Milk Bath Nails Turn Your Summer Manicure Into A Work Of Art

Imagine yourself soaking in a milk bath like a goddess. Egyptian ruler Cleopatra was rumored to bathe in goat's milk daily, and Roman Empress Poppaea luxuriated in milk's lactic acid. Doing such a thing daily for your skin is a little pricey, but the translucent gleam you get while rising gracefully out of a milk bath can be recreated on your nails. Along with the glazed donut and "your nails but better" trend, milk bath nails are a great way to take advantage of summer's softer, more natural manicures. 

When we hit the fall season, there will be plenty of time for dark and dramatic colors. The look of a cool, refreshing milk bath — perhaps full of flowers or dried fruit — is exactly the trend we're looking at for the hotter months. Elle Gerstein, a manicurist to celebrities like Jessica Chastain and Blake Lively, described the trend to PopSugar by saying, "Milk-bath nails are acrylic nails where colorful dried flowers are embedded into a milky color acrylic." This nail trend is fairly simple to do, even if you're doing it at home on natural nails, and tiny flowers aren't the only way to wear this look. Pro tip: Make sure to keep your hands moisturized. This looks is very soft and having soft hands keeps the style consistent. 

Flowers everywhere

For a basic milk bath manicure, start with a milky white polish, like Aprés Nail's Baby's Breath, as celebrity nail artist Brittney Boyce suggested to InStyle. Gel polishes work particularly well here as they have that lovely glassy quality. Then you can be as creative as you like, decorating the look with flowers, fruits, or gems that look like a hidden treasure that might emerge from Queen Ravenna's white bath in "Snow White and the Huntsman." 

Once you have your decoration, follow with a top coat of the pale shade so it appears that your tiny items are just under the surface of the milky liquid. (Then a top coat to protect your pretty digits, of course.) Don't feel stuck with using white, though. You can use pinks and pastels or even soft rainbow colors. If it seems like something out of a magical fairyland, you're doing it right. If you are getting hitched, this is a great wedding look as well. There are plenty of ways to make this milk bath manicure your own beyond the main trend of flowers floating just below the surface of the milk. 

Stars and glitter

Traditionally, a milk bath is filled with flowers as we mentioned, but that doesn't mean you have to stick to the floral side of things. If you're more of a magpie who likes sparkly nails, you can use glitter or shimmering stars under that milky top coat. The diffused light that you get by applying the sheer white (or pink or lavender, etc.) is going to soften anything you use as decoration. The gold accent at the bottom of the picture above gives you a little extra glam to sparkle in the summer sun. You can also try out some gold or silver leaf, which you can get at a craft store if you're doing this yourself. 


Ombré works beautifully with this summer 2023 nail trend. You don't just have to do pinks and whites, though. Try it with a pale plum or a sky blue (maybe add in a few clouds), or do a rainbow ombré look. We saw this trend quite a bit with matte nails, but it's even lovelier here. You could even try to emulate a pastel sunrise, as though the sun is staining your milk bath with color. The only limit is your (and/or your nail artist's) imagination. 

Fruit slices in your milk bath

Painted fruit slices or even fruit decals are a great way to switch up the milk bath manicure trend. Heck, you can put anything on here. Tiny flowers with little bumblebees, diamond-style gems, or even bath toys like rubber duckies can be put on here. Honestly, how can you take a good bath without one? 

We haven't seen it yet, but at some point, someone is going to do a version of milk bath nails with mermaid/fish scales or toy boats. Anything you might have in the bath will work here. You could even theme it to where you're going for a summer getaway. Hitting the Caribbean? Try a few tropical fish. 

Bain de lait means milk bath in French

Nicola Peltz Beckham wore a milky French manicure for her wedding, and really, the French manicure has rarely gone out of style. It's a classic and always looks elegant and sophisticated. The milk bath version is much softer and less severe than the white-on-pink or peach traditional look. There is no reason you can't add a little sparkle here or an iridescent shimmer, over the entire nail, or just on the tips.

While you're at it, and if you have the means, maybe try an actual milk bath after your manicure for some extra pampering and skin-softening. Hey, milk does a body good, right?