Why Textured Nails Are Dominating On Runways, At Home, & Beyond


It takes an expert-level of skill to paint artwork on nails. Let's be real, most can't even paint their fingers with their non-dominant hand. However, textured nails are making it just as easy to create artwork without having to be Picasso. And while the style isn't necessarily new, the continued desire for nail art that can be created at home has left the trend more in-demand than ever before.

"With all that’s happening in the world, I find myself constantly seeking new and exciting things to try," Winnie Huang, CND Brand Ambassador and award-winning nail artist says. "Your nails are 10 tiny canvases readily available and right in front of you, so why not experiment with new things like textures?" And Syreeta Aaron, LeChat Nails Educator and salon owner agrees, emphasizing that, sometimes, textured nails are also easier to execute than more intricate artwork. "When it comes to artists, we are always pushing the envelope with what can be done with different products, so there’s a constant evolution in nail art," she says. "Not everyone is an artist with a brush, but with texture you can get really cool looks without having to draw. With so many people now doing their nails at home, it’s a creative look that’s a little easier to DIY."

Aaron attributes the growing trend not only to more time at home, but also to the colder temperatures, saying that the most popular textured looks are snakeskin and cable knits, mimicking the frequented wardrobe of the winter. "Fashion has really brought this trend to the forefront and we recreate those runway trends on our nails," Aaron says. "This past year so many people have shifted to wearing loungewear daily, but nail art still gives the opportunity to dress up a look — even if there’s nowhere to go. With Instagram, Pinterest, etc. and so much time spent on our phones, there’s inspiration everywhere." And Huang knows first-hand the impact of fashion week runways on nails. "I’ve done the crocodile skin texture before for The Blonds Spring/Summer 2019 show at New York Fashion Week, and these are still one of my favorite designs that I’ve done," she shares.

Winnie Huang for CND

So how exactly are those three-dimensional looks created? It's not that hard. However, lots of gel may be required. "To mimic the texture and feel of crocodile skin, I formed a putty around a toy alligator’s body, creating a mold," Huang says. "I then hand-pressed each nail into the template, adhering the texture to the nail. Each nail was tinted with a sheer black alcohol ink, a top coat, and finished with a black chrome pigment powder."

There's also another method that one can use, but gel polish is the preferred formula here, says Aaron. "Apply your base coat (unless it’s acrylics then you don’t use base coat) followed by two coats of the color of your choice, curing after each coat. Apply a matte top coat and cure again." By "curing" Aaron is referring to allowing the gel to set under the UV lamp. "Then take a builder gel like LeChat Builder Gel and paint the lines on top of the nail and cure. The builder gel is clear so the color underneath will come through. Builder gels are meant for 'building' a nail so they’re able to give the raised 3D effect."

But snakeskin isn't the only texture that you can create. "Textures can be created using things you can find around the house," Huang says. Try using a makeup sponge, plastic wraps, and bobby pins. Transfer foils and glitters are also great for creating texture." Aaron suggests using loose glitter for one of the easiest looks. "You do a regular gel manicure with a color of your choice," she says. "Once it’s cured, add a layer of builder gel. You can do this in lines, dots, a half moon, or covering the whole nail to create a 'sugar nail,' which is a nail covered in glitter. Sprinkle the loose glitter over the nail and cure. Once cured, wipe off the glitter that was on the rest of the nail (it will only have cured and have stuck where it was wet from the builder gel before curing)."

So now is the time to channel Michelangelo. Throw these texture-friendly nail items in your cart, and get to painting!

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