fully dry and not tacky, it is finally time to get started on the swirl nail art. You’ll want to use a thin striping brush to paint on the swirls in long, curved strokes. This pack from Amazon costs only $5 and contains three brushes in varying sizes so you can vary the widths of your swirls.
Pham says to use your lightest color first. “I use this trick daily for nail art,” she says. “If you make a mistake using your light shade, you can go over it and cover it up with a darker color.”
Step 4: Add a Top Coat
Once you finish your swirl nail art, wait at least 30 minutes to make sure they are completely dry — you don’t want to smudge all of your hard work.
Lock in your swirls by applying two layers of a top coat, like Essie Good to Go! Fastest Drying Top Coat, for a shiny, gel-like finish. Pham says that she keeps a tiny bristle brush on hand to dip into acetone to clean up any mess-ups around the cuticle area. You can clean off one of the striping brushes you used for the designs and dip it in acetone for a quick and easy clean-up.
Our Favorite Swirl Nail Designs
Need some inspo for your swirl nails? Check out 25 of our favorite swirly manicures from Instagram, below.
Turquoise Swirl Nails
Turquoise, mint green and white swirl nails look spring-ready against a neutral pink polish.
White Swirl NailsAnyone can get in on the swirl nails trend, even those who love a minimalist manicure. Try simple white swirls (Essie Blanc is our go-to white polish) on top of a baby pink base for a soft and subtle spin on the trend.
Multicolored Swirl Nails
These multicolored and glittery swirls are like a party on your nails. They’re a great pick if you’re looking for your next birthday manicure.
Neon Swirl Nails
Combine eye-catching neon hues, a masterful blended ombre and funky swirls into one colorful manicure.
Accent Swirl Nails
Add some flair to regular manicure by painting a few accent nails with a swirl design. Here, the nail artist gave her client a BIAB manicure, which is a great way to grow out and strengthen your natural nails.
Pink and Red Swirl Nails
These pink and red swirl nails have our heart all year round. We love the updated take they give on the French tip.
Neutral Swirl Nails
These nails epitomize quiet luxury. The neutral colors and subtle stripe of glitter enhance the soft glam vibes.
Complementary Swirl Nails
Blue and orange are complementary colors, which makes them a great pairing for the swirl nail art trend. Paint them on a sheer nude base to let the hues stand out. For more complementary color pairings, just take a look at a color wheel — the colors across from each other are complementary.
Chocolate Brown Swirl Nails
Rich brown and tan hues collide to create a neutral manicure that’s anything but basic. We’re bookmarking this swirly set as our fall nail inspo.
Purple Swirl Nails
Contrasting shades of purple make for a sweet and dreamy swirl manicure. We love the way design meets in a heart on the ring and middle fingers.
Pastel Swirl Nails
A mix of pale pastel hues and gold glitter is an adorable play on swirl nails.