The half-moon manicure is a look that’s popping up everywhere from celebrity-packed runways and red carpets to regular, everyday locales like schools and offices. Simply put, a half-moon manicure is a nail art design that features two contrasting shades of polish, one at the base and one at the tips, almost like a reversed French manicure. Easy to dress up or down, this versatile type of manicure can come across as bold and daring, or simple and subdued, depending on the polish shades you decide to integrate into its design.

While the look seems easy to pull off, it does require some precision and patience. Here are some foolproof instructions for a DIY half-moon manicure that you can try on your own:

  1. One of the biggest mistakes that DIY manicure novices make is to think about filing and shaping their nails after they have already applied color. No matter what type of manicure you’re giving yourself, it’s important to cut, file, shape, and clean nails before you even think about touching any colors.
  2. Entirely coat each nail with the color you wish to have on the lower half/base of your manicure. Allow the polish to fully dry before moving on to the next step.
  3. Remember those little white paper reinforcements that you used to stock up on at the beginning of every school year? You probably thought you would never buy them again now that you no longer tote around three-ring binders filled with loose-leaf paper, but think again. Not only did they do a great job of mending your ripped papers back when you were in middle school, but these little circles also work well as templates/guides when outfitting your nails with a half-moon manicure. Securely fasten a paper reinforcement to each nail’s base so that it creates a half-moon that takes up about 25-40% of the nail, depending on your preference.
  4. Paint the upper section of the nail with another shade, removing each reinforcement after you do so. Don’t worry about waiting for the polish to dry before removal.
  5. Once your second color has dried, apply a clear topcoat to seal the design.

Helpful Tip: If you plan on leaving one section of your half-moon manicure bare/unpolished, the process will differ slightly. Apply the paper reinforcements to the base of each unpolished nail, painting the top section with the color of your choice. Remove each reinforcement, and once the color has dried, seal with a clear topcoat.

Now that you’ve mastered the process, check out these lovely inspiration photos for fun variations on a basic half-moon manicure. There’s something here for everyone, whether you’re looking for a bold “show stopper” or a look that’s a little more ordinary:

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half moon nails

Image Source:

Forget a hunky date or extravagant jewels! A classy half-moon manicure in nude and white is the perfect red carpet accessory for an A-list actress like Rachel McAdams, but it’s also simple enough to work in your everyday life.


Image Source: Kara of Sprinkles in Springs

WARNING: This next design may lead to excessive sugar consumption! Visually inspired by pastel macaroon cookies, this sweet multi-color design is the perfect choice for those who love the look of a half-moon manicure but may have a difficult time selecting just one or two shades.

half moon manicure

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Demi Lovato’s fans may worship her for her undeniable singing and acting talents, but her rock star manicures have also garnered her plenty of followers on Instagram. Ms. Lovato herself posted this snapshot on her Instagram account before recently performing on LIVE with Kelly and Michael! While the black and white design oozes with edginess, it also looks polished and put-together.


Image Source: Madison of Nails and Riffs

There’s simply nothing more glamorous than glitter. There’s no greater proof of that idea than this matte-finish, metallic half moon manicure, which packs more shimmer than we believed to be physically possible.


Image Source: Naseya of The Seventh District

If you’re looking for just a hint of glitter in your half-moon manicure, slick your nails with a bold coral gel polish and use a guide/template to control your sprinkling of loose gold glitter at the base of each nail.


Image Source: Jess of Nearly Natural Nails

Whether you’re a master hunter or a military wife/girlfriend, there’s no need to let the boys have all the fun with camouflage prints! You’ll need to coat the top half of your nails with a mint-hued polish and layer on a variety of greens with a dotting tool to pull off this marbled look. For the base of the nail, use a neon orange polish.


Image Source: Ivana of Ivana Thinks Pink

Hardcore rocker chick meets Barbie girl, this half-moon manicure is ideal for those punk princesses who want to show off contrasting sides to their personalities with their nail art.


Image Source: Nona of Dotty About Nails

This manicure is made for those who want all eyes on them. Easier to execute than it may look, this creative design is simply a black and white half-moon manicure with an eyeball drawn onto the base of each nail with a fine brush.

Hot pink half-moon decorative nail art 2

Image Source: Lucy of Lucy’s Stash

Why stick to two solid shades when you can use your nails as the perfect canvas to outlet your creativity? This design consists of a pink and white half-moon manicure, with a gorgeous black tulip painted onto each nail’s base with a thin brush.


Image Source: Goose of Goose’s Glitter

This half-moon manicure pops with bold colors and playful polka dots, providing physical proof that your nail design can be childish and chic at the same time.


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