You probably know yourself like the back of your hand, but why not give the rest of us a feel for who you are? New techniques in nail art have taken self-expression to a whole new level. With the help of The Beauty Factory owner and nail tech Stephanie Bowen, we’ve assembled a killer collection guaranteed to keep those fingers lookin’ fancy whether you’re classy, sassy or fall somewhere in between.
Seen prominently on the runways at New York Fashion Week last fall, the barely-there look, or “the ultimate lazy girl manicure” as coined by celebrity manicurist Jin Soon Choi, can be achieved by either applying a single coat of sheer neutral color or opting for a couple coats of an opaque flesh-toned polish. These nails are appropriate for any outfit or occasion, and are least likely to show signs of chipping/wear.
While a classic French tip never goes out of style, white lacquer has been getting a bit of a makeover. Bowen suggests going full white with an accent nail using white lines as a decorative element. Accent nails can be created either by a steady hand using polish pens, with appliques or by using patterned acrylics.
This new type of nail polish goes against the glossy grain of its more traditional predecessor and is great because it can either read subdued or modern, depending on how it’s applied. Try starting with a shiny lacquer base, let it dry, and then create a matte design on top. Or use the matte as your base and coat with large-flecked glitter or glue on studs. The contrasting finishes are unexpected and eye-catching. Remember to omit the topcoat to maintain the matte effect.
Classy and flashy, chrome polish commands attention, either as an all-over color, an alternative to a French or nail bed tip, or intricate design. Chrome polish tends to have a more metallic finish, whereas false nails and appliques allow for a true mirror effect.
For some serious tactile drama, incorporate some texture in your next manicure. You can go the quick and easy route and use a textured polish, or try your hand at something more custom. Layer drops or drizzles of paint on top of a base color. Glue on rhinestones, studs or other small embellishments. Or think way outside the box (or perhaps inside your crafting case) for other pretty bits to add to the look. (See NailPro.com for some pretty sweet tutorials.)
“Shaped nails are in!” Bowen insisted. “Stiletto, coffin and almond shapes are most popular right now. It’s not just about the square anymore.” Due to the severe contours of these new trendy tips, they are done mostly with acrylics.
But where should one go to get these amazing creations? With so many nail salons to choose from, Ministy Holifield, instructor at Rudae’s School of Beauty Culture, encourages every girl to educate herself prior to making a selection. “Make sure they are sanitizing their implements properly and that they can deliver what you are looking for,” said Holifield. “The salon should make the client feel at home, so look for a comfortable, clean, well-lit environment. A friendly staff is always important.”
Thinking of doing a little DIY? While Holifield, like many women, will admit a home manicure won’t usually stack up to a salon job, it can be a lot less costly, not to mention fun to do either alone or with friends. We’ll cover the basics, but don’t be afraid to Google a few nail art tutorials and experiment!
- File and shape each nail.
- Apply lotion or rich hand cream.
- Soak nails in warm, soapy water for five minutes.
- Push back cuticles with a wet nail stone. Note: Only trim hangnails—clipping cuticles can lead to infection.
- Apply a basecoat.
- Brush on two coats of color. For each coat, use one swipe on either side of the nail and then one across the top to prevent chipping. Note: Paint nails on the dominant hand first, and start pinkie side to avoid smudging.
- Apply a topcoat using the same method outlined in step 6.
- Clean any stray color around nail edges with a Q-tip dipped in polish remover.
Bowen’s most trusted brands: Orly, OPI, Essie and China Glaze (all available at Ulta and Ulta.com).