Black and white nail designs: the photos you need for your next nail salon visit

Black and white nails are IN so here's the design you should try out


by Lucy Brown |
Updated on

Nail trends will come and go but one design that will never go out of style is a black and white nail. Classy and timeless, black and white nails can take on a variety of designs from 60's glam to a modern twist on the classic French manicure.

Many popular black and white nail designs are relatively simple to carry out at home with the right prep and tools. Before painting your nails or even attempting to start a design, it is important to prep your nails to ensure the design lasts and looks its best. Fatima Naveed from Duck & Dry says that the key to a perfect manicure is in the prep.

"Before painting, you should buff & file your nails, wash your hands, and then dry them to ensure a perfect base," she says.

How to file your nails

Before you start filing away at your nails, you need to have a shape in mind.

The shape of your nails can largely dictate your nails finish, with popular shapes being almond, round, square, coffin and stiletto.

If you're wanting to get rid of length, start by clipping your nails first and then filing from there. When filing, start at one of the outside corners and file towards the centre. Try not to file back and forth across the entire nail tip as this can be damaging to the nail. Once you achieve the desired length and shape on one side of the nail, file from the opposite side toward the centre. Remember to take it slow when filing as you don't want to file off more nail than desired.

Twist on a classic French manicure

If you're after a more subtle look - something more work appropriate and less eye catching - then a black and white French manicure could be for you. Traditionally French manicures are a baby pink colour all over then nail with a classic white tip. However in recent years, the trend of adding different colour tips, particularly black, has taken off.

Understandably, recreating a French manicure can be some what daunting as it calls for extreme precision, but Fatima says that there are a few tips and tricks to make getting that French mani even easier.

"My secret for DIY French tips is French manicure stickers and a thin nail art brush for precision," she says.

Using stickers helps to barrier off the part of the nail that shouldn't be painted from the part that you are painting, making it easier to get clean lines with little to no smudging. However if you don't have access to French manicure stickers Fatima says that there are alternatives, "If you're in a rush and can't wait for the stickers, use good old-fashioned tape - just make sure your base coat is fully dried!"

If you're wanting to make your French manicure even more unique, choose black tips for one hand and white for the other to create a different look.

Nail stickers

For some more intricate designs it might be easier to use nail stickers than to attempt the design yourself if you're not feeling too confident.

Most nail stickers can be applied both on bare nails and on top of painted nails, making them an easy way to level up a regular manicure.

Gina Farran the founder of Glaize nails says that when it comes to applying nail stickers, these are the steps you should follow:

  1. Bend the sticker sheet to help release the sticker

  2. Use tweezers or your fingers to remove your chosen sticker

  3. Press down and apply to nail

  4. Optional: add a coat of clear nail varnish to seal your nail art stickers and optimise how long they last. They should last 7+ days depending on your lifestyle

  5. When you are ready to take them off, simply peel them off! If you are struggling to remove them, you can use hand cream to help loosen the stickers

Gems and jewels

For more of a stand out party look, adding some gems and jewels to your nails gives them that wow factor. "If you want to apply nail gems, always lay the gems out on the table before beginning and make sure you have a crystal picker tool so you can pick them up and apply with ease," says Fatima.

Pop of colour

For a barely there look, painting the outside corner of one side of the nail offers a nice pop of colour. Alternating between black and white on every other nail, all you need is a fine detail brush to recreate the look.

Glitter nails

If you've got a special occasion coming up, adding some glitter to your nails is extremely easy. You don't necessarily even need to coat all your nails in glitter, you could just choose a couple of feature nails to add it to.

Glitter can be added in a few ways - the most common being glitter polish or gel. This makes it quick and easy to apply as it is put on in the same way as regular nail polish.

The alternative is applying actual glitter to your nails, this is a better option if you want the glitter to be more eye catching and the glitter to be bolder. However this can be more temperamental as directing the glitter onto the desired part of the nail requires a very steady hand and lots of precision.

In both cases, a top coat should be applied over the glitter to lock it in and make the top of the nail smooth.

A black French manicure with a twist

Another simple design, but this French manicure with added lines along the nail bed creates an interesting look. To recreate, start by creating a normal French manicure and then with a fine precision brush outline the bottom of your nail. This can be done on bare nails or paint your nails a base colour of light pink.

Line art

If you are wanting a more simple, but still unique design, adding some line art to your manicure is a great way to go. All you need is a thin nail art brush and a steady hand. To switch it up, choose a slightly different design for each nail with different lines in a variety of angles and amounts.

"Nail designs requires precision, you can either use one thin nail art brush or, if you're going to really make it a hobby, invest in a few with varying thickness/density. For those looking for a quick hack, nail art stamps are for you - they really work and take seconds," says Fatima.

Glossy black tips

Another design that has become increasingly popular over the past few years is the French manicure with chunky black tips. Traditionally a French manicure is just the very tips of the nails, however recently a trend of the tips being thicker, occupying more of the nail has come about. To add to the nails longevity and add extra shine add a glossy top coat on top of the French manicure.

Different designs for each nail

The past couple of years have seen a rising trend of nail designs where each nail features a different design. Some love it, some hate it, but it doesn't seem to be going out of style anytime soon.

Black and white are the perfect colours for this as they still keep the nails looking classy and offer lots of room for creativity. For example, for one nail you could choose to paint it completely black, the next being a French mani with a black tip, the next being a white nail with black polka dots, followed by a simple nail with black line art and finished with a white French tip.

This type of design is also great for working out what type of nail art you like and what type you don't and gives you time to experiment.

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