Color trends come and go. If you don’t want to invest in an expensive piece of clothing or accessory, consider your fingertips the best option for noncommittal — and economical — experimentation. A baby blue designer bag may set you back thousands, but the nail polish counterpart costs about as much as a cocktail. So what are the shades and trends that will be popular this spring? The Cut spoke with eight celebrity and editorial manicurists to find out.
1. Bright Coral
“I am so excited about coral for spring,” says Nadine Abramcyk, co-founder of non-toxic nail salon chain tenoverten. “It’s an unexpected way to introduce color as we transition to warmer weather. I am currently wearing Chanel’s version, Coralium.”
2. Muted Pink
Abramcyk adds, “Clients are asking for muted pinks, such as our best-selling tenoverten shade called Watts. Any nail shape works with these colors, but make sure your nail edges are smooth and that the cuticle is buffed clean before applying polish.”
3. Neutral Dots
“A neutral dot manicure is super simple and not something you’ll tire of within a few days,” says Abramcyk. To do a DIY version, buy yourself a dotting tool or use the edge of a toothpick. Next, paint your nails with a neutral base coat and pour a second polish color in a small dish. Dip your tool into the polish and apply the dots onto the neutral base once it’s fully dry. Wait a few minutes before applying the top coat.
4. Pastel Blues
“Pastel colors are always expected,” says Tracylee, an editorial and celebrity manicurist, “but this season’s version have an unexpected warm undertone that allows them to compliment all skin tones.” Celebrity manicurist Steph Stone agrees: “I’m getting tons of requests for pastels — they are consistently a spring staple.”
Pastel polish PSA: Due to the formula’s thin nature, pastels often go on streaky. Get a smooth application by trying Stone’s pro trick: first, lightly buff each nail so they are free of any texture. “It’s important to have a completely smooth nail bed otherwise every brush stroke or bump in your nail bed will show,” says Stone. Next, wipe each nail with rubbing alcohol to remove dirt or dust. Last, apply a base coat to ensure smooth polish application.
5. ’90s Neons
“Neon nails are already having a big moment this spring!” says Tracylee. Insider secret: these colors pop even brighter when applied over one coat of white polish, she explains. Feel free to experiment on all lengths and shapes, “but I like to play around with the finishes between glossy and matte to add an interesting texture,” she says.
6. Animal Prints
“I’m loving that animal-print nail art is having a moment again,” Tracylee tells us. “I’ve seen this trend used with both the pastel and bright nail colors, and each one is fun.” To make sure you leave the salon with your exact vision, she recommends bringing along a photo. “It’s easier for a nail artist to see exactly what you have in mind.”
7. Bold Pinks
“Pink is taking center stage this season. It really evokes the beauty of nature and florals that we so often associate with spring,” says Deborah Lippmann, co-founder and creative director of the eponymous lacquer line. Editorial manicurist and salon founder Jin Soon Choi also sees pink shades trending. “They’re extremely feminine,” she says, “bright pink is the quintessential spring color.” Her salon advice? Ask for a short to medium length filed with either a round or square shape.
8. Special Effects
“Special effect top coats are really popular right now because these colors make people happy and are an easy way to do nail art at home,” says Choi. Use them on bare nails, over a sheer color, or on top of opaque base colors, she suggests. “I prefer the confetti look on squoval shape nails (square with rounded edges) because they portray a youthful and modern spin.”
9. Sheer Neutrals
“I love a neutral manicure any time of year, but especially in the spring!,” says Sarah Gibson Tuttle, founder of Olive & June. “These shades go with everything and look good in every nail shape and length.” To make your manicure last for a week or more, Tuttle recommends reapplying a top coat every two to three days.
10. Metallic Foil
“As clients continue to ask for nude and sheer manicures, adding transfer foil is a really easy way to slowly integrate details that take the look from subtle to chic,” says Sigourney Nunez, OPI’s Education Manager.
If you’re trying this at home, she says, a foil nail art look is all about the timing. Once you’ve applied your base and two coats of color, wait about two to three minutes for those layers to dry to the touch. Use a gentle and feathery touch to slowly transfer the foil. If it won’t stick, the layers are too dry, she says. If you notice some of the polish latching on to the foil, it’s not dry enough. “Practice and patience goes a long way with this technique.”
11. The New Nudes
“Peach and lilac are a welcome step up from a traditional neutral this spring,” says Julie Kandalec, an editorial and celebrity manicurist.” Both colors are white-based shades, which means they thicken faster than any other color family, so the key is to mix them evenly.” To ensure a streak-free application, Kandalec advises closing the bottle and shaking again after every five nails you polish.
12. Flora and Fauna
“I am obsessed with a new trend from Japan where the daintiest flora and fauna details are encased in the nail, usually using gel,” says Kandalec. “I got into nails because of my love of miniatures, and this takes it to the tenth power for me.” Many of the designs, she says, are done by encasing dried flowers, crystals, and metal details.
13. Over the Rainbow
“My personal favorite trend for spring is the willingness to play with a different color on each nail bed,” says Stone, who put this look to the test for Alice + Olivia’s spring fashion campaign. “I got to do multi-manis, and all the models were excited wear them out after the shoot.”
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