The latest trend in nail art is all about dimension. We're seeing these nature-inspired forms — think, rain droplets and melting candle wax — built on top of the fingernails. Both artists and trend experts are clocking the trend towards 3D nail art, calling it "organic" and almost "amorphous" in shape.
Sojin Oh is a nail artist who has made lifelike nail art her M.O., creating custom designs, like "amoeba nails" for Euphoria's Hunter Schafer and jellied "koi fish nails" for Normani. According to Oh, her clients come to her specifically for her 3D gels. "Ninety percent of my clients come to me to do 3D," Oh explains. "I think people are starting to realise [3D art] is not as intimidating as it seems. [The art looks] more like little sculptures on your hands, rather than just polished nails."
As someone who has never done a sculptural nail design beyond gel "plumping" — my question to Oh is basic: How does it work? Oh tells me that that process usually involves a clear building gel, similar to CND's Plexigel, or glass materials. "I sculpt with clear building gel or use glass materials I get custom made by my artist friend Grace Wardlaw," Oh explains. To create droplets and more intricate shapes, she'll use specific tools. "I use toothpicks and dotting pens," she says. "Sometimes, I'll use melted plastics to be more eco-conscious."
Beyond Oh, many more artists have been experimenting with 3D art. Betina Goldstein recently posted a photo of these 3D gold "lunettes" hovering off a naked nail. Natalie Minerva, the artist behind the nails on Euphoria, recently created a "space abalone" design with thick gels, as well as Cassie-inspired manicure in collaboration with ManiMe: baby pink with raised 3D glitter dots down the middle. These are more minimalist than Oh's glass creations, but still, a step beyond simple polish. "I think people are being more exploratory with nail art in general," Minerva offers. "In my early years, I was really trying to push boundaries and I don't think people got it. It's not like you keep them forever. You keep [the art] on for two to three weeks — express yourself. It's like a tattoo, but it's not permanent."
According to Brooke DeVard Ozaydinli, a Creator Marketing lead at Instagram, "chunky nail art" is a huge trend happening for spring. "We're going beyond 2D nail art and getting into really chunky, 3D designs," Ozaydinli explains. "It really elevates the idea of a manicure; it's like a piece of art on its own. They're very eye-catching. These nail artists who are finding new materials are really pushing the trend forward."
Of course, you can try a single gemstone or pearl nail art. But your next step might be something more blob-like and naturalistic, which seems to be where the trend is heading.