The 17 Best 90s Nail Trends Acrylic: Step-by-Step Guideline

90s nail trends acrylic
Acrylic nail trends have been around since the 1990s, but they’re still popular today. Check out these acrylic nail designs from the past decade!

Nail trends never debut, but instead, they make a comeback now and then. These are some of the tricks and tips turned into the new direction through social media, and they even got new names because we, the people, are good at naming things. And that is how people work.

They take inspiration, personalize it, and make it a part of their lives. And I think every artist is like that. A well-known painter once stated that the greatest works of art are primarily copies or forgeries of those who came before them. And as nail art is esteemed as something of skill in a tiny space, the 90s nail trends acrylic are something to re-emerge and recreate with time.

As a nail technician, I was hoping for a 90s revival. Not because they are funky and classy, but because they hold a part of our culture that people try to forget. The 90s were the decade of modern nail art. Every artist, from Nirvana to Lisa Frank, made newspaper headlines for their appearances. And the same goes with painting their nails.

The history of nail art

The recorded history of nail art is almost 7000 years long. As you apply different colors to your nails, the same happens with people of other civilizations and origins. Everyone, from Egyptians to Babylonians, had their take on nail art. The history of nail art is full of ups and downs, chaste, eureka, and dull moments.

The first recorded use of nail painting or hand painting, some might say, was from the Indian subcontinent, where women would use henna to color their hands. And this is standard practice even today. This was recorded almost 5000 BC.

And then emerged China, where people used natural ingredients like bee wax, vegetable dyes, eggs, gum Arabic, orchids, and rose petals to get color in their nails. You might have to keep it overnight to get the best results. Red was reserved for royalty, whereas regular people used general manicures to adorn their nails.

The Chinese people were nothing less than legends with nail paint. For example, the Zhou Dynasty used gold and silver dust on their nails to show their social status. And in the Ming Dynasty, people of position and title would use gold and crystal encrusted long nails and had caretakers just for their nails. Some of the rulers even had nails up to 6 inches. This might be to express their title or scare children in today’s case.

For nail history, there were also the Egyptians and the Inca Empire. Upper-class Egyptians wore colored nails, and the Incas decorated the nails with eagles. But up to 1800 AD, nail painting was considered a ritual of the dark ages, and the best Christians loved their plain and simple nails.

But during the Renaissance period, when the revival of art in general, people’s lives emerged, so they made love with painting nails for women. And in the Victorian age, the manicures were used with a red oil which left a slight tint. Vinegar and lemon juice was used to clean the nails. This was all part of physical hygiene and other terms like morality and inner beauty.

And then, in the 1920s, the revolution of nail polish and fake nail polish started, which remains more or less the same. Products and ideas change, but people do the same thing. The 90s nail trends acrylic were mainly fundamental, like pinks, nudes, and reds. To design their nails, they worked with sharpie markers.

What are acrylic nails?

What are Acrylic Nails?

If you talk about fake nails, the first thing that comes to mind is acrylics. The 90s nail trends acrylic, which is not something new, even for the 90s, but was a process in the making. The acrylics are made of acrylic glass or PMMA. The drinks are later mixed with ethyl methacrylate and an inhibitor. This mixture will begin to harden almost immediately, and you can keep it for up to three weeks. Or you’ll need a retouch with grown nails.

Nail tips are easier to use and are made of A.B.S., which is more flexible. Though they are secured for a week, they will only need glue to attach.

For the acrylic nails currently in use, dip powder is used with a clear acrylic liquid. Dip powders can be pigmented and of different colors. And you can wear it on your natural nails or the nail tips or even create fake acrylic nails.

The history of fake acrylic nails

The first acrylic nails were initially invented by a dentist who broke his nails and made a fake replacement with an acrylic nail plate. Later, he perfected the designs and started a company of artificial nails. And from that point on, fake nails were one of the trendiest terms used in fashion. Fredrick Slack was the dentist who invented the first fake nails, called acrylic sculpting nail extensions.

And later, in the 70s, long fake nails became a trend. The French manicure also emerged at that time and got stuck as one of the most elegant ways to color nails.

The 90s nail trends were solely a practical, adjustable version of nail art. Movies and actors influenced everything, and there were two main trends. And both of them were the opposite of each other. There was also something in between the grunge and the nautical trend, but that’s just mixed up.

The Grunge Trend

This is coming back with the 90s nail trends acrylic in 2022. And it has been almost twenty years since the nails made their marks. Vamp lips, smokey shadow, and getting high with tattoos are the trends started by Nirvana. The mainstay of the grunge trend was very dark maroon, red, or purple nail polish with a bit of chipping here and there. This trend has survived even after the 90s. If you remember the Tarantino films, you’ll know the nails we are talking about. And later on, stars like Lindsey Lohan and Johny Depp kept the trend somewhat alive.

And if you want to know if the nail trend has come back or not, it has. Bella Hadid rocked a bright green, chipped polish on the runway. So it is on trend, and the era of coolness is coming back.

The Natural Trend

The 80s were all about funky and long nails, so the women tried a healthy and modest version of the nails by keeping them short and healthy. So began the preferability of French manicures. Stars who paparazzi pictured were seen in regular nail polish, and Jennifer Aniston is a celebrity who starred in the sitcom Friends.

But the light red, nude, and pink nail polishes also made headlines. Then came the mood nail polish or P.M.S. nail polish. The mass media popularized it. Then Jenai Lane designed the nail polish line where the general public could choose the color according to their mood. Naming the polishes is where the revolution started. And these nail polishes were seen on Madonna, Drew Berrymore, etc., A-listers.

The 90s Nail Designs for 2022!

90s Acrylics

Now that we’ve talked so much about the 90s nail trend acrylic, let’s focus on the designs and the art. The 90s featured menu had many funky items, some of which were very impractical. But we’re not here to judge but to give you a review and an overall idea if you want to live the 90s vibe. And nothing is better than adorning oneself with clothes and jewels. The 90s nail trends acrylic had a tremendous amount of sparkle and glitter.

  • 90s Acrylics
  • Chunky Glitter
  • Yin Yang Patters
  • Metallic Nail Polish
  • Matching Mani-Padi
  • 90s Wine Nails
  • Block Patterns
  • French Manicures
  • Animal Print
  • Gold or Silver French Tips
  • Smiley Face
  • Pearl Manicures
  • Extravagant 90s Nail
  • Vamp Nails
  • Fire Red
  • Flared Nails
  • Half Moon Design

1. 90s Acrylics

Acrylic nails not only add length, but they can also give you shape and luster. And the most important thing about the 90s nail trends was that they were flashy. They had different forms and were colored and designed heavily. The prints and paintings had no references, but they had to follow the striking trend. In the 90s, acrylic women would go as large as possible and mostly choose an almond shape. Shorter acrylic nails were not so much of a trend.

2. Chunky Glitter

I love a sparkly nail with almost everything, and if it’s with flashy and chunky glitter, then I’m all in. We needed this 90s nail trend as it changed everything you put on. Wear it casually, and you’re good or wear it to a party, and you’re still good to go. This look resembles confetti rather than glitter to me. The glitter is now turned into a holographic dip powder applied more precisely. But still, everyone likes the current and the 90s holographic sparkle nails.

3. Yin Yang Patters

If we are to think of the 90s, the peace signs, and the yin-yang sign were included in the pop culture of that era. People love depicting what they see and hear in their art. And the same goes for the new art in pop culture. Nail artists started with their black and white yin yang, happy faces, and doodles to resemble the 90s. It was the end of the millennium, and so people wanted change. And for the 2022 uptake on the 90s nail trends acrylic remains almost the same, but with a slightly colorful version.

4. Metallic Nail Polish

Everything was sparkly in the 90s. Madonna was one of the legendary icons known for her outrageous blinking bong. Nothing was left with a simple touch, from frosted eyeshadow to glitter on the lips to a very light lacquer on the nails. The nails were long, and metallic nail polish was there. And as for today’s take on the facts, metallic nail polish is still used, but subtly. One or two nails will be painted with metallic lacquer, while the others will only have a glossy top coat. And we don’t do all glitter anymore, so choose one!

5. Matching Mani-Padi

Matching Mani Padi

I don’t know if this was a 90s trend, but we all love a matching mani-pedi. It is not tacky, and there is something of serenity when the fingernails and toenails match. Many say that the matching rules are outdated, but nothing is wrong with them. You can use the same color for your hands and feet, which looks surreal. And if you can make an outfit pattern with matching mani-padi, we’d all appreciate some Instagram shots. This is an excellent way to tie things together, and you can use the same color scheme.

6. 90s Wine Nails

This kind of nail painting is nostalgic yet new. Our grandmother used it, and so did our mothers; now it is our turn. These dark wine nail polishes have tiny glitters and dots, and the polish’s color will change according to the light. You can start by using only a coat of nail paint and eventually build it up with two or three coats. The heavier you go, the darker they look.

7. Block Patterns

If we are to suggest the ultimate 90s pattern, then we’d go for the zigzag or chess board look. This is the most straightforward pattern you can pull off and is very versatile with color schemes. It doesn’t have to be black and white only; you can choose a darker and lighter shade or any of the two complementary shades. And this pattern is also one of the most eligible for the matching mani-padi.

8. French Manicures

People of the 90s were torn between deciding to go grunge or neutral. And the French manis were and still are among the most famous. The 90s were about pop influence, so the French style also changed. Instead of plain white, people used glitter, parrots, and colors. And the shape of the nails was not always square, but they mostly went for coffin-shaped nails. But for the 22nd reference, people like it elegant and classy, and they go for lilac or tonal French manicures instead of white.

9. Animal Print

Animal print

Animal print was always a trend, and when people wore natural leather, they preferred their 90s nail trends acrylic to match their cloth print. And this is how animal print on nails became so famous then. Leopard print on yellow or orange nails is an old classic. And the cow prints are also very nostalgic and famous. And you don’t have to stick with stripes of black and white; just go for the color that you think looks good with your fit.

10. Gold or Silver French Tips

Nothing is more trendy than gold or silver on the nails. They are elegant and fashionable and look good with every nail shape. Metallic acrylic was popular from the very early 90s, and people would use it all over. But currently, the terms have changed with gold and silver nail tips. You can add a bit of glitter to the nail color to make it funkier. Gold and French silver tips are some of the best shades with or without glitter, and you can even do it in bronze undertones.

11. Smiley Face

We can hardly suggest anything about these nails, but they give out good vibes. But 22’s trend is more towards depression and trend rather than people with good smiles and fun. So, if the smiley face trend is popular, people are probably nostalgic, but gen Z doesn’t seem to appreciate a yellow smile on their nails.

12. Pearl Manicures

If we mention an over-the-top 90s nail trend acrylic, we have to suggest pearl acrylics. This is one of the show stoppers, yet an uncomfortable take. You can pick it up from a pair of jeans to a gown; it’ll still pop. But the manis might not be as reliable. So for these nails, you can go for a press-on fake nail, which will last you a week. You’ll just need some glue and your pearl nails.

13. Extravagant 90s Nail

If we talk about the 90s celebrity trend, we can easily see the aesthetics of dark lipstick, bold eyeshadow, and long nails. Many women of color, like Janet Jackson, Lil Kim, and others, put on a show with their long and extravagant nails. Over the top and extended claws were a thing on the red carpet, not just in movies. Hand-painted designs and foils were largely used on the nails.

14. Vamp Nails

Vamps nails

This is the manifestation of the grunge trend and the beginning of the emo phase. People would go for more sultry shades like plum, maroon, black, oxblood, etc. It might be our Halloween or winter color pallet for the 22s, but people in the 90s will wear the shades all year round. And black lipstick would also go with the look.

15. Fire Red

Classic red polishes were a thing in the 90s, as were classic red lips. Women of all ages will nail a classic fire engine red and still wear leather jackets and suits. Chanel Le Vernis-Gitane is the best nail paint if we’re talking about classic and fire engine red on the fingers. This is a classic hue but still much more popular in the 90s.

16. Flared Nails

These are also known as the Duck Feet Nails because the long extended part of the nails is flared like a duck’s feet. These fan-shaped nails were a nail artist’s dream, and Tik-tok has recently begun to revive the trend. Many people are getting Duck Webbed Nails manicures and even encrusting jewels and miniature figures.

17. Half Moon Design

This might be one of the few 90s nail trends acrylic that my mother used, and I wanted as well, but she wouldn’t let me as I was too “young.” But still, this nail trend is one of the most 90’s-ish trends to swirl around. And if you really want something of a vintage look, go for the Malibu Barbie or Hot Pink Shade for nostalgia.

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If you want to follow up on the trends with 90s-inspired looks and don’t know how to get started, we’ve got your back. Here we are including a step-by-step routine on how you can do your nails at home while keeping up with the 90s nail trends acrylic.

Step 1: Clean Up

Clean up

The first step is to clean up the old nail polishes with acetone and ensure no stains from the old polish.

Step 2: Prepare Your Nails

Prepare Your Nails

Prepare your nails with a nail file and a trimmer. Do the shape you’re looking for and smooth the nail surface evenly. And do not trip the nails very short. Otherwise, the nails will not look good. And put a cuticle oil to strengthen the nails. Lastly, apply a nail primer for gloss and shine.

Step 3: Choose a Design

Choose a design

For the 90s nail trends acrylic, you can go for the polka dots, colored french tips, jewels, or a floral design. Anything you choose should start and end with the same steps.

  • Apply a base coat first.
  • Apply a top coat last for the longevity of the nails.

For French tips:

  1. First, you need to apply a base, and you can also go for a transparent one.
  2. Put a French manicure sticker on your nails and paint over it. Remove the sticker before the nail paint dries.

For Polka dots:

  1. Apply a colored layer on top of the base coat and let it dry.
  2. Use a tiny and precise brush and dot the nails lightly. Use a different color or the same color with a different texture for these nails. Let it dry.

Glitter Polish:

  1. Buy a glittery nail polish and apply it directly on top of your base coat.
  2. Put loose glitter on the gel polish and apply it.
  3. Do another coat for better pigmentation. Let it dry.


What are acrylic nails trending?

Here we include a list of the trendiest acrylic nail designs for 2022.
1. Colored French Manicures 
2. Stripes
3. Metallic Nails
4. Fluorescent Colors
5. Strawberry Designs
6. Constellation 
7. Pastel Art
8. White Swirl On A Nude Base
9. Fun Graphics
10. Black And White Tips 
11. Animal Prints, Etc.

What is the most popular acrylic nail shape?

Almond-shaped acrylic nails are the most commonly used acrylic nail shape. Most clients ask for round or almond shape nails. One can go with an extended length with the nails or just a short and classic distance with almond or round-shaped acrylic nails.

To sum Up

90s trends like dark brown lipstick to crop tops, everything is making its way into 2023. But the looks are somewhat elevated. But the 90s was not something that was always a hit, and we put our heart when we say there were indeed some notable flops. And for the 90s, nail trends acrylic were a bit of nostalgia yet had an efficient impact in shaping the history and presence of the American pop culture.

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