Oil-Slick Nails Are The Dramatic, Iridescent Manicure Trend Of The Moment

Oil-slick manicures are taking the internet by storm with their bold, shifting colors and unique shine. You can channel your inner trendsetter with the nail colors poised to rule 2023 with hundreds of oil-slick techniques and combine the new look with other manicure trends. Sometimes also called oil-spill nails, this look can be captured many different ways, each as captivating as the last. Getting on board with this fad while it's popular on social media platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, can give your fresh set its 15 minutes of fame, but what really matters is that you're going to fall in love with this trend the second you try it out.

Keep an eye out for your favorite celebrities rocking this cutting-edge look as well as your local nail salon's incoming polishes and foils so you can rock this look with confidence. With so many different ways to wear the oil-slick style, you may feel a little overwhelmed by the choices, but we've got your back. Here are 25 great oil-slick looks to show your nail technician so you can get a set as beautiful as you are. Can't pick just one? Try combining styles for an infinitely distinctive manicure that your friends are absolutely going to drool over.  

Heat signature slick

This lavender, pink, blue, and yellow look is the perfect imitation of heat-sensing lenses, making your nails look like they have their very own heat signature to follow. How hot is that? Keeping the oil-slick to one or two nails makes for the perfect accent, but a full set like this would certainly not disappoint, either. Want this manicure to pop a bit more? Try a sparkle-gel as a top coat to really bring out the glam in this style, or add white rings around each unique color to make those pigments pop. 

Oil-slick flames

If the heat signature nails weren't hot enough for you, these oil-slick flames will certainly do the trick. The way the oil-slick shifts colors just as real fire does is simply mesmerizing, and the clear gloss on top makes it all shine. Try this style in different colors to really capture that flame look, or try a contrasting base color to make the oil-slick pop. This style also works in reverse if you're not into the faux French-tip look; start the flames at your cuticles and have them fan down the nail instead. This especially works for almond-shaped nails. 

French-tip slick

If the flame look is too intense for you, try something more subtle, such as a classic French tip turned a bit bolder with an oil-slick polish. The shimmer top coat brings out the shifting colors in the French tip, but if that's not your thing, a clear coat can downplay the oil-slick and make it a little more surprising when it hits the light. This look works well in just about any color, so feel free to mix and match, or use the technique on an accent nail or two to make this style your own. 

Pearl slick

This pearl-slick look captures the oyster, ocean, and pearl all together in a gorgeous swirl of color. Look closely and find that a glitter polish is thrown into the mix to help the whole thing shine. For a more pearlescent look, tone down the colors or add more cream and pale pink. The oil-slick application will give your nails the chromatic shine that real pearls dazzle with, so it's the perfect way to capture your favorite ocean accessory. To glam it up a little, add 3D pearls to an accent nail or two to tie the set together. 

Wet stripe slick

These almond-shaped oil-slick nails each have stripes and dots of gloss over a matte base to give a wet appearance — perfect for that shimmery oil style. The ombré is a classic design you'd be hard-pressed not to love on sight. This subtle, otherworldly manicure is definitely one for the books, and it's perfect to pair with unique accessories, whether rings or bracelets or both. For more of a pop, try a colored base instead of a nude, or, for an edgier look, do a black base to really make those colors pop. 

Sparkle slick

These fall-themed sparkling oil-slick nails are hard to pin down as one color or the other. Are they green? Orange? Something in between? Whatever color they are, they're beautiful, and you certainly don't need to wait until autumn to try them out. Oil-slicks are perfectly complemented by heavy applications of sparkle, so don't be afraid to go all-out with the glam. These nails will wow you whenever you move your hand, as they change color depending on how you look at them, stunning you time and time again. 

Oil-slick clouds

Dreamy cloud nails are the ethereal manicure trend you need to try, and, with an oil-slick combined, they're utterly show-stopping. While this look applies the oil-slick on an accent nail and puts the cloud on a gray sparkle ombré, an oil-slick set with clouds mixed in would be jaw-dropping. Blurring the borders of your clouds will help tie them into that wet, flowing look that oil-slick nails showcase, and, while you're at it, feel free to play with a little bit of color, too. To really glam it up, add gems to emulate stars in your cloud-studded sky.

Cracked-glass slick

Applying black lines to an oil-slick look gives the image of beautifully cracked stained-glass windows. This look toes an edgier line in sharp contrast to the typical soft look that stained glass offers. If you're looking for bold without getting too complicated, this is perfect for you. Glam it up a bit with a few crystal appliques, or add a top coat of shiny clear gloss to make the look appear more glass-like. Or, to make this look less bold, try silver lines instead of black — or do gold to play more into the stained-glass window vibe. 

Accent oil slicks

If you don't want to do a full set of oil-slick nails, making them the accents to your manicure will tie them in with just about any other look. You probably wouldn't think that a white base and pastel stars would work with a dark oil-slick accent, but this manicure pulls it off flawlessly. You can pair an oil-slick accent nail or two with any number of contrasting nails, or try for something more matching, like a simple black polish or a scarab beetle green, which will pick up the shifting colors in the oil-slick nicely. 

Oil-slick droplets

If you thought the wet stripes of an oil-slick ombré were beautiful, try the entire nail and make wet droplets that trap twilight dewdrops in time. The 3D clear gloss truly brings out the shifting night-sky colors in the oil-slick for a look that's as ethereal as it is unique. Tone it down by applying it to one or two accent nails, or take it a step further by adding a shimmering gloss over the matte base. This look pairs perfectly with silver rings and bracelets, definitely something to try. You're likely to be wowed by the results.

Galaxy oil slick

We have plenty of out-of-this-world inspo to pull off galaxy nails, and these oil-slick nails really change it up with a combination of ombré, sparkle, and accent nails. The sparkle of the galaxy look is perfectly complemented by the natural shimmer of an oil spill for an altogether style that simply shines. To emulate the night sky a bit more, use white gel to draw in small stars, or try 3D ones. To mix it up, nix the black night sky for a colored one and watch how it brings out hidden hues in your oil-slick nails. 

Chameleon slick

We've got plenty of reptile-inspired oil-slick nails, so don't worry, because there's more to come. Madagascar's Be Nosy panther chameleon is described as having hints of vibrant blues, purples, and greens, making the nails the perfect imitation of the famed reptile. These chameleon nails are certainly as much of a show-stopper as their namesake with shimmering hints of green, gold, and purple. For an even more reptilian look, try a spiral design like that of a coiled chameleon tail or even a hint of scales. 

Swirling slick

To really imitate the oil look, a swirl of black naturally models the movement of an oil slick, complete with all the colors captured in the light refracting off of it. This swirl has an almost science-fiction feeling to it with the aura of mystery and beauty the look supplies. The sparkles mixed in is a perfect touch to catch the light, as well as the completely different pattern each swirl creates. To tone this look down a little, try taking the sparkle top-coat out. To glam it up, try a silver or gold swirl instead of black. 

Strawberry milk slicks

Strawberry milk nails are the pastel pink manicure trend that's perfect for spring, and adding the shimmer of an oil slick to the look only makes it that much more desirable. The pink base coat brings out the shimmer of an oil-slick, highlighting blues, golds, and purples. To elevate this look, try some gold or silver flakes or a few gems. If that's too much, this look also pairs perfectly with a white French tip or a mix of cream colors. Best of all, it matches perfectly with both gold and silver jewelry, making this look super versatile.

Oil dip

If you want a fresh take on the classic French tip, try an oil-slick dip. Having the French tip drip upwards on an accent nail is the perfect way to change it up and call attention to the shifting colors on each of your nails. This look is great for those who are into asymmetrical styles, as you can change up how the dip looks on each hand. A nude base really brings out the colors in an oil-slick manicure, but for a more goth-inspired look, try a darker base. 

Stars and slicks

To add some extra wow factor to your oil-slick nails, try stars. This mixes up the wet droplet look with a collection of stars and glitter preserved in a clear acrylic nail, tying in perfectly with the small gems on the ring finger. This combination style heavily highlights the blue tones in each nail while subtly bringing out the green hues in the oil-slick. If this look is a little much, take out the drip effect and the gems; a matte oil-slick accent nail is a treat in itself and will stun all on its own. 

Snake oil

As promised, here's more of that reptilian theme no one can get enough of. This simple emerald oil-slick look is completely transformed by the application of a white-stenciled snake. Bringing scales to mind when looking at the shifting oil-slick colors, this look guarantees that anyone who spies it will turn green with envy. For an even more snake-like look, try an almond-shaped nail to invoke a sense of fangs. To soften the style, try an oval-shaped nail. 

Oil-slick drip

An oil-slick drip is a look with edge, craft, and fun. The nearly 3D application of the polish here makes your nails look wet and alive, while the nude base keeps them from being overwhelmingly dark. Much like with the oil-slick flame look, changing up the colors here can completely change the way this manicure looks, so don't be afraid to experiment. An ombré base can also give this set an even greater set of movement, depending on how you apply it.

Dragon's egg oil-slick

Applying an egg-shell-like pattern to an oil-slick nail brings dragon eggs to mind. Paired with the claw-like shape of the nail and the gems on the accent nail — calling to mind a dragon's hoard — this look is for those who want to bring a little bit of dark fantasy into their lives. This look pairs perfectly with maximalist fashion — think chunky rings and bracelets, gem-studded jewelry, and any mix of leather. To reign it in a little, try a softer curve at the end of your nail, such as an almond-shape.  

Dragon's claw oil-slick

If the dragon's egg look isn't exactly what you had in mind for your dark fantasy-inspired nails, these dragon claws may do just the trick. The 3D matte black is an edgy look you'll want to try out, but if the full set is a little too much for you, take some inspiration from the dragon's egg style and try a bejeweled accent nail. This works great with a green oil-slick base, but if you want to lean a little heavier into goth style, a black oil-slick base will do just the trick. 

Oil and gold

For a more forward take on a French tip, try this asymmetrical gold tip with an oil-slick accent nail. The gold goes perfectly with both the black base and the shifting colors of the oil-slick tip. This look is great if you don't go anywhere without your gold rings and bracelets, but if you're more into silver jewelry, a silver tip can sub out the gold without detracting from this manicure in the slightest. Try subbing out the black base with a nude for a more chic look, or add white gels to incorporate your favorite designs. 

Foil-chip oil-slick

Finding whimsy in everyday life can sometimes be difficult. Do you remember being at the carwash as a kid and watching the oily, soapy water float by on the asphalt and feeling a sense of magic? Bring that to your adult life with these foil-chip oil-slick nails, which perfectly encapsulate that enchanting childhood moment with elegance and charm. The matte nude base brings out the rainbow shine of the oil-slick foil, while the chipped look gives the impression you're peeling back the everyday veneer of the real world to reveal the fantasy of a dream lingering just beneath.

Reptile slick

With snakes, chameleons, and dragon nails discussed, there's just one more reptilian look to complete the set. These reptile-inspired oil-slick nails invoke a sense of scales and tales with the colors to match. The translucent accent nails keep this look from being overwhelmingly dark, while the added white sparkles give a sense of charm. You can replace the black tail design with a more specific iteration of your favorite reptile or try for the scaly look of a sea creature if that catches your fancy. Either way, this manicure is a show-stopper that's sure to turn heads. 

Aurora oil-slick

In a still photo, these aurora borealis oil-slick nails look almost too pretty to be real. However, with movement, their true charm comes out. When these nails aren't hitting the light, those chips of iridescent color look completely clear. As soon as any sort of light hits them, however, they light up in brilliant color. This manicure really is a fairytale brought to life, and it pairs perfectly with any accessory. While these nails may fly under the radar at first glance, they're sure to elicit gasps as soon as they're in motion.  

Oil-slick shift

A lot of oil-slick nails, despite having many colors shifting within, feel a little dark. For a brighter look, try multi-colored oil-slicks. Combining different oil-slick colors throughout one set can really bring the jewel tones to life, and the shiny chrome finish makes as much of a statement as a hand decked out with multiple jeweled rings. To pack more punch, forgo the tip dip and try the whole nail. If the chrome finish is too industrial for you, you can temper it by a clear gloss coat or a bit of sparkle.