I Tried “Lip Gloss” Nails — Here’s What To Ask For

I have to admit: When I first saw headlines about 'lip gloss' nails, I rolled my eyes a little bit — but I also clicked, which tells you I was curious. I like lip gloss and fun nail art — but do I want lip gloss on my fingernails? Well, definitely not literally. That would be a sticky mess.
Quickly scrolling through the imagery I came to the conclusion that the "lip gloss" manicure is like a baby sister to the beloved Hailey Bieber-endorsed glazed doughnut manicure, which involves chrome powder dusted over your nail polish to make it shimmery and extra reflective. Lip gloss nails follow the same general protocol, but they're a little different.

What are lip gloss nails?

Where this style is a little bit different from glazed doughnut nails are in the specifications: the base polish color has to be your true nude, the chrome powder must be white, and the top coat should be thicker so the finish is translucent and almost jelly-like (kinda like a clear lip gloss).
Pinterest is my favorite place to find nail art inspiration. (I find the search function is better than search through hashtags on Instagram, and the photos are generally a little bit artsier, with a cool aesthetic.) I found my lip gloss inspiration in the image above and brought it to my nail artist Sao at Vanity Projects Salon in New York City. "Okay, so we'll do a chrome," she declared. "But make it sheer, more subtle." Exactly what I wanted, a variation on a chrome that doesn't read as chrome.

How do I get lip gloss nails?

For my manicure we started with filing and shaping. Sao cut my nails down a bit as they had grown out under my previous gel manicure (velvet nails), and I don't like my natural nails too long. For shape, we did a rounded, slightly almond curvature. For the polish color, Sao used a Japanese gel in a sheer beige-pink shade, which matched my skin tone pretty exactly.
For the painting process, this follows a traditional gel manicure service, with all ten fingers painted and cured. At this point, my nails looked good, but completely bare. Then, the chrome dust. Sao was clear that the powder should be white; we used Magic White Chrome from Daily Charm which Sao applied using a small spongey brush (it looks a little bit like those brushes you sometimes get in an eyeshadow palette).
The final step is the top coat, and here's where you'll really get the glossy finish. We used a thick jelly top coat — also a Japanese gel that comes in a pot — which Sao applied on my nails with a brush. Bonus: Sao says that a thick top coat not only gives the nails a little plumpness and glossy shine, but it will make the manicure stronger. "It should last longer," she explains. You could also use a BIAB (builder in a bottle) or a Plexigel to add plumpness.

How much does a lip gloss manicure cost?

Cost will depend on factors like where you live and what your salon charges. At Vanity Projects, chrome powder is considered 'simple gel nail art' on par with a French manicure (it takes about the same amount of time; mine was an hour and a half total). My price was $100 before tip.

Can I get lip gloss nails at home?

Totally! I got a gel manicure in a salon because it lasts longer than a traditional polish and I don't have a professional system at home. But, you can totally recreate the general idea on your own. On social, we've seen a lot of lip-gloss style nails recently.
Celebrity Nail Artist Tom Bachik recently posted this photo of J.Lo's nails in a style that he calls "lip gloss nails with a glitter liner." Bachik used the Aprés Gel-X Box Tips in Maisie with a custom-mixed nude nail polish "just for Mrs. Affleck" painted over top. He added a glitter tip for a little extra sparkle. The takeaway: find your perfect nude in a high-shine formula and add sparkle.
You could do a DIY 'frosted gloss' style, like this manicure posted by The Mani Club. You would use a double coat of Frosted Gloss by Olive & June with a clear top coat, like Essie's Gel Couture one.
If you're looking to get more of that milky jellied effect — without any chrome at all — you could consider a semi-sheer polish with a hint of milkiness, like GelCare's Lavender Water, which has a subtle milky purple underdone and all of that sheer glossiness. You would need an LED lamp for this one because the gel has to cure, as is the case with most jelly polishes. But if you have one at home, you're golden. If not, you could try two coats of Dior Nail Glow.
The trend is about staying in the neutral tones, like pinks and sheer beige or brown shades. But, we've even seen people add a jelly gloss over a bright-red velvet manicure to get that lip gloss like finish. This would be like the nail version of the trending glitter lipstick.
@vwnails_ gg holiday episodes hits diff 🎄 and also red velvet nails ❤️ >>>> video ib @yodeebs layering technique from @sansungnails #rednails #velvetnails #cateyenails #glitternails #holidaynails #christmasnails ♬ original sound - 𝑵𝑨𝑻𝑪𝑺𝑳𝑼𝑽𝑹❦
Like the glazed doughnut manicure, lip gloss nails are really just a fun way to market an extra-glossy manicure. You can have yours sheer, tinted, or with some shimmer. I wasn't calling my nails the glazed doughnut trend, but as I was walking out and showing my finished nails to another artists, they said: "Oh, you got the Hailey Bieber thing." C'est la vie.
This story was originally published on December 15, 2022 and updated with relevant information.

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