Gay Pride Rainbow Nail Designs with Illamasqua

A while back, I was very excited to be asked by my favourite brand Illamasqua to create some rainbow nail designs for Gay Pride, which they are sponsoring this year. Any excuse to adorn my nails with a rainbow of colours (not that I really need an excuse!); I spent that very same weekend sat at my desk with 7 of my favourite Illamasqua nail polishes in front of me and came up with the following three looks. They’re all very simple so there’s not really a step-by-step required, but I suppose they’re sort of mini tutorials. Make sure to stay tuned until the end of the post, as I have a little giveaway for you too!

Rainbow Nail Designs

Above are the colours I chose to use for these rainbow nail designs. Naturally you don’t have to use Illamasqua polishes, they’re just my preferred brand for the opacity of their bright colours! As well as your rainbow shades of nail polish, these are the things you’ll need to complete all the designs below:

Base Coat & Top Coat (my favourites are in this post)
White nail polish (Illamasqua do one called Scorch, but I’m using China Glaze White on White)
Dotting Tool
A palette (I use an old Pringles lid!)
A plastic document wallet
A kitchen sponge
Coloured rhinestones (optional)

Gathered everything together? Here we go!

Going Dotty

Rainbow Nail Designs

There are few things more simple to achieve in nail art than dotted designs – and they can look a lot more intricate than they really are if there’s a lot of colour going on!

Rainbow Nail Designs

Rainbow Nail Designs

To start this one, apply a base coat and paint your nails with a white base colour. Starting with your red polish, drop a bit onto your palette and pick up some colour on your dotting tool. Apply one or two rows along each nail starting from the cuticle (this will depend on your nail length).

Clean off your dotting tool – just wipe it on a cotton pad soaked with polish remover – and repeat with the orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink polishes. If you want to go to extra mile, you can crack out the coloured rhinestones at this point, just sticking them on to one or two dots of the corresponding colour on one accent nail, or on all your nails.

Rainbow Nail Designs

Be careful when applying your topcoat to this design because dots are very easily smudged (as you can see!). It might be best to wait until the dots are dry before going in with topcoat.

Okay – one down, two to go!


Rainbow Nail Designs

Now this one was more of an experiment for me than anything else. I’ve seen the watercolour nail look done before but had never tried it myself so I figured now was as good a time as any! This is the one you’ll need the plastic document wallet for. Cut 10 squares of it a couple of times the size of your nails.

Rainbow Nail Designs

As before, start with a clear base coat and a layer of white polish. There’s no need to do multiple coats of white on this one as it doesn’t need to be perfect, it’s just providing a bit of a canvas for the colours. Pictured above is my ‘test nail’ on which I didn’t have a white base coat, and you can see it looks much better with one.

Once your white coat is dry, unscrew the lids of all your rainbow polishes. Quickly, working one nail at a time, apply a drop of each colour to a random spot on the nail. Immediately grab one of your plastic squares and place it over the nail, gently pressing it down over the surface area if your nails are quite curved. Lift the plastic away, et voila! It’s not perfect but it’s fun – it reminds me of when you used to do butterfly paintings as a kid, you know, the ones where you fold a bit of paper in half, paint on one side and squish both sides together to transfer it.

Rainbow Nail Designs

Now just clean up the edges of your nails using your preferred method (I’m an advocate of pure acetone and an angled eyeliner brush) and apply a topcoat. Done!


Rainbow Nail Designs

Ahh, le piece de resistance! Gradient nails are one of my favourite things to do because they’re so easy but look so good. I’m loving how it looks with rainbow colours!

As with the other two designs, start with base coat and a white layer. Again, like the watercolour design the white is just serving to boost the rainbow colours this time so you only need one quick-n-dirty coat of the white. Once it’s dry, you can move on to the next step.

Rainbow Nail Designs

This is where you’ll need the sponge – cut a piece that’s roughly the height of your nails, a little taller is better than a little shorter. Unscrew the lids of all your rainbow polishes and working quickly, paint a stripe of each colour onto the sponge in rainbow order. If your nails are short, you may want to do very thin stripes or just work with fewer colours.

Rainbow Nail Designs

Rainbow Nail Designs

While the polish on the sponge is still wet, start dabbing it onto one nail. You might want to move up and down the nail a couple of millimetres to help the colours blend seamlessly into one another. Be warned, as you can see above this manicure does make a bit of a mess! Nothing that’s not easily cleaned up at the end, though.

Rainbow Nail Designs

Naturally, clean up your filthy fingers and apply a topcoat. Regular glossy topcoat looks great, but try experimenting with glittery or holographic topcoats (these often make the gradient look even smoother). A matte topcoat also looks really cool with this design!


Well done if you got all the way through that! If so, here’s your reward (not you, the one who scrolled straight past the post to get to the giveaway… I got my eye on you!).

Rainbow Nail Designs

Illamasqua have kindly provided me with two sets of the glorious UV polishes from this Summer’s Paranormal collection. Two winners will each receive a bottle of the three UV colours and a UV topcoat (see my post on Omen (green) here, and some ‘secret’ nail art using Geist UV topcoat here. One of my favourite bloggers Lucy has done some amazing nail art using the polishes – be sure to check her designs out here, here and here!

Anyway… nothing special required to enter, just use the Rafflecopter widget below and good luck! Sorry, I’m going to have to keep it UK only this time due to the Royal Mail restrictions on sending polish overseas.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Gamma, Noble, Jo’Mina and Collide nail polishes were all bought by me. Throb, Optimist and Nomad have been provided as PR samples or gifts from Illamasqua over the last couple of years.

38 thoughts on “Gay Pride Rainbow Nail Designs with Illamasqua

  1. Love your blog! You make my commute bearable every day, I’m going back through the years :) my favourite design id rhe polka dots – I love polka dots!

  2. love all 3 of these, I’m a huge fan of rainbow nails! I loved an idea I saw on youtube of a rainbow gradient with a black/clear water marble over the top of it, very pretty :)

  3. The gradient is gorgeous. Mine never seem to come out quite as flawless as that, so I must try the glitter topcoat tip.

  4. I think the watercolour using those darn plastic wallets is genius! They get crumpled easily at my work and I hate throwing them away, so I can now bring them home and put them to good use!

  5. I love these nail designs, absolutely gorgeous. I always get a bit intimidated when it comes to nail art like this nut you make it look so easy!


  6. These are gorgeous! I’ve always wished I couuld do something nice with my nails and I’m never careful enough – but that one you did on a sponge is so pretty and looks really simple, I think I’ll give it a try since I’m stuck at home waiting for the delivery man anyway!

    Nicola //

  7. Definitely the gradient, it’s awesome! Sadly my nails are just not long enough to fit that many lovely colours on!

  8. i adore the rainbow dots and the gradient post, my gradients never look good on my stubbly little nails :(

  9. Love the Going Dotty look the most. It’s stunning :) the gemstones are just so pretty. Your nails are amazing!

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