In recent years, nail design and art have exploded. What was once an afterthought is now a space to express yourself with rhinestones, pearls, optical illusions, technicolour French tips and more. You name it, people have done it. But what’s on the cards for this year? From Bella Hadid’s favourite Mei Kawajiri aka Nails by Mei, to social media sensation Park Eunkyung of Unistella, we asked the experts for their top 2021 nail trend predictions.
“We’ll be seeing a lot of nail stickers, like those from my favourite ManiMe, who has great solid options and looks curated by talented nail artists.
“Stemming from the DIY trend, another big look will be simple designs that work when the nails grow in between salon visits. Coloured French tips and art on a negative space look less grown-out than a full-coverage manicure. I’m really loving the idea of metallic French tips.
“When salons finally open [after lockdown], velvet nails are going to be very popular. It’s a gel technique using a magnet, which pulls particles up to become reflective and mimics the appearance of velvet. A similar look can be achieved at home with a fine glitter polish.”
Juan Alvear, aka Nails by Juan
“2020 was a year that really pushed people to try out press-ons to cope with salons being closed and I expect this trend to continue. It’s an exciting idea for people to start a collection of reusable nails that match different moods and colour schemes. It saves money, too.”
“I expect to see a lot more custom day-to-day nail art. People have more time on their hands, which allows them to experiment. In an effort to avoid salons, an increasing number of people are reaching out to me for individual appointments [in line with local Covid-19 restrictions]. This creates more of a one-to-one experience, which leads to brainstorming on colours, textures, finishes — basically everything you’ve dreamed about asking for at a salon.”
Park Eunkyung, aka Unistella
“I’m expecting unique, minimal styles to be on-trend, such as checkered patterns that create illusions and negative space nails that involve geometric lines.
“I’ve been wanting to bring the idea of sustainability to nail art, so I started recycling different things to attach to my nails, such as beads, fabric from clothes, plastic water bottles and wires.”
Kro Vargas, aka Krocaine
“One of the fastest-growing trends right now is airbrush nail art.”
“Another is mix and match. With all these trends, it’s been hard for manicure addicts to just choose one design. With this look, you can have a little bit of everything.”
Sojin Oh, aka Soji Nails
“In quarantine, people were able to experiment — being at home most of the time, you don’t really need to have comfortable nails for work. So I’ve definitely been seeing more 3D nail art than usual, and I hope it continues.
“Aquarium nails will be big, they are so fascinating — you just can’t stop looking at them.”
“We’ll also see more pointy nails. Cardi B has opened up so many people’s minds on pointy nails. I remember when I first started doing nails, no one wanted them because they seemed ‘too much’ for them, but I think that’s changing.”
Sarah Nguyen, aka Chrmd by Sarah
“We’ve seen such a huge increase in jewelled and adorned manicures, and this will continue.”
“Animal prints are going to make a huge comeback. We’ve seen tortoiseshell, crocodile, leopard, zebra and giraffe. From a 3D textured feel to high gloss mixed with matte, the possibilities are endless.”
“It looks like 2021 will be another difficult year for salons, which might mean a lot less fresh nail inspiration on Instagram. I hope the silver lining to this is that people are able to discover what they love on themselves without the influence of trends.”
Mei Kawajiri, aka Nails by Mei
“Collage nails will be big this year. I love them, they feel more like an accessory. Crazy nails stand out with simple clothing!”
Natasha Blake, aka Fuego Nails
“Snakeskin will be huge. I love this style because it’s simple, yet intricate. You can really experiment with different colourways, either making the design look realistic to snakeskin or crocodile skin or going full-on rainbow by creating a trippy, colourful set.”
“Another really cool method is cat-eye — it’s a design that uses magnets and iron particles in the polish to create a dazzling and intense effect.”
Pebbles Aikens, aka Pebbles Nails
“Patterns seen on clothing and everyday items are influencing nail trends. These images can be scaled down and transformed on to the nail, showing that anything is possible.
“I’ve also seen lots of fine artwork transformed on to nails, such as that by Faith Ringgold, Günther Förg and Jeff Koons. It’s a way for people to get really creative and expressive.”
Rebecca Jade Wilson
“My big manicure trend for this year is neutral with black accents.
“People are also investing more time in their nail health, which will inevitably lead to a rise in more natural manicures.
“For those waiting to get back to long, enhanced nails, we will see a surge in unapologetic styles, bright colours and eye-catching embellishments.”
“For once, I’m in agreement with Pantone’s colour of the year: a bright yellow teamed with dove grey. This is the beautiful, sunny and hopeful colour that we all need to brighten up our lives as we approach spring.
“For those who love enhancements, my favourite look is ‘crystal nails’. This is where the free edge of the nail is clear or has a ‘jelly’ colour. It can be created with salon-style enhancements or clear press-on nail tips from high-street stores.”
Yukie Natori, aka Yukie Beauty Spa
“Mirror nails, with their delicate mirror-like shine, have been in fashion for the past few years. This year’s trend is to use advanced techniques such as drawing mirror nails in lines, surrounding the edge of the nail, or using mirror nails on the tips of French nails to resemble jewellery.
“Elsewhere, nuanced designs with gentle, reassuring colour combinations express the coming of spring.”