Accent Nails: Let's Talk About Them

Sometimes you want to spice up your look with some fresh nail art, but don’t want to go over the top with a different look on each finger.

The accent nail is the perfect solution to this dilemma, and we are huge proponents of singling out one nail to add some extra fun and flash. 

Today we’re talking all about accent nails, filling you in on which designs work best for which finger and a few special scenarios to take advantage of this sweet style tip.

Accent Nail Basics

You’ve probably heard about them in mags or blogs and have an idea of what they are, but let’s clearly define what accent nails are so there’s no more confusion.

Accent nails, according to L’Oreal, are one of the most popular nail art trends, in which we showcase one of our nails by adding contrasting pattern, color, or design.

Five nails on each hand and one stands out from the rest with a unique flavor. We love the idea, and when pulled off correctly, it can look great.

Just one session on nail-art Instagram is enough to see that accent nails are very much in vogue, and there aren’t really any strict rules for what you can achieve.

As long as you maintain some degree of cohesion and conscious design, you can get away with some wild ideas when it comes to accent nails.

Plus, it’s a pretty low-risk fashion choice. You can always remove and re-polish an accent nail if you aren’t feeling the vibe, and there are plenty of ways to remix your style.

We are huge fans of the classic, singular accent nail, but there’s no reason why you can’t rock a fun accent on more than one nail at a time.

For example, alternate every other nail for a balanced, patterned look, or only put accents on your pinky and thumb to frame the three fingers in the middle.

Some people prefer to showcase the nail on their ring finger to show off their engagement ring or wedding band, or lack thereof!

We also love the two-thirds split look, which has three similarly-colored nails contrasting the other two. This works great if you have some small stickers or gems to add more flash.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the whole point of accent nails is to put your own sass and style on full display, and show the world that you do things your own way!

Classic Accents

While you can use accent nails to broadcast your originality, everyone needs a bit of inspiration now and then.

Here are a few of the classic accent nail ideas that have been applauded time and time again, with a couple of trendy new ideas thrown into the mix:

  • Classic color schemes with normal nail polish are a great place to start for anyone getting into accent nails. You can begin by using slightly different shades of the same color to show off a particular nail, and get bolder as you develop your style.
  • Basic patterns like tiny polka dots, simple stripes, and subtle shapes can make a statement without going overboard. If you’re in a professional setting, this is the sweet spot, since these styles are not overly loud and crazy.
  • Florals and stars are a mainstay in the accent nail community, and they never go out of style. Little daisies, roses, and sparkly stars are some of the most-liked patterns on social media, and for good reason. They can be worn in basically every situation, and aren’t going to ruffle any feathers in the workplace.
  • Animal-inspired accents are perfect for when you want to let your wild side roam free! Leopard prints, tiger stripes, and peacock feathers can inspire some very cool accent nail designs, and if you have an artistic streak you can really make some magic happen.
  • Pastels and watercolors are a gentle and subtle way to express yourself with accent nails that are very easy on the eyes. These styles are ideal for springtime when everything brightens up, or in the fall with changing leaves.
  • Mini gems, stones, and crystals can add a magical mystique to the nail of your choice. One perfectly-placed sticker gem is really all you need to make a statement when the sun shines, creating that eye-catching glitter effect that truly mesmerizes!  
  • Advanced and abstract accent nails can really let you channel your inner artist with aggressive patterns and modern designs. We’re talking about the kind of stuff you would see at an upscale art gallery, with controlled splatters and angular lines. Not for the faint of heart, these are the toughest accents to pull off, but look amazing when done right.

  • As you can see, you have no shortage of material to work with when selecting your next accent nail strategy. This article from Byrdie compiled some of the coolest Insta pics to help you visualize what we’re talking about. 

    Also, remember to bookmark your favorite design ideas online to make sure you never forget where to find inspiration.

    Keep it fresh, try new things, and enjoy the freedom of accent nail styles!

    Special Significance

    The accent nails we’ve discussed so far can pretty much be worn any day in any season, but there are a few special situations that call for a specific accent nail plan!

    For example, you may want to coordinate with your friends on a particular occasion, like a holiday or birthday party, so you’re all rocking the same style on the same finger. This can be a lot of fun and doesn’t take a ton of coordination for a big group.

    When wedding season rolls around, you’ll definitely want to step up your accent nail game, especially if you’re the one tying the knot! 

    If you’re gearing up for game day, be sure to paint at least a couple of accent nails with your team colors or even a little logo to show your support.

    Fall and winter holidays are perfect to really step up your accent nail game.

    In our opinion, the entire month of October should be dedicated to Halloween, meaning you have 31 days to create spooky and silly designs that everyone will love.

    Thanksgiving is another great time for family fun, with pumpkins, turkeys, and even more football. Be sure to tune up your accent nails for this special occasion as well.

    Have a work event or conference coming up? It’s definitely worth getting an accent nail that matches your outfit and strikes the perfect balance between formal and fun.

    You want to be approachable and stylish while still showing the world you mean business.

    An article from Plei explains that you don’t have to stick to the standard middle and ring finger accent nails either. The thumb provides the widest, easiest canvas for design, so don’t miss that opportunity to show off your skills and turn some heads.

    Press-On Accent Excellence

    We are fully aware that at-home manicures take time, and professional treatments take money. These are facts that can’t be ignored, especially when you add intricate accent nails to the mix.

    A lot of those crazy designs you see online just can’t be replicated at home, and to make them a reality you probably need to visit a pricey specialist.

    The bottom line is that not all of us have the resources or the energy to constantly dream up and execute the accent nails that we see online. We have friends, families, and jobs, after all!

    That’s why press-on nails have come to the rescue, for all those people craving to express themselves with awesome accent nail designs.

    Not only do press-on nails give you a huge selection of shapes, sizes, and styles for your daily looks, but many kits come with accent nails to spice things up as well.

    You can add stickers, gems, and even paint extra designs on top of the nails beforehand, giving you the chance to showcase your creativity better than ever.

    Plus, these products are super easy to apply and rarely cost more than $10 a set. Once you get used to putting them on and wearing them, you barely even notice they’re glued on!

    In other words, press-on nail kits are a true savior for anyone who has felt held back by the cost and inconvenience of accent nails in the past. Time to break free!


    We get way too excited about accent nails, and so should you! There is an INFINITE number of different looks that you can experiment with, so there’s no reason to get stuck in the same old styles week after week.

    Remember, there really are no rules when it comes to accent nails!

    Whether you decide to paint them on at home, get a professional treatment at the salon or pick out a set of press-on nails online, you will be thrilled when you unlock that extra boost of confidence and flair that accent nails offer.


    L’Oreal Paris



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