Have you ever been poolside and found yourself mesmerized by the glistening effect of sunlight bouncing off the water? Well, that vision has been transformed into nail art with water nails, a trend that’s currently flooding the internet — the tag #waternails has 15.5 million views on TikTok.

Earlier this year, nail artists predicted that textured nail art would be booming in 2023 — and they weren’t wrong. Much like actual H2O, this nail art makes a splash. Some iterations imitate water droplets (nail artist Gracie J recognizes this look as the original design), while other designs are slightly more abstract. “There have been many trending water-inspired nail designs in the past,” says Los Angeles-based nail artist Hemi Park. “But the current water nail trend are incorporating more realistic features, like water ripples.”

Ahead, discover two ways to try water nails.

How To Create Pool Water Nails

For this look, your primary goal is to mimic the translucent nature of water, and the nail artists we spoke with all recommended a gel lacquer for a realistic effect. A base jelly coat that has a semi-transparent finish like Cirque Colors Acqua Jelly lacquer makes for the perfect foundation, especially in an aqua shade. A glassy white or glimmering silver are two other dazzling options.

After applying your sheer base coat, Park suggests using a special polish called blooming gel which “dissipates colors easily to create the rippled water look”. Mix your blooming gel and white gel color in a one-to-one ratio and apply this on top of your base color. Before curing (putting your nails under an LED lamp to dry) this mixture, add small drops of clear blooming gel over the wet layer. “While the first layer of blooming gel helps to dissipate the semi-white mixture, the clear blooming gel droplets will reinforce the ripple water effect.”

Set the design by curing the entire nail; then apply a top coat for added shine.

If you want to DIY the pool nail look at home, a translucent blue gel polish like LeChat Crystal Waters (or Tooti Fruiti Lover Boy From Ella + Mila for a non-gel option) topped with a light shimmering topcoat gets you a similar effect.

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