Listen up all you non-"nail people" – all of you crackled, decaled, intricate design-resisting holdouts – now's the time to polish up your act. The shades and creations on the spring 2012 runways will miraculously transform your nails into your new favorite accessory – even if you keep everything else quiet and reserved. Repeat after me: you do not have to go all Nicki Minaj to have awesome nails this season. There's truly something beautiful and creative for everyone. Just follow this pro advice from green celebrity manicurist Jenna Hipp. (She does practically every "it" girl in Hollywood's nails, from Anna Paquin to Zoe Saldana.)
Bold, creamy colors of the rainbow are a must for anyone looking to make a big statement in a small space. (Try your pick of American Apparel Neon Nail Lacquer, $6.)
Tip: Bronzed-skin ladies, this trend is perfect for you! Your skin tone looks best with neon colors or anything bright.
Clear and nude nail polishes are always in style, but this season, expect to see a modern twist with lots of pale, glossy, and sparkly shades that look fit for a ballerina. Think light grays, sheer whites, pale pinks, and creamy soft beiges. (Try Zoya Nail Polish in Minka or Dove, $8.)
Tip: Keep light polishes from spreading unevenly by using a base coat, which creates a guide for the polish and grips the lacquer to the nail.
The garden variety
From satiny rose to the darkest green, prepare to slick on colors you'd find in a garden. (Try Essie's A Spring to Invest In collection, $8 per polish.)
Tip: Chartreuse and mustard are heavy hitters this spring, as well as shades that have an organic, earthy feel.
From glitter and sequins to rhinestones and pearly finishes, anything bright and shiny is fair game.
Hipp tip: If you have fair skin, your blue undertones will go best with sheer base colors in light pinks and ivories.
Ombré, take two
The ombré trend that made a big splash on heads everywhere also looks great on fingertips. For spring, consider blending shades of blue or green.
Tip: Use a stain and cuticle remover to gently remove dead tissue from cuticles and get rid of dark or light stains this trend could leave behind. (Try SpaRitual Cuti-Clean Cuticle and Stain Remover, $15.)
A flair for fabric
If it's worth putting on your clothes, it's worth putting on your nails. From bold racing stripes to graffiti-inspired scenes, fun patterns are showing up all over nails this season – some hand-painted, some courtesy of Minx.
Tip: Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to intricate details. Polish really needs to dry for a couple of hours before it's completely dent-free, so resist the urge to dig into anything that could potentially mess up your handiwork before the two-hour mark.
Lucite – usually seen in furniture and jewelry – makes for a futuristic sensation on nails. Look for clear acrylic tips sporting metallic accessories or lacy patterns like these created by CND nail expert Candice Manacchio.
Tip: Don't let ragged cuticles compete for attention. Keep cuticle oil with you at all times. (Try The Body Shop Almond Oil Nail and Cuticle Oil Pen, $12.)
The French manicure is more fashionable than ever in high-contrast two-tone form. The dark-light combos set off all those inverted-triangle tips and reverse manicure "moons." Our favorite pairing: navy and candy pink. (Try Butter London 3 Free Lacquer in Royal Navy and Primrose Hill Picnic, $14 each.)
Tip: If you like nail art, but prefer a more subdued look, opt for one of the colors to be nude. The nude gives the illusion of a bare nail, toning down the overall effect.
See ya, square. Hello, ovals!
Round, long-ish shapes are in, which is good news because they make your fingers look longer and more slender. To get the look, invest in a good nail file (try Diamancel Flexible Diamond Nail File in Fine no. 1, $26).
Tip: If you're partial to squares, try the "squoval," which is the perfect balance between square and oval. To realize the best shape for your nails, follow the natural curve of your cuticle.
The perfect finish
Avoid bubbling and chipping – and extend the life of your mani-pedi – with these tried-and-true tips:
1. Prep nails and smooth rough calluses with a body scrub (try a homemade sugar scrub or Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Advanced Anti-Aging Body Wash, $7.99).
2. Use the same brand for your base and topcoat as your polish.
3. Do not blow on your last coat or polish nails near a draft.
4. At least three times a week, apply a deep hydrating oil all over feet and cover with cotton socks overnight.
5. Every few days, swipe a new protective layer of topcoat onto your nails.