I Spent An Hour With Beyoncé's Nail Artist & Learned So Much

From Lady Gaga to Beyoncé (and Jay-Z, too), professional manicurist Miho Okawara has tended to the nails of some of the biggest celebrities in the world. Famous for her innovative trends using beads, wire, chains and more, it's safe to say she knows a thing or two about what makes nail art Instagram-worthy. Ahead, she lets us in on her smartest tips and tricks and unveils the biggest nail crazes to look out for this summer.

The Trends

Neon Cow Print
We've had calligraphy nails, tie-dye nails and tortoiseshell nails, but according to Miho, there are heaps of new, original styles on the horizon this year. Thanks to celebrities like Kendall Jenner, cow print nails are huge at the moment, but Miho has seen a movement away from traditional black and white. Now, clients are requesting the print in bold neon hues. "Brighter colours and bold prints like this look better on shorter nails," she said. "But if you find it difficult to do nail art on shorter nails, just opt for a simple colour block; half a colour on one side of the nail and a different shade on the other side."
3D Resin Nails
"3D nails are getting bigger and better," said Miho, and her latest creations are proof. She has recently created 'resin' or 'brooch' nails by sticking pictures onto the nail and applying layer after layer of clear gel on top. The finished result looks as though the picture is framed or embedded in resin or enamel.
Geode Nails With A Twist
Similar to resin nails, Miho applies a colourful sticker to the nail and coats it in a veneer of gel so that the end result resembles gemstone or crystal. She mentioned that this is a much better option than using nail glue to stick on real gemstones, as this could damage the nail bed and the stones are likely to fall off after a few days of wear.

The Tricks

How to do difficult nail art at home
If you’re planning on doing an accent nail, the best way to reduce smudges or mistakes is to keep alternating, says Miho, instead of focusing on one nail at a time. "Mirror each step immediately after the other. For example, if you’re doing cow print nails, draw a splodge on one nail and then swiftly move on to the next nail so that the paint has a chance to dry." This is especially useful if you are using many different colours, because they may easily run into each other when wet. "Another trick is to dot some polish onto a piece of foil and dip in a cuticle striping brush to then draw your shapes. This is much easier than creating art with the nail polish brush or other tools. When I'm not using gels, I choose fast-drying colours like Essie."
How to paint your nails like a pro
"When painting nails, I always employ the three-step method, as it’s the most foolproof way," said Miho. "Apply one stripe of colour down the middle and then one on either side to join everything up. This is fast and will reduce streaks."
How to clean up smudges in seconds
If you’ve smudged your nail, don’t go over it with polish, as this will only make it thicker. Instead, Miho suggested a little dab of nail polish remover on your forefinger and gently tapping the smudge. Do this very lightly and the smudge should rectify itself. "Whatever you do," added Miho, "don’t rub!"
To clean up mistakes on the skin, simply soak a small eye makeup brush in remover and swipe it on until the polish disappears.
Always apply two layers of polish
"If you only apply one coat, your nails are more likely to chip," explained Miho. Not only will two coats ensure your colour sticks around for longer, but it provides you with the true shade with minimal streaks.
Base coat and top coat shouldn't be interchangeable
"If you miss out the base coat, your nails are at risk of becoming stained by polish," said Miho, who suggests painting the tip and underside of the nail to make chips less likely. She mentioned that it's also important to distinguish between the two polishes. "A base coat is never shiny. If you want that patent finish, only a topcoat will provide you with that. If you apply a top coat as a base coat, it won’t stick to the nail and your colour will flake much more easily." And try to apply only one layer of top coat. "Otherwise, you make the polish too thick and it could come off faster."

More from Beauty

R29 Original Series