Searches for this nail trend are up almost 2000 per cent

Whether you set aside time to paint them yourself or treat yourself to a regular manicure, there’s nothing quite like a fresh set of pristine nails to make you feel put-together. But if you’re bored of neutral nudes or tired of the same old one-note finish, sit up and take note of the new trend in town: tortoiseshell nails.

Pinterest reports that searches for the mottled manis are up 1898 per cent, and there are almost 9,000 uses of the #tortoiseshellnails hashtag on Instagram – numbers that based on current enthusiasm for the style will almost certainly continue to grow.

Although the look in fundamentally the same – a fusion of caramel hues swirled with black to create the signature graphic finish – there are already plenty of alternative takes on the design that will keep it feeling fresh. Try a more muted version with hints of grey and tan, pops of contrasting neon brights, or switch it up with minimalist details like dots, stripes or metallics.

Either way, you can rest assured in the knowledge that the finish product will go with everything (especially if you’ve already added tortoiseshell sunglasses, hair clips or handbags to your wardrobe).

Here are eight simple ideas to get you (or your nail artist) started.

9 ways to wear tortoiseshell nails

Accent nails

French tips


Half and half

Central stripe



Gold details

Heart tips