How to Do Two-Tone Nails

by Anna Liesemeyer ; Updated September 28, 2017

Summer, with its bold and bright clothing trends, is the perfect time of year to get creative with your nails. There are endless possibilities for two-tone nails that you can apply to either your hands or toes with some washi tape and a few easy steps.

Washi Tape

The best way to get clean lines for two tone nails is to start with washi tape. It is easily applied and removed, and does not leave a sticky residue. Tear small pieces and smooth them over your nails to create the lines and patterns of your choice. Paint the area marked off with washi tape. It is okay if the nail polish goes over the edges of the tape. Make sure your polish dries thoroughly before you remove the tape. This should create clean lines for any two-tone nail design that relies on straight edges.

Geometric Designs

This geometric nude + white pattern is an easy alternative to the usual American or French manicure, and it passes for a unique formal look. You can view this step-by-step geometric nail tutorial for a good reference to using the washi tape to create the nail patterns you prefer. You could also try this same geometric look in reverse with white nails and nude cut-out effect tips.

Speedy Stripes

If you are in a bind for time, and want a quick solution for modern nails, just add a stripe down the center of your nails, no washi tape needed. This can work with any color combination you prefer. Whether it is jewel tones, complimentary colors, pastels, or maybe just black and white, this whimsical two-tone nail option is a great way to change up your look. Simply choose your two colors, paint the entire nail set in the base color, and let it dry. Add the second color with a thick stripe down the center. You can paint the stripe freehand down the center or use washi tape for precise lines. You could also do a triple thin strip or a double wide stripe idea. This passes as either a casual or dressed-up look.

Mini Moons

Similar to the geometric nail tutorial, you can use nude and white for a variation from the standard manicure. Using a good nude base on your nails, use a toothpick or skinny paintbrush to dab the white color polish at the bases of your nail beds to create mini moons! This is look works really well for a more formal night out, and is a versatile option to pair with any color or pattern dress.

Festive Flair

Get festive with a little blue and red nail polish in diagonal stripes. For this look, start with polish-free nails. Add your washi tape in a diagonal pattern to and put the blue polish stripe at the outer edges of your nails. Once that dries, remove the tape and repeat the process at the base of your nails with the red polish. This would be just the right two-tone nail look for Memorial Day weekend, 4th of July or Labor Day weekend.

Royal Flush

How about the ace of spades to inspire your next nail story? Paint your nails in white polish, and use a deck of cards as your guide to free paint hearts, diamonds, aces and spades. You can also use a toothpick to outline your suit shapes and fill in the rest with your brush. As an alternative to this look, try the spades and clubs in black. Either look makes a two-tone nail style to change up your everyday casual wear.

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About the Author

Anna Liesemeyer is the lifestyle blogger behind In Honor of Design where she gives accessible style, home, travel and general lifestyle tips and advice. She is also the founder of The Brand Market workshops. She is usually juggling at least a few creative projects in between adventures with her kids. She currently resides in the Atlanta area.