Like with most major beauty trends, the so-called nail art bubble hit fast and hard, followed by years of armchair analysis about when the trend would be declared officially dead. The truth? That nail art bubble didn’t exist; The artform is here to stay, as evidenced by a continuum of creativity kicked out by the top nail artists in the game.
With veterans like Madeline Poole turning the page with unexpected color combinations, fresh talent like Cassandre Marie breathing new life into negative space manis, and innovators like Betina Goldstein and Park Eun Kyung bringing chains, pearls, and nail jewelry (custom created, btw) to digits, there’s no better time to add a little something — anything — to a plain-polish mani.
Get inspired with some of the most creative forces in the field, ahead.
What To Expect: Minimal designs that run the gamut from politically inspired to designer driven, with plenty of riffs on current fashion collections (particularly for Gucci Gang devotees). Kate Hudson has LA-based nail artist Hang Nguyen on speed dial, and it’s easy to see why.
Junie Bee Nails Salon @juniebeenails
What To Expect: Teyana Taylor’s Harlem-based salon specializes in extra-long acrylic designs. The of-the-moment sets, include everything from minimal graphic looks to maximal mixed-media designs.
What To Expect: The sickest color combinations on fingertips. Madeline Poole isn’t just an OG in the nail community — she’s served as Global Color Ambassador for Sally Hansen since 2014 — she’s also a master of hue. It’s as if she took lessons directly from Albert Munsell’s color theory and applied them to sick-ass manis.
What To Expect: Soft and feminine designs rule nail artist Cassandre Marie’s universe — and one scroll through her feed shows it’s a lovely place to be. The Seattle-based pro specializes in a clean aesthetic and geometric designs that feel both of-the-moment and timeless.
What To Expect: Miss Pop lives up to her name with brightly-colored manicures that regularly grace the color-drunk runways of Moschino. As of late, she’s taken her signature dose of fun past the nails, creating hand art that extends down the fingers.
What To Expect: Nail art painted on short nails can be tricky because too elaborate designs can crowd shorter nails. Celebrity manicurist Betina Goldstein makes out-of-the-box manis done on short nails look elegant, thanks to smart use of negative space and the introduction of pearls, chains, and manicure rings (which she creates herself and will soon sell under the name DoubleMoss Jewelry). No wonder celebs like Zoë Kravitz and Dakota Johnson are fans.
What To Expect: A taste of the runway spun from Gucci bags and Prada looks and delivered in the most attainable way. New York-based manicurist Alicia Torello employs expert color blocking and strategic use of metallic accents to further seal the deal. When our single-shade manis start to feel meh, Torello’s feed serves as the perfect antidote.
Park Eun Kyung@nail_unistella
What To Expect: Even the most perfect of polish jobs can feel half baked next to the 3-D creations by Park Eun Kyung, a South Korea-based nail artist who helped bring glass, wire, and LED manicures to the forefront. More recent creations use brightly-colored sugar, pearls, and plenty of nail jewelry to make otherwise minimal manis pop.
Bianca “Beedy” Williams@beedy_the_black_nail_tech
What To Expect: If Missy Elliot can do no wrong (and let’s face it: stylistically, she can’t), then the same goes for her nail artist. The Atlanta-based talent not only creates legendary looks for Ms. Missy, but has done the same for the stars of show Claws. She’s known for her multi-textural and multimedia designs.
Nail Swag Salon@nail_swag
What To Expect: Trippy holographic, watercolor, and glow-in-the-dark designs created by the pros at Ariana Grande’s go-to nail salon in downtown LA. They’re something out of Alice in Wonderland (or the “God Is A Woman ” video) — and when it comes to the people who brought us tarot nails, we wouldn’t expect anything less.
What To Expect: Hand-painted designs that are intricate, but not fussy. You can tell that UK nail artist Sophie Harris-Greenslade studied illustration in college. The styles range from classic patterns (florals, plaids) to gem-covered creations, and we’ve been pining for our own The Illustrated Nail mani since MIA wore Harris-Greenslade’s creations back in 2011. Now, we don’t need a transatlantic ticket make that happen: the manicurist has just launched a faux nail range with Boots.
What To Expect: Jewel-toned squares stacked on transparent tips made to resemble the Saturday Night Fever dance floor. Full sets that don’t repeat a single pattern. Statement nails painted with perfect typography. New York-based nail artist Mei Kawajiri never settles for what’s been done, which is why you find her fresh designs on the fingers of a range of cool-kid celebs, from Justine Skye to Bella Hadid to Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness.
What To Expect: Jewel-encrusted creations painted in rich shades. Nothing says wealth — as in “I have a staff that does stuff like open soda cans for me” wealth — like the creations coming from New York’s Jenny Bui. For more-is-more mani inspo, what better feed to stalk than that of the nail artist who turns out Cardi B.’s famous talons?
Olive & June Salon@oliveandjune
What To Expect: Nail art for everyone from gaming geeks to marathoners. Among our favorites frequently found on the Olive & June feed? Designs inspired by frequently used emojis, like lightning bolts, hearts, and teeny rainbows, which are cute enough to make us want to book a standing weekly appointment (or at least add the salon’s own nail art stickers to cart).
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Read more: refinery29.com