Nostalgic Jelly Nails Are the Subtle Statement Trend of the Summer

Nostalgic Jelly Nails Are the Subtle Statement Trend of the Summer featured image
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If I had to choose one word to sum up the hottest beauty trends of the moment it would be nostalgia. Whether it’s blue eyeshadows, a staple of the 1980s, ’90s-inspired bobs, blondes and claw clips or every kind of Y2K makeup, celebrities, experts, influencers and consumers are all looking back over the last 40 years for beauty inspo. Nail trends are no different. Jelly nails (much like the once-again popular sandals they’re reminiscent of) have made a major resurgence over the last year, with no signs of waning.

Jelly nails get their name from the texture of their formula, which when initially applied looks nearly translucent with a hint of sheer color and mega shine. As it builds, the color and opaqueness intensifies while maintaining its playful and bouncy and feel. Think of jelly formulas as lip gloss for your nails—they enhance, not mask, your natural features.

For nail minimalists like me, jelly nails are a fun and versatile gateway to nail color trends. They can be worn alone for a gorgeous wash of juicy color, but also layered with glitter and sparkle and nail art, and absolutely no color is off limits. The best part? Because of their translucence, jelly nails are a foolproof DIY manicure; no salon appointment required.


Jelly nails have been taking over social media, but have you tried at least one of the three jelly looks? 👀💖 OH, and another thing 😏- from 12/18-12/31 we are having an end of the year sale! We’re promoting a buy 2, get 1 ON US on ALL mani and pedi strips and 15% on all accessories. Click the link in the bio to get all these great essentials! 💅 #semicuredgelnailstrips #gelnailsticker #gelnailstickers #diygelnails #jellynails #koreanjellynails #nailinspo #kijibaenails

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Jelly nails look incredible all year round, but they especially shine in the summer sun. To make your own subtle beauty statement this season, see our favorite jelly polishes below.

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Gelcare Rose Water Gel Nail Polish ($20)

Give your nails “a little punch” with Gelcare’s Rose Water, a delicate, versatile pink. For a natural look, the brand recommends two coats; three or more achieves more opacity. Rose Water can also be layered with other shades to create milky, pearlescent and satin looks. And as with all Gelcare products, their formulas are 10-Free, free of ten harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and parabens.

gelcare rose water gel nail polish
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Lights Lacquer Aperol Spritz, Anyone? ($13)

Does it get any more summer than an Aperol spritz while laying by the pool? Lights Lacquer bottled up that vibe into a perfect red-orange, lightly shimmered jelly polish.

lights lacquer aperol spritz nail polish
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essie Nail Art Studio Jelly Gloss Nail Polish ($13)

For those who love a black mani but want to soften it up for summer, Essie’s Ink Jelly is a cool sheer black with a translucent finish. Surprising no one, Essie’s entire Jelly Gloss line is worth stocking up on.

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Butter London Jelly Preserve Strengthening Treatment ($9)

Butter London’s jelly formula isn’t just nail color, it’s a hybrid nail treatment made with tea tree oil, vitamin E and acai berry to help to repair existing nail damage and strengthen brittle nails. According to the brand, 89 percent of participants agreed it made their nails stronger and 93 percent agreed their nails looked brighter.

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Emilie Heathe Aurora Nail Artist Polish ($30)

Inspired by pastel sunsets, Aurora by Emilie Heathe was designed with deeper skin tones in mind. The fresh lavender shade highlights the natural color of the nail beds while adding a touch of playful purple shine, per the brand. It’s also enhanced with nourishing oils and antioxidants for overall healthier nails.

Emilie Heathe aurora jelly nail polish
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Cirque Colors Peach Jelly ($12.50)

Peach Jelly by Cirque Colors is another cocktail-inspired shade (bellini, anyone?) you’ll love this summer. The universally flattering coral-pink delivers a luscious, easy-to-wear juicy shine.

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Jin Soon Nail Polish in Whisper ($18)

Whisper is “like morning sunlight filtering through rose petals.” To see the elegant shade in action, click here.

jin soon nail polish Whsiper
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Ella + Mila Jelly Nail Polish ($10.50)

Ella + Mila have a plethora of jelly shades to choose from, but I’m partial to their Watermelon Jelly Rancher (shown here). The pink-red polish has a quick-dry, chip-resistant formula that is safe to share with my young daughter, a budding nail art lover herself.

hand holding a bottle of ELLA AND MILA watermelon jelly rancher nail polish
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ILNP Turquoise Blue Jelly Studio Color Nail Polish ($10)

For a cooler tone, ILNOP’s Turquoise Water evokes the “calmness of a secluded lagoon or the playful translucence of a summer pool.” Part of its Watercolor Collection, the brand encourages embracing the jelly formula’s squishy, translucent base to mix and layer as you desire.

ILNP tourquoise jelly nail polish
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Olive & June Jelly Baby Long-Lasting Polish ($9)

With chunky glitter and a plump, gel-like finish, Olive & June’s Jelly Baby is a showstopper. The iridescent blush shade applies and removes like standard polish, but we’ll bet you’ll never want to take if off.

olive and june jelly baby long-lasting nail polish
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Gelcare Emerald Gel Nail Polish ($20)

For a moodier, sultry shade, Gelcare’s Emerald green is gorgeously rich. (Four coats are recommended for maximum opacity.) The brand recommends letting the color speak for itself, or amping it up with foil nail art.

gelcare emerald jelly nail polish
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Manucurist Active Glow Blueberry ($16)

With a plant-based formula, Manucurist’s Active Glow line is an all-in-one nail perfector and ultra-glowy cool-rose jelly color. The blueberry moniker isn’t just for show, the shade (shown below) is made with antioxidant-rich blueberry extract to strengthen nails, plus restoring AHAs and nourishing sweet almond oil.


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