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What nails to get done for vacation?

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Summer is just around the corner, which means it’s almost time for that long-awaited beach vacation! As you daydream about relaxing on the sand with a cool drink in hand, don’t forget one of the most important parts of your pre-vacation prep: getting a fresh manicure and pedicure. With so many nail trends and options to choose from, deciding what nails to get before your vacation can be overwhelming. Read on for tips and inspiration on the best nails for summer vacations!

Consider Your Destination

Your vacation destination should play a big role in determining your pre-vacation mani. Are you headed to a tropical locale like Hawaii or Mexico? Fun, bright colors and patterns fit the laid-back, summery vibe. Heading on a cruise or road trip? You’ll want something long-lasting. Visiting a big city like New York or Paris? Go glam with dark colors and metallics that pair nicely with cocktail attire.

Think about what activities you’ll be doing as well. Will you be spending lots of time at the beach or pool? Skip intricate nail art in favor of simple, solid colors that won’t get damaged while swimming and playing beach games. Lots of sightseeing on your itinerary? Durable gel or acrylics are your best bet. Don’t forget to account for the climate too – dark nails will show chips less in hot, humid destinations.

Long-Lasting Polish and Nail Choices

No one wants to spend vacation getting manicures or worrying about chipped nails. With the right polish and nail choices, your mani can last the entire duration of your trip without needing any touch-ups.

Gel polish is universally touted as the longest-lasting nail polish formula. It lasts for 14-21 days without chipping when applied and cured properly. The application process takes a bit longer than regular polish, but is worth it for the extended wear time. Gel comes in any color and finish imaginable – creams, metallics, glitters, neons – you name it!

Dip powder is another excellent long-wear option. After applying an adhesive resin, nails are dipped into a colored powder which hardens when sealed by an activator. Lasting 2-3 weeks, dip powder keeps nails strong and protected. If you’re accident-prone, acrylics or acrylic overlays are virtually indestructible and won’t succumb to chips and cracks. They can last over a month with fill-ins.

Here’s a comparison of the longevity of popular nail choices:

Nail Type Average Wear Time
Regular Nail Polish 3-5 days
Gel Nail Polish 14-21 days
Dip Powder 2-3 weeks
Acrylics 3-4 weeks

On-Trend Summer Colors

When it comes to picking the perfect summer nail color, the options are endless! Here are some of 2023’s hottest colors for vacation manis:

Neons – Nothing says summer quite like bold, bright neons. Hot pink, lime green, tangerine – pick your favorite color or do one on each nail for a fun neon skittles mani.

Pastels – Soft pastels evoke images of dreamy sunsets and cotton candy skies. Mint, lavender, buttercream – keep your look subdued yet fun with these dusty brights.

Nudes – From bare beiges to rich caramels, nude nails are eternally chic for summer. Go for an all-over neutral or alternate with white for a “salt and pepper” look.

Metallics – Silver, gold and rose gold add luxe, glamorous touches to any mani. Shimmery chrome and foiled metals catch the sun beautifully.

Corals – No summer mani palette is complete without a perfect coral. Go bold with a fiery orange-red or soften it up with a peachy-pink.

Blues – Cool ocean blues and calming sky blues are ideal vacation colors. Try a bold cobalt or pale powder blue.

Nail Shape and Length

Just as important as your color is the shape and length you choose for your vacation nails. Certain nail shapes and lengths work better for summer activities than others. Here are some of the best options:

Short – Keep nails trimmed short if you’ll be swimming or playing sports on your vacation. Shorter nails are less likely to snag and break.

Squoval – The square oval (“squoval”) shape has a retro-chic look. Its rounded corners but straight sides are flattering on most fingers.

Almond – Universally flattering, the tapered tip of the classic almond shape elongates the fingers. It’s a safe choice for any vacation.

Coffin – For a modern, stylish look, go with coffin nails. The squared-off tip contrasts nicely with the other rounded edges.

Stiletto – Nothing says glamorous vacation like super sharp, pointed stiletto nails. They’re best suited for poolside lounging, not sports.

Here’s an overview of popular nail shapes and their advantages:

Nail Shape Description Best For
Short Nails trimmed close to the finger Sports, swimming, activity-filled vacations
Squoval Rounded corners with straight sides Versatile for most vacations
Almond Oval shape that tapers to a point Flattering for any vacation
Coffin Squared-off tips with rounded edges Fashionable look for most destinations
Stiletto Dramatic pointed tips Poolside lounging and glamour

Pedicure Preferences

Don’t neglect your toes when getting a pre-vacation mani/pedi! Even if your feet will be mostly hidden in sandals and flip flops, a fresh pedicure makes your whole vacation look pulled together. Pedicures also tend to last longer than manicures, so the investment is well worth it. Consider these pedi pointers:

– Color match your fingers and toes for a coordinated look from head to toe. Or, go bold with a bright or metallic pedi that complements your more subtle manicure.

– Get a pedicure first so toenail polish has maximum time to fully dry and cure before your trip. Nothing ruins a fresh pedi faster than smudges from ill-timed flip flop wear.

– Add extensions for elegant toe length and shape. Nail art like rhinestones or minimalist patterns are trendy and vacation-worthy too.

– Try gel polish on toes too for extended wear. Two to three weeks of chip-free pedicure perfection? Yes, please!

– Exfoliate heels and moisturize to repair winter’s damage for smooth, sandal-ready feet. Consider a paraffin treatment for ultra hydration.

– Schedule a pedicure within 2-3 days pre-trip for the best timing. You’ll avoid growth and possible chips/smudges during packing, but color will still be fresh upon arrival.

Cute Nail Art and Embellishments

What better place than vacation to have fun with playful nail art and embellishments? A few tasteful touches add personality and flair to your mani. Consider these creative options:

– Florals – Vibrant tropical blooms, dainty flower patterns and 3D acrylic flowers capture a summery vibe.

– Fruit slices – Bright watermelon, pineapple, lemon and cherry designs feel fresh and fun.

– Vacation phrases – “Bon Voyage”, “Aloha”, palm trees and postcard stamps bring your destination to your nails.

– Sand and ocean waves – Shells, sand textures, sea turtles and blue glittery waters say beach vacation.

– Rhinestones – For glitz and glam, add sparkling rhinestones, pearls or gems in accent nails or patterns.

– Polka dots – Playful multicolor dots keep your look retro and whimsical.

Keep embellishments minimal – one accent nail or focal point design will make your mani pop while staying classy and vacation-ready. Avoid heavy charms or 3D elements that can catch, snag and trap debris under your nails.

Conservative Colors for Sightseeing

Maybe your ideal vacation itinerary involves more sightseeing, religious locales, fine dining and cultural events – places where bright neons and loud nail art wouldn’t fit in. Tailor your mani to the mood and activities with these demure, vacation-appropriate options:

– Sheer pink – Almost bare but with a hint of color.

– French manicure – Classic white tips on nude base.

– Natural Buff – Matte, bare nail look.

– Lace details – Subtle transparent lace overlay for a hint of design.

– Greige – Sophisticated grey-beige.

– Muted metallics – Rose gold, platinum, brushed steel.

Keep embellishments sparse – a pearl accent or single initial are tasteful touches for a conservative mani. Steer clear of bright neons, large motifs and showy rhinestones. Remember – short, rounded shapes are sightseeing-friendly too.

Male Mani/Pedis

Vacation nail prep isn’t just for the ladies! More men than ever are incorporating manicures and pedicures into their pre-trip routines and rightfully so. Groomed nails look refined with any outfit and are better equipped to face the adventure-packed days, chlorinated pools and barefoot beach lounging that vacations bring.

For men seeking a subtle yet sophisticated vacation mani, consider these colors and styles:

– Buffed natural nails – Well-groomed with clear polish or buff for sheen.

– French tips – White tips on short, rounded neutrals are classic.

– Earth tones – Coffee, taupe, sand and khaki colors are masculine and low-key.

– Greys or gunmetals – Dark metallic grays add subtle flash.

– Ocean blues – Deep midnight or slate blues say relaxation.

Keep shapes rounded or squared – stay away from sharp stilettos or embellishments. A groomed pedicure completes the well-kept vacation look.

Prep and Recovery Tips

Getting vacation-ready nails is only half the battle – maintaining them is key! Follow these tips for extending your pre-vacation mani:

– Avoid heat styling tools that dry out nails after your manicure.

– Apply cuticle oil daily to hydrate and prevent cracks.

– Bring a quick-dry top coat and nail polish for chip fixes.

– Wear gloves for cleaning, dishes, hair dye, gardening, etc.

– Exercise caution with nails near saltwater, chlorine and chemicals.

– Use SPF on hands to prevent sun damage and fading.

– Get a gel overlay after vacation to refresh grown-out nails.

– Take biotin supplements to help repair and re-strengthen nails post-vacay.

With proper aftercare, you can stretch your beachy neon mani into a subtler French tip overlay for returning to the real world post-vacation. Extend your vacation glow as long as possible!


With a little bit of planning and inspiration, you can nail the perfect vacation manicure and pedicure to complement your destination, activities and outfits. Keep the vibe of your trip in mind, whether that’s tropical, glamorous, adventurous or understated. With the right colors, nail shape and embellishments (or lack thereof) chosen just for you, fresh nails will have you looking photo-ready for every magical vacation moment. Whichever nails you choose, remember – a mani/pedi is about feeling beautiful, creative and joyful.