At Refinery29 Australia, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team, but we may earn commission or other compensation from the links on this page.
In the best way possible, manicure trends have a habit of being cyclical. For example, we've explored just about every likely iteration of the Y2K French manicure; in the last year alone we've been introduced to the 'modern French', the 'French fade', the 'milky French' and the 'micro French' manicures respectively.
The latest manicure trend — sea glass nails — has a similar story, originating in 2019 as a matte version of 2018's jelly nails trend. The enthusiasm of The Little Mermaid fever has given us the mermaid manicure (which was popular in the summer in the lead-up to the release of the highly-anticipated Disney film). Plus, it's managed to resurrect the sea glass nail trend from its watery grave and allowed it to emerge anew as the winter nail trend to try. Thanks, Halle Bailey!
Celebrity nail artist Coca Michelle has already tried her hand at the trend, designing an interpretation of the sea glass nail trend on the square-cut talons of her longstanding client, Megan The Stallion. Michelle has yet to share a close-up look at her handiwork on her personal Instagram account, but Megan gave fans her best hand model energy in a cooking video she shared via Instagram this week. She flashed fingers painted in sea foam blue polish as she wildly articulated her hands, dipped the tips of her nails into a jar to retrieve pickle slices, and beat the living crap out of a bag of flaming hot Cheetos. It was amazing.
What Are Sea Glass Nails?
When the sea glass nail trend first landed on the scene in 2019, Refinery29 sat down with the trend's originator, nail artist Jessica Washick. According to Washick, the sea glass nail trend was born out of a desire to create a matte take on the jelly nails trend. "I was reminiscing about how fun the jelly-nail craze was, and I wondered how that aesthetic could translate into the colder months, and the vision of opaque sea glass came to mind," she told R29.
If you've ever strolled down literally any beach anywhere then you'll know firsthand that sea glass comes in a myriad of shades but "a fun lime green or a deep royal blue" works best for this nail look, says Washick.
How To Create Sea Glass Nails
"To get the clear opacity in your base, combine your coloured nail polish with a clear top coat to give it a more viscous finish," says Washick. Apply this mixture to your nails and let it dry or cure with a UV lamp if you're using gel polish — "that's your jelly manicure base".
Follow up with a layer of clear top coat, dry or cure it (depending on whether you use a traditional polish or gel polish, respectively), and then apply a layer of matte top coat over that. According to Washick, this is the most important step; "the two top coats layered over the jelly base diffuse the colour, pick up the white undertones, and make the finish extra frosty."
However, in the past four years since Washick created the sea glass trend, the way we do our nails has understandably changed a lot. As a result, the manicure has been remixed a few dozen times to reflect the modern details that we've come to know, love and request from our own nail artists.
3D Sea Glass Nails
Brooklyn-based nail artist and content creator @borablueprint has over 1.3 million views on her sea glass nails tutorial video on TikTok. While she uses a similar method to Washick to create her bespoke base colour and matte finish, she uses a few specialty techniques to create a 3D effect. Using a thin detail brush, she paints a border around the perimeters of her nail beds using a clear gel. Finally, she pops a small dab of nail glue to the centre of her nail to adhere raindrop gems on every other finger.
@borablueprint sweet n simple🦭 ~ everything used ~ • cant find the milky blue color anywhere online 😭 sorry • matte topcoat - Gelcare • thick clear gel - Jin.B crazy top in thick (sweetie nail supply) • rhinestone glue - Amazn • gems - Amazn • liner brush - Gelcare • gem picker - Amazn #shortnailinspo #3dnailart #diygelnails ♬ Liquorice - Biig Piig
Ombre Sea Glass Nails
Nail artist and content creator @lolo.nailedit uses jelly nail polish in green and blue shades to create an ombre sea glass effect. Starting from the centre of the nail bed, she applies a few strokes of green polish to the left half of her nail, and blue polish to the right-hand side of her nail. She repeats this layered ombre technique twice and tops it all off with a matte top coat to finish.
We'd recommend drying or curing the polish after you apply each layer of colour, as this will prevent the colours from turning into one uniform blue-green shade and stop the polish from smudging, dripping or bubbling.
@cirquecolors how to create seaglass nails 🤩💚💙 by @lolo.nailedit (she/her) #seaglass #beachvibes #beach #beachday #seaglasshunting #jellynails #jellynailstutorial #fyp #cirquecolors #nailinspo #nails #nailpolish #pinterestnails #nailswatches #nailsathome #diynails #naturalnails #nailarttutorial #nailtiktok #pinterestinspo ♬ Sound for fine ppl - Sorry6ixx 🧡🐋