Nail Polish Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Nail Polish Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Choosing a tattoo design is a very personal choice, and it can be exciting to imagine what your next tattoo will look like. If you have a love of makeup artistry or nail design as a hobby or a professional career, or just appreciate characteristics like beauty, femininity, and the idea of pampering yourself, a tattoo inspired by nail polish could be a great choice!

In this article, we will examine the history of nail polish tattoos and look at some of the reasons one might choose this popular tattoo design. We will also outline what nail polish tattoos symbolize, where they would look the best and list a few design ideas to spark your creativity. Keep reading to learn all you need to know about nail polish tattoos: symbolism, meanings, and more!


What is the History of Nail Polish Tattoos?

Nail polish tattoos belong to a category of tattoos that revolve around the application of makeup, beauty, and femininity. It’s safe to say that the choice of a nail polish-themed tattoo has been around for quite some time, probably since tattoos became very popular during the second half of the 20th century.

The ritual of painting or coloring one’s nails has been around for much longer and can be traced back to Ancient China, Egypt, and Babylonia. Colors were often derived by dying the nails with a combination of dyes derived from beeswax, gelatin, plant material, gold or silver dust, and even Henna.

In those times, nail polish was reserved for the upper-classes and high society individuals. This practice was so prevalent among the Imperial family in China that it was a crime for lesser-statured people to wear painted nails.

However, tattoos among women have only become mainstream during the late 1900s, so this may be the timeframe when nail polish tattoos started to make an appearance. They are especially popular among people who have chosen nail art or makeup application as a profession or hobby.


What Do Nail Polish Tattoos Symbolize?

Nail polish tattoos are often used by those people in the beauty industry, or as a symbol representing the passion of those who do nails professionally. But apart from that, nail polish tattoos are synonymous with beauty, femininity, artistry, and confidence.

They can also represent the creativity that lives in all of us or the idea of taking something plain and beautifying it. For some, they might represent the feeling of taking care of yourself or pampering the body and spirit.

Nail polish tattoos can also symbolize wealth and good health. This is because the upper classes of society wore nail polish as a way to represent their wealth and status, and women who wore polish and makeup were thought to be healthy and clean.

Here are some of the things nail polish tattoos can symbolize:

  • Nail art or makeup as a profession or hobby
  • Beauty
  • Femininity
  • Artistry
  • Creativity
  • Confidence
  • Pampering yourself
  • Wealth
  • Good health
  • Cleanliness
  • Status

What Do Nail Polish Tattoos Mean?

Nail polish tattoos can mean many things, depending on the design that is chosen. They typically represent someone’s passion for nail art and design. They are also a frequent choice among people who enjoy the practice of applying makeup or beautification.

The great thing about nail polish tattoos is that the design can be customized to mean many different things. A bottle of nail polish can be depicted in different colors, black and white, glossy, or with a flat design. The colors chosen can even be specific to represent different aspects that someone wants to emphasize.

For instance, red and pink polish can represent love and passion. Yellow polish can represent happiness, joy, or lightness. Darker colors can represent a somber feel and may symbolize remembrance, sadness, or neutrality.

You could even choose bright, vibrant colors like purple or green to symbolize uniqueness, individuality, and creativity.


Where Do Nail Polish Tattoos Usually Go?

Another positive aspect of nail polish tattoos is that they can be fairly small in size and therefore will look amazing on nearly any body part. Or if you’re opting for a larger, more complex design, there are many choices of location on the body that will still look great.

For Women:

Popular tattoo placements for women who want a nail polish tattoo include the forearms, wrists, ankles, and shoulder blades. Smaller versions of this tattoo also look great when placed on hands, fingers, or even behind the ear.

For Men:

Gender roles and identity have expanded so that men can also enjoy the rituals involved with beauty and makeup application. Whether they wear makeup themselves or have a professional career as a makeup artist, a nail polish tattoo can also look great on a masculine body.

Popular locations for men would include upper arms, forearms, upper back, and the pectoral muscles. Men also look great with tattoos on the upper leg or calf area.


Characteristics and Styles of Nail Polish Tattoos

There are many stylistic choices you can make when choosing a nail polish tattoo. Some of the most popular design choices are listed below. The most important thing to remember when deciding what you want your tattoo to look like is that the design represents something special to you and that you enjoy it.

Tattoos are permanent and will be with you forever so take your time deciding on exactly what you want before getting inked. Here are some great ideas to get started with when deciding what your nail polish-inspired tattoo should look like:

  • An upright closed bottle of polish gets the point across without being overly complicated. Choose a color that matches your style or represents something meaningful.
  • A bottle of nail polish tipped over on its side so that the polish is spilling out is a unique design idea that can be easily customized to look any way you want. You could also have the polish splashing out the bottle in an artistic way, with the colors adding some beauty to the design.
  • Tattoo a nail polish bottle with the brush out for an extra layer of depth. This design choice allows creativity with the colors. Have the brush paint a word or something artistic and meaningful.
  • Multiple nail polish bottles allow for multiple color choices. Have one upright and one tipped over and spilling out.
  • Include a hand or finger being painted with nail polish for an amazing design idea that leaves room for lots of creativity.
  • Include other beauty aids, such as lipstick, scissors, or powder compacts. This is a great tattoo idea for people who are in the beauty profession and can represent the many facets of makeup application.
  • Add words or a design onto the nail polish bottle. The possibilities are endless here and you can put a personal touch on the tattoo this way.
  • Include flowers into the design or have the spilling polish look like the paint is forming the flower. This technique will also work with other designs, and the spilling polish could be painting any item, such as a heart, starts, or even a phrase.
  • Add a ribbon with words on it. This is a great way to customize a tattoo and add another layer of meaning. A favorite quote or inspirational word makes a great addition to any tattoo.
  • A simple, basic outline always looks great, whether it’s a single bottle of polish or several. This type of tattoo is especially powerful with done smaller and could be placed on a hand or finger.
  • Black and grey designs are a classic tattoo style. Even though nail polish itself comes in many shades and hues, a traditional black and grey design can still make a statement.
  • Add a design inside the nail polish bottle or make the design so that something is floating inside the bottle of nail polish. A heart, a flower, or a skull are some possibilities.


If you love painting your nails, spend a lot of time at the nail salon, or maybe even do nails professionally, then a nail polish tattoo could be a perfect choice! Inking something meaningful and symbolic of the things you love and care about can be the best reason to get a tattoo.

So, if you want a tattoo that represents beauty and grace, a nail polish tattoo might be in your future!

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