I Got A ‘Glass’ Manicure — The Next Wave Of Chrome

When I saw an email subject line that read, 'glass nails are trending', I was a little confused. I've heard of seaglass nail art: when you use a greenish-turquoise polish, thin it out, and add a matte top coat, making the nails look like pieces of seaglass washed up on the beach. But the with just glass, I wasn't sure how to envision it translating. The concept involves making your nails look like a piece of glass, or stained glass, that has been fractured, creating teeny-tiny cracks. I suppose 'shattered glass' nails might be more accurate.
The technique is thought to have originated in Korea. Nail artist Park Eunkyung recently posted a very avant-garde glass manicure on Instagram — and it inspired others to consider different variations on the look. According to Pinterest, searches for 'glass manicure' are up 170%. So to better understand why, I did some Pinterest browsing, before quickly deciding I wanted to try a glass manicure myself.

What is a glass manicure?

The nail art involves applying shards of foil to the nails, giving an illusion of shattered glass. Foils don't work with regular polish, so a glass manicure should involve gel. Most commonly, you'll see a glass manicure with a clear or neutral base colour and then chrome foils over the top. Chrome, or, what Zoey — a nail artist at Vanity Projects — calls "aurora" foils for their reflective quality like the Northern Lights, shine different colours when the light hits.

How do you get a glass manicure?

The process is similar to a traditional gel manicure. It starts with shaping and filing the nail, then removing any polish left over from your last manicure. For shape, we cut some length and went for a short, rounded tip, which gave my nails a similar look to my Pinterest inspiration photo featured above. Then we did a bare-pink neutral gel base. Vanity Projects uses Japanese gel, which comes in a pot as opposed to a bottle, and is applied to the nails with a small artist brush. Then, the base gel cures.
The 'glass' effect comes from the foils. Vanity Projects carries Clou Professional Nail Film, which the artists at the salon cut up into teeny-tiny triangles for nail art. Zoey used a clear gel to create a tacky base for the foils to adhere to, and then she used a tweezer to apply the foil flecks to the nail. It's like a mosaic. Then, another round of curing, and a top coat to seal the foil into the gel.

How much does a glass manicure cost?

The pricing of a glass manicure will differ depending on your nail salon or artist. It will likely be priced as a gel manicure, plus the cost for art. At Vanity Projects, any manicure which uses foils is considered 'Middle Tier' art and is priced to reflect that. Also of note: wherever you go, this manicure will take longer than your average gel appointment, due to the individual application of the foil pieces on each nail. My appointment ran just north of an hour — and Zoey is fast.
A close-up of my 'glass' gel manicure from Vanity Projects.

Can I get a glass manicure at home?

If you want a glass or shattered glass nail look without a salon appointment, you can try a press-on option. I prefer a colourless base with the encapsulated foils because the art is actually pretty neutral. My nails look shiny and reflective, but not overtly chrome or glittered. That said, I've had the manicure for a few days and have already received many compliments, mostly from friends bringing my hand closer to get a better look under the light.

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