Why Paint One Nail a Different Color – What Does it Mean?

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The accent nail has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years, but if you’re not really interested in keeping up with the latest trends, then you may be asking yourself what the point is of having one nail on each hand be a different color. Why paint one nail a different color?

  • Though accent nails have a purpose, most people don’t use it for any real meaning.
  • They have been used as a form of ‘femme-flagging’ in the past.
  • Accent nails can be a great way to add visual interest to your manicure.

The answer to this question is fairly straightforward, but it may shock you nonetheless. In this article, we’re going to take a look at what an accent nail is and why it has gained popularity in recent years. Read on for the full scoop.


What Do Accent Nails Mean?

For the most part, accent nails don’t have any particular meaning. They’re just there to add a pop of eye-catching interest to a set of nails, and they can be a great way to add some visual appeal to your new style without going crazy with nail polish. 

For instance, if you have a set of simple french tips, then painting one nail a brighter color – or even just any color – can be a great way to spice up your look. It’s a fun way to draw attention to your hands and add something unique to your manicure. 

Most people like to have their accent nail on their ring finger since that’s the finger we expect to see a ring on. However, the middle finger is also a popular location to have an accent – it’s right in the middle and is often one of the first fingers people look at. 

Most people like to have their accent nail on their ring finger.

Femme-Flagging & The Accent Nail

Femme-flagging is a term used amongst queer women to refer to particular ways of dressing and augmenting their appearance to ‘signal’ to the world – usually other queer women – that they are part of the LGBTQ+ community. It can involve anything from dressing a certain way or wearing certain accessories (like big, unique earrings) to wearing an accent nail. 

While there are certainly some provocative connotations to the accent nail in relation to women that are part of the LGBTQ+ community, accent nails have been used by queer women for years as a way to express their identity to the world. 

Femme-flagging, also called finger flagging, involves painting one or two nails a different color to the rest of your nails. Certain nail polish colors are used to represent certain things. We won’t get into these things now – you’ll have to do your own research for that!

Accent Nail Ideas

If you’re in the mood for a new manicure and are feeling inspired, consider adding an accent nail to your next set. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Glitter Accent Nails

One of the simplest, most effective ways to spice up your manicure is to add a glittery nail. Even beginners will have no problem creating this easy design. All you really need is a pretty, sparkly nail polish, and you’ve done half the job already. 

Then, you simply have to paint one of your nails with this stunning polish, and you’ll be left with an elegant, sophisticated accent nail that won’t be too loud. 

2. Complementary Colors

If you aren’t a fan of all things sparkly, then opting for something a little more subtle may be the way to go. If that sounds appealing, we recommend painting your accent nail a color that compliments the rest of your set. 

For instance, if you have painted your nails a rich purple but still want an accent nail, consider painting one nail a bright yellow. Purple and yellow complement one another and thus look very good next to each other. 

Alternatively, you could paint your accent nail a lighter or darker shade of the same color. So, if you have a set of pink nails, you could have one nail be a loud fuschia or a soft baby pink that borders on white. The possibilities are truly endless here!

3. Rhinestones

For those times when you’re feeling extra glamorous, consider adding a couple of rhinestones to your accent nail. Don’t worry; the process is far less daunting than it sounds and will only take a couple of minutes max.

While your nail polish is still slightly wet, pick up one or two rhinestones with a pair of tweezers and place them on your accent nail in the positions you want them. Once the polish has dried, the stones will be secured in place, and they’ll look great. 

This trick works especially well if you’ve already accented your nails with another complementary nail color. For Christmas, we’re particularly fond of adding rhinestones to a green accent nail amongst a set of red nails – and if you’re feeling really inspired, you could add some gold lining to the whole lot. 

4. Accenting with Patterns

Accent nails don’t always have to be plain and simple. In reality, accent nails make for a great place to start experimenting with different techniques. 

Accent nails don’t always have to be plain and simple.

If you have a set of plain, opa que nails and want an accent nail, you could try adding a fun pattern to one of them. It doesn’t have to be anything too intricate – just a couple of swirls or thin lines in a pop of color, and you’ll have a beautiful accent nail in no time. 

5. Animal Print

Animal print is naturally quite loud and thus works well as the basis for an accent nail. We’re particularly fond of having a leopard print accent nail on a set of nude, opaque nails for a funky pop without being too loud. 

Of course, we don’t expect you to take the time to paint a complex animal print on your nails. Plenty of kits come with nail stamps, allowing you to stamp a design onto your nails in just a few seconds. It’s definitely worth considering if you want a fun accent nail!

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).