Jam-packed with A-list musical performances, legendary presenters, and some very well-deserved victories, June 28th’s BET Awards were just about as star-studded as an event could possibly be. But in this case, the celebrity beauty and fashion looks on the red carpet (and on-stage) rival even the buzziest moments from the show itself. That goes double for the best 2021 BET Awards nail looks, featuring some of the most glamourous manicures of the year — possibly even the decade.
From glossy monochrome polish to rhinestone-encrusted sets, the red carpet nails were all pitch-perfect with plenty of ideas to copy for your own upcoming manicures. Maybe you want to channel Andra Day’s vibrant pink manicure or Issa Rae’s white chromatic digits. Or maybe you prefer full glam and want to copy Saweetie’s red bedazzled nails or Cardi B’s diamond-clad look (which went great with her newly debuted baby bump!). No look was off limits — there was literally a little inspo for everyone last night.
To prove it, we’re rounding up the best nails of the night, complete with an inside look at what actually went into many of the creations, straight from the nail designers themselves. Take notes for your next manicure appointment!
It was a huge night for Andra Day, who took home the evening’s top “Best Actress” honor for The United States vs. Billie Holiday and her portrayal of the titular legend. Dressed in a petal-pink Rosie Assoulin gown that complemented her cascading, cinnamon brown twists (and hidden jewels at her hairline!). But her bright pink nails, a warm summery shade of strawberry decorated with gold flecks and cross detailing on her ring fingers, really draw the eye. Created by celebrity nail artist Jolene Brodeur, the manicure was made with a set of OPI products including lacquer shade Strawberry Margarita (Kerry Washington is a huge fan, too), OPI ProSpa Protective Hand & Nail & Cuticle Cream, and OPI ProSpa Nail & Cuticle Oil.
She writes, directs, acts, hosts, and consistently pulls of the chicest red carpet looks of all time — in other words, there’s not a lot Issa Rae can’t do. The BET Awards were certainly no exception, with Rae turning up in a metallic white tuxedo dress, bouncy ponytail, and an absolutely luminous chrome-white manicure. Nail artist Eri Ishizu, who works often with Rae and other stars like Lizzo and Jennifer Lopez, used OPI’s Tinsel Tinsel Lil Star lacquer to lay down the bright color before topping the manicure with an OPI Top Coat for maximum shine.
Megan Thee Stallion
Draped in a gossamer-delicate, cream-colored goddess gown by Gaultier (featuring the signature coned bust, naturally), Megan Thee Stallion perfectly straddles sexy glamour and timeless elegance. The theme continues with her nails, which were styled in classic coffin-shaped French tips adorned with midnight blue polish accents at the bed down the nail length. From there, nail artist Coca Michelle carefully placed two tiny rhinestones per nail for added light-catching radiance. And if you thought the nails looked gorgeous on the carpet, they looked even better wrapped around Meg’s four awards from the evening.
Taraji P. Henson
The multitalented Taraji P. Henson was tasked with the biggest responsibility of the night: hosting the show. Of course, in true Henson fashion, she made maintaining the energy, momentum, and order of the show look effortless. To accommodate her series of costume changes, nail artist Temeka Jackson kept Henson’s manicure neutral but never once veered towards anything resembling basic. A constellation of gleaming gold rhinestones, flakes, crystals, and polish snake up the tips of Henson’s nails in what might be the most glamorous take on a French manicure ever. Meanwhile, on her toes, Jackson layered on some hyper-feminine pink gel polish by Tammy Taylor in shade 100% Spoiled before decorating with some of the same gold Swarovski crystals used on the fingers.
Taking the stage in a ruby red, jewel-encrusted knockout of a gown, Saweetie and her fiery (yet icy) look instantly became one of the most talked-about appearances of the night. Matching red, rhinestone-speckled nails commanded just as much attention, particularly against the backdrop of Saweetie’s high-swept ballerina bun and gleaming décolletage. The ultra-glam set was also the work of Temeka Jackson, one of the most in-demand nail artists in Hollywood who also routinely works with stars like Alicia Keys and Willow Smith. The best part? This was her second outfit change of the night — nails included.
In what instantly became one of the most talked-about award show moments ever, Cardi B revealed her advanced pregnancy onstage as she performed in a jeweled bodysuit complete with mesh cutout for her growing bump. Such a massive reveal (and major costume) naturally required a full-out glamorous manicure look to match. Cardi showed off long, pointed, glossy black nails covered in artfully arranged crystals that caught the light and played off her show-stopping costume.
Taking home arguably the most coveted award of the night, the pinnacle Lifetime Achievement Awards, Queen Latifah looked downright regal as she posed on the red carpet and accepted her well-deserved award. Against her structured, caped tuxedo, she wore a short, square set of black, white, and gold nails in a variety of finishes and decorations. Matte, glossy, monochrome, bejeweled, and multicolored, each nail features a different design than its neighbors for a playful yet elegant look.