"Water" Nails Are Where Mermaidcore and Summer Meet

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Whether you are in your mermaidcore era or have just been looking for nail inspiration lately, there's no doubt you've come across "water" nails. The trend has fully taken over TikTok and been incorporated into tried-and-true designs (like the french manicure), and thanks to the premiere of "The Little Mermaid" and the subsequent mermaidcore beauty craze that's everywhere right now, it's only gotten bigger.

So, what exactly are water nails? "The manicure typically includes designs that are reminiscent of the ocean, pool, or anything else related to water," manicurist San Sung Kim tells POPSUGAR. "This look is starting to trend because the summer season is approaching us and water nails are refreshing to look at — perfect for a beachy summer holiday."

Below, Sung Kim breaks down everything you should know about the trend, including the products you can use to achieve the water-nails effect.

What Are Water Nails?

Water nail designs typically look like light reflecting off of water, but since the trend has gotten more popular, they have also come to include textured droplets, 3D motifs, and more. Whichever way you interpret it, the key to nailing the trend is to stick to the color scheme.

"People can achieve this look by using various shades of sheer blue and white polishes, an opaque white, and a clear topcoat," Sung Kim says. "If you want to personalize the manicure, add ocean-themed stickers or seashell charms to make sure that your manicure stands out from the crowd," she says.

How to Get Water Nails

While you can definitely achieve water-effect nails at home, the process can be a bit tedious, so it's recommended to go to a professional if you want to get the look. Still, if you want to try the trend for yourself, Sung Kim has a few tips.

"The easiest way to do this look is to apply a sheer blue polish as your base color," she says. We recommend mixing a blue color that you may already have, like Orly's Blue Tango ($11), with a clear topcoat. "Then, apply a layer of sheer white on top of that cured, blue base. Next, without curing the sheer white layer, apply dots of a clear topcoat to disperse the color." This will create something that looks like the surface of the ocean or pool. Finish the look with a layer of shiny topcoat to seal off everything, and you'll have the water nails of your dreams.

Water-Nail Inspiration

Not all of us can be Ariel in "The Little Mermaid," but we can all have this manicure. If you're convinced that water nails are in your future, we rounded up a few versions of the trend — perfect for pinning onto your mood board — ahead.

3D Water Nails

What do you get when you combine the kawaii trend and water nails? This absolute masterpiece.

Water Nails With Accents

Water nails are cool enough on their own already, but why not take it up a notch with tiny gems (especially if they're also sea inspired)?

Abstract Water Nails With Droplets

A more abstract interpretation of the trend, these water-effect nails used 3D droplets to make the manicure look wet.

Water French Manicure

Take your french manicure to a new level with the addition of water-effect tips. You can even add personal touches like the 3D droplets here.

Short Water-Effect Nails

Who says short nails can't get in on the fun? If you don't like long nails, this water-effect manicure is extremely detailed without the length.

Floral Water Nails

Nothing says vacation quite like these ombré water nails with floral details.