Coral Nails Are The Understated Pink Your Next Manicure Needs

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A little pink, a little orange, and very vibrant, coral is a gorgeous manicure color. There's a variety of coral shades, ranging from peachy oranges to deeper pink-reds, but all share a similar pinky-orange undertone. Bright coral nail polish is eye-catching and can really make your nails pop, but there are ways to tone down the color as well. Minimalist nail designs and simpler manicures can make the color look more understated and elegant. A plain coral manicure is vivid but classy, but if you want your manicure to be even more understated, work with negative space and opt for designs that mix coral with more subdued colors, using the shade as a highlight rather than the main attraction.

Of course, it's also easy to amp up the color by adding playful nail art and bold designs. Coral hues are lovely for spring and summer, especially in floral designs. They also pair well with other colors like hot pink, baby blue, and teal to create a show-stopping manicure any time of year. Draw inspiration for your next coral manicure with these stunning looks.

Coral to blush

Can't decide on one coral shade? Choose two — one pinkier coral and one that's more orange. The two colors look lovely together, so blend them on each nail for an understated gradient finish. Best of all, it's possible to achieve this kind of manicure using eyeshadow (which gives it its seamlessly blended look). This video shows how: Start with a base coat, pack on eyeshadow with a makeup brush, and then follow up with a topcoat.

Minimalist coral nail design

If painting all your digits coral feels like a tad too much, pick and choose just a couple of nails to paint this bright color. For the remaining nails, opt for a more minimalist design. French tips are a classic that look extra summer-y in a coral color. Alternatively, you can create a design that leaves a lot of negative space by painting two opposing shapes on either side of your nail. Or mix the two with some French tips and some more creative details.

Coral tips with tropical flowers

Coral shades are so tropical — the color feels like a hue you'd see on an idyllic island. Hibiscus flowers also have that tropical vibe, so combine the two to create a lush manicure. You can draw the floral design on a fully coral base, which will make the look super bright. A more understated and elegant option is to add hibiscus details on a coral French manicure. The latter will also help the flowers stand out a little more too.

Abstract shapes

Want to try a new nail design but not sure where to start? Curvy abstract bubbles are a creative but tidy-looking idea, and it's one that you can even attempt by yourself! Taking advantage of lots of negative space, this is one way to use a coral nail color without making it overwhelmingly bright. Draw a slightly different design on each nail to capture a more abstract feel.

Coral chrome

Shiny and chic, chrome nails take glam to a whole new level. Any color can be used for this manicure, but it looks particularly cheerful in coral. You can create this look at home by using a coral base coat and then adding a layer of chrome nail powder, like the PrettyDiva Pearl Chrome Nail Powder, which will add an iridescent shimmer to the finish.

Coral swatches

Can't choose between coral colors? Mix them in a swatched nail look by drawing stripes of each shade down from the tip of your nail. You can mix them up at random or order them from darkest or lightest (or vice versa) to create a gradient look.

Gradient coral French tips

This nail look is another that incorporates various coral shades, creating a gradient from darkest to lightest. Since it just keeps the color on the French tips, the look is elegant and relatively subdued. But if someone looks at it in more detail, they can appreciate the handiwork that goes into this type of elevated manicure.

Quarter circle nails

A vivid orangey coral feels very playful — lean into this feeling with a lively design. Quarter or half-circle drawings are so simple but add a lot of interest to your nails. Fill them in to display more of the coral color, or leave it as an outline if you prefer a minimalist nail.

Coral with metallic details

Sometimes, a little metallic is all you need. Recreate this look on a soft coral base, with metallic French tips in a deep orange color at the end of each nail. This colorful French manicure is subtle and strong in one look, perfect for the person who's a little sweet and a little spicy at the same time.

Neon coral swirls

As such a bright color, orangey coral works well with retro-themed designs. Try coral swirls for a simple manicure with a nostalgic twist. You can paint them on a natural base for a more subdued look, or another bright color to really lean into the retro vibe. If you want to make the design look more contemporary, add some delicate white swirls as well.

Wavy details

If coral nails remind you of a tropical vacation, lean into the theme by adding some squiggly details reminiscent of lapping ocean waves. Painting a few nails completely coral really ups the brightness of this manicure. Paint the wavy details on a couple of natural nails to make them stand out (and make the overall look come across more natural too).

Jelly coral

Cute-enough-to-eat jelly nails have their own distinctive charm, and best of all, you can get the look with any color — including coral. The slightly translucent finish tones down the vividness of the coral shade a few notches, so it's a great choice for a more understated manicure. This is an ultra glossy take on a plain coral manicure that feels so lush.

Coral gradient

Who doesn't love a good gradient moment? You can create gradient looks across several nails or just on one. When using coral and pink, this creates a gorgeous diffused effect. Start with your darker color in the middle and fade out to a lighter color to get blushy nails. It also doesn't hurt to finish the look with a few sparkle decals or gems.

Coral and florals

Vibrant nail colors and floral patterns go together perfectly, so it's no surprise that a floral coral manicure is on this list. You can stick with a full coral theme, using one shade for all the flowers. Or choose a few similar shades that fit right in with the theme, such as yellow and pink.

Minimalist shapes

Simple, irregular shapes can instantly make your nails feel like a piece of abstract art. Choose a different design for each nail to make your manicure all the more interesting, mixing half circles, waves, swirls, and other shapes. This contemporary nail look stuns in bright coral, by adding a little more oomph than a neutral color would.

Peachy toned

Coral and peach are in the same pink and orange-toned family. If peach feels a bit too subdued, opt for coral (and vice versa: If coral feels like too much, peach is a good alternative). Coral nail polish can work for a few fruit-themed nail designs, including those incorporating peaches, oranges, and tangerines. It's a good choice if you want your nails to appear more pink-toned rather than very orange.

Pink string swirl

There's something about coral nail polish that really invites abstract nail designs — maybe because the color is a bit out-of-the-box itself compared to the usual reds and pinks that we use in our manicures. Another distinctive nail design is to start with a coral base and then draw a thin swirl that looks like a strand of string. This is another idea that looks playful but is also graceful.

Two-toned coral

Coral and coral color combinations look so happy and radiant. As we've mentioned, there are plenty of shades that fall under the "coral" umbrella, and any two of them can pair together nicely. Go for similar colors for a subtler gradient effect, or opt for coral shades on either side of the spectrum (one light and one dark, or one more orange and one more red) for a more dramatic design.

Coral and baby blue

There are plenty of other colors that look fabulous with coral — we tend to gravitate toward the brighter shades. A coral and baby blue combo feels like spring in a manicure, reminding us of flowers and robin's eggs. You can create a negative space design with this color scheme or use it to create alternating French tips if a full coral and blue manicure feels like a big commitment.

Plain coral manicure

Sometimes, there's no need to mess with the classics. As a color, coral really holds up on its own. If all these manicure ideas have your head spinning, why not just settle on a basic coral mani? It's fresh, youthful, and eye-catching in its own right — all the aspects that make a great manicure.