When you step into your favorite nail salon — or break out your own decades-in-the-making stash of lacquers — and you're suddenly hit with 1,463 polish options, it’s easy to just go with the expected: anything bright for summer, burnt oranges and burgundy for fall, or glitter for the holidays. Sure, we might try a geometric nail, as seen all over the runways last season, or a colorful French mani plucked from our social feeds, but more often than not, trying out a new design can be intimidating.
Instead of turning to our phones as our primary source of beauty inspo, we partnered with Target Beauty and paired two nail-art-obsessed Gen Z’ers with manicurist Naomi Yasuda to dream up actual nail art based on something more personal: their own unique senses of style. Enter: Cindy, a color lover (just check out that hair if you need proof), and Kalysse, a self-proclaimed #minimalist inspired by the 1980s. These two New York locals and IRL friends bond over their never-to-be-missed monthly manis, the latest and greatest in sneaker culture, and ofc, the unique spin they put on everything from their hair color to their accessories to their — you guessed it — nails. So go ahead, scroll on to see how these ladies leverage their nails as the ultimate form of self-expression. Then, follow each four-step tutorial to try said designs at home. We dare you.
As someone who's been experimenting with nail art since elementary school, Cindy isn't afraid to stand out. "Many of my friends at the time weren't allowed to paint their nails, but my mom let that be my creative outlet," she says. Now, she describes herself — and her personal style — as spontaneous and fun, which inspired this modern look using primary hues and KISS Jewel Accents. "I love the randomness of all the colors, polish placement, and decal shapes," says Cindy. "I'm very much the person who just likes to go with the flow. When creating this look, that's exactly what you have to do because each nail is going to be very different."
Quote: "I love playing with decals and different designs — it reminds me of pop art."
For Kalysse, nails are the ultimate accessory. "My wardrobe is mostly on the neutral side, but adding a pop of color via a cool pair of sneakers, a statement bag, or freshly painted nails is the cherry on top of any outfit. When I have my nails done, I always feel ultra-feminine and electric," she says. Her '80s-inspired look was created using a mix of polish and Sally Hansen Nail Art Pens. "I'm really into art, and these tips are almost like my own mini masterpieces," Kalysse says. "Plus, the waves perfectly match my personality: They're complex with lots of different layers to them."
Quote: "Nails are just like your smile — they're one of the first things people notice about you."