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What is the manicure where every nail is different color?

A manicure where each nail is painted a different color is known as a rainbow manicure or a skittles manicure. This fun and creative nail art style has become increasingly popular in recent years, allowing for self-expression through the endless color combinations possible.

Origins of the Rainbow Manicure

The rainbow manicure trend is believed to have emerged in the early 2010s, around the same time as the rise of nail art culture. While the exact origin is unclear, many credit beauty blogger Michelle Phan for helping popularize the look through tutorial videos on her YouTube channel. The whimsical nature of painting each nail a different hue resonated with viewers looking to experiment with nail art.

Some speculate the style was inspired by the rainbow pride flag in the LGBTQ community. The use of multiple bright colors side-by-side reflects inclusivity and self-expression. However, the rainbow manicure has broadly appealed to nail art lovers of all backgrounds thanks to its playful and vibrant aesthetic.

How to Do a Rainbow Manicure

Achieving the rainbow manicure look is relatively simple with some planning and right supplies. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Start with clean, bare nails. Remove old polish and use a nail prep solution to cleanse nails.
  2. Select 5-10 nail polish colors. Aim for a spectrum of bright hues like red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. Include neutrals like white, black or nude to accent if desired.
  3. Paint each nail with a different polish color. Work in rainbow order or randomly mix up shades. Allow each coat to dry before moving to the next nail.
  4. Finish with a top coat for shine and protection. This seals in the design.
  5. Consider adding nail art embellishments like glitter, charms or stickers to accent accent certain nails.

The technique is simple enough for beginners to nail art to achieve. Yet there are also many ways to customize a rainbow manicure through color and accent choices to make it unique.

Popular Color Combinations and Styles

Part of the fun of the rainbow manicure is testing out new color combinations. Here are some popular options:

  • Full rainbow: All colors of the rainbow starting with red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.
  • Rainbow with neutrals: Include nails painted in white, black or nude between bright colors.
  • Pastel rainbow: Use light, soft shades like mint, lavender, peach and sky blue.
  • Neon rainbow: Choose super bright, electric neon polishes in vibrant hues.
  • Metallic rainbow: Try metallics like rose gold, copper and silver for a glam twist.
  • Monochrome rainbow: Different tints and tones within one color family like blue.

The rainbow manicure also pairs well with various nail shapes and embellishments:

  • Long, coffin or square nails show off each color boldly.
  • Add rhinestones, glitter or charms to accent certain nails.
  • Use striping tape between colors to create blocks of color.
  • Paint on polka dots, flowers or other nail art with a striper brush.
  • Apply a holographic top coat for extra dimension.

Let creativity run wild when planning a rainbow manicure design. Change up the colors and patterns each time for new stylish looks.

Nail Care Tips

When rocking a rainbow manicure, it’s important to take extra care of your nails:

  • Always use a base coat before polish to protect nails.
  • Seal in the design with a quality top coat for shine and longevity.
  • Consider wearing gloves for cleaning or hand creams to moisturize.
  • File off any chips carefully to avoid removing other polish colors.
  • Use nail polish remover or acetone to take off rainbow manicures gently.
  • Allow nails to breathe by going polish-free once a week if possible.

Proper nail care allows the rainbow colors to really pop and last longer. Change up the design whenever it begins to grow out or chip.

Do’s and Don’ts

To get the most eye-catching rainbow manicure, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind:

Do Don’t
– Use creme polishes for bold, true hues – Apply colors too sheer or streaky
– Paint your dominant hand second for your less dominant hand – Forget to cap the tips when polishing
– Mix up warm and cool shades – Use colors that are too matchy or muddy
– Embellish accent nails – Overcrowd every nail with art

Planning your color palette and nail art placement will help you nail the perfect rainbow manicure.

Celebrity Inspiration

Many celebrities have rocked stylish rainbow manicures on the red carpet and social media. Some top examples include:

  • Kate Hudson
  • Dua Lipa
  • Vanessa Hudgens
  • Cara Delevigne
  • Kylie Jenner
  • Gwen Stefani
  • La La Anthony
  • Madelaine Petsch
  • Lizzo

Their fun nail art inspires fans to recreate the multicolored look. Even major fashion brands like Christian Louboutin have embraced the rainbow manicure in ad campaigns and runway shows.

Adding Rainbow Nails to Your Wardrobe

The rainbow manicure serves as a versatile nail art look that can be tailored to any occasion or season. Here are ways to incorporate it into your wardrobe:

  • Casual everyday wear: A rainbow mani livens up jeans and tee or leggings. Try a pastel or neon look.
  • Glam date night look: Pair with little black dress for a pop of color. Use metallics or jewel tones.
  • Fun vacation style: Bright tropical colors like fuchsia, lime and turquoise fit a beach vacation vibe.
  • Festival outfit: Rainbow nails complement music festival looks. Go for a psychedelic ’60s color palette.
  • Holiday gathering: Mix holiday hues like red, green and gold for seasonal flair.

The rainbow manicure is versatile for any occasion or outfit. It always makes a fun statement.


The rainbow manicure, where each nail is a different color, provides endless opportunities for creativity and self-expression. While application is simple, planning the perfect color combinations and nail shapes takes it to the next stylish level. With proper nail care, the look can last over a week to show off. Celebrities and nail art lovers alike will continue rocking this fun, inclusive and vibrant manicure style.