Blooming Gel Is The Nail Trend You’re About To See Everywhere

Nail trends come and go quicker than we can keep up with. Some have a short shelf life (duck nails or bubble nails, for example) but others pop up on our timelines over and over again, establishing themselves as timeless salon classics, like the French or the half moon manicure. It seems that the trends we’re most intrigued by, though, are the ones we can’t quite wrap our heads around.
Case in point: blooming gel. 

What is blooming gel? 

Blooming gel isn't new by any means but it's starting to get the attention it deserves, mostly thanks to a handful of salons now offering it as part of their nail art repertoire. Blooming gel pretty much does what it says on the bottle: an unassuming, clear gel polish, it's painted over the nail and lends a blooming effect to any gel nail art design.
Although the effects of blooming gel are intricate, the premise of it is simple. "Blooming gel is simply a translucent gel formula similar to that of a base coat, which causes any colour added over the top to bloom," says Zahra Beedassy, creative nail expert and founder of Plaster salon in the UK. 
The most prominent brand that offers blooming gel is cult favourite The Gel Bottle but the product has grown in popularity within the last year, says Zahra. "The Gel Bottle is my blooming gel of choice because it's consistent and you can create really intricate nail art with it." Plus, it's vegan and cruelty-free.

How does blooming gel work? 

Blooming gel is a little different from a lot of other gel polishes as you don't cure it during the design process. Instead, says Zahra, you paint a layer of blooming gel onto the nail, draw on your design while it's still wet, then wait for the design to bloom. "Depending on your desired effect, the longer you leave it to bloom, the more faded the edges will be," says Zahra. "This can take between 30-60+ seconds."
While the colours are still wet, they can be manipulated to create all sorts of designs. You can even drop multiple colours into each other and melt colours together to create a marble effect. 

Can I have blooming gel with normal nail polish? 

Unfortunately, blooming gel is a curing-only formula. Having said that, if you want to try a similar effect with normal nail polish, you can use a base coat and work quickly with colour before the paint dries to get that diffused look. This doesn't impart as impactful a finish and most likely won't be uniform on each nail. You also run the risk of using too much polish, which could take forever to dry. 
That's why this trend is best left for the pros at your favourite nail salon. If you're not sure whether they do blooming gel, it's worth asking. If there's demand, they might end up stocking it for others to try, too. 

What are some blooming gel nail art trends?

There's one major nail trend that's doing the rounds thanks to blooming gel and that's crocodile nails, sometimes referred to as tortoiseshell nails or snake print nails (depending on the shades and size created). 
Although it looks complex, blooming gel's nifty formula makes it pretty easy to achieve. Once a base shade has been painted and cured, your nail tech will carefully apply the clear blooming gel over the top. Before curing, they'll start to create the croc shape (typically in a lighter shade than the base coat colour) using a small brush. You'll soon see that the small, painted-on lines will disperse into splodgier shapes, which then form a crocodile or snake print design. The nails are cured and a super shiny top coat is added. Take inspo from this design by Gelly Bean Nails on Instagram, or this one by Lord of The Nails_.
Then there's aura nails. Zahra explains that the aura trend is like mood rings for your nails: it's all about expressing our emotions and the aura that surrounds us. "Although aura nails have been around for a while, it doesn’t seem to have really hit the mainstream salons just yet," she says, noting that the trend is predicted to really take off in 2023. 
"The colours picked are often determined by the colours of our own aura but you can also use any colour you're feeling at the time," says Zahra. Over a layer of wet blooming gel and using a dotting tool, Zahra usually places a large or small (depending on what you fancy) blob of colour onto the nail, which then spreads out to form a gradient effect. "Layering multiple colours can make for some really bold designs," Zahra adds. 
Galaxy nails are also trending again but this time the design has had a revamp. Blooming gel is a great tool to use to get the abstract swoosh effects of outer space, like this design by Sass Nails on Instagram. For a galaxy effect, Zahra likes to combine blooming gel with The Gel Bottle's 'glass' colours, which are slightly more translucent than regular gel polish and work excellently when blended. 
"Over a layer of blue glass, I blend white on a coat of blooming gel to create a marble sky effect," says Zahra. "Then I cure it and add another layer of blue glass," she explains. "You then have the option to add a chrome design or iridescent overlay to add to the galaxy vibe." This design can be adapted to create a fairy-inspired or ethereal look, too. 
Zahra predicts we're going to see a shift away from the minimalist nail art that has been dominating our For You Pages towards maximalist and experimental looks with various shades and textures. One popular trend is the psychedelic nail, like this design by Gel Box Nails on Instagram. "The psychedelic nail can be achieved by combining various techniques," Zahra says.
Often vibrant hues are preferred to create various splodges and bloom effects using blooming gel as the base. From there, chrome powders are used over some sections of the nail to create a holographic or iridescent effect, and finally gem embellishments or textured dots, created using Builder in a Bottle. This is a design for those in the more is more camp. 
Like normal gels, blooming gel lasts up to four weeks. The best part about it, though? While prices may vary from salon to salon, you can incorporate it into practically any design, including smoke nails (like these by The Gel Bottle ambassador By Shelley) and even cannabis nails, like this design by Hard As Nails Studio on Instagram. Expect to see the trend taking your timeline by storm in the next few months.
Want more? Get Refinery29 Australia’s best stories delivered to your inbox each week. Sign up here!

More from Nails