Your manicures can say a lot about you and the things you love, whether you’re into minimalist designs or want dramatically long nails with sparkly gems. Your nails are like tiny art canvases and you and your manicurist are the painters controlling the brush.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic changed how we do nails as we were forced to figure out alternatives to the nail salon, the creativity and fun of the magical world of nail art never stopped. Heading into 2022, most nail salons are fully functional and folks now have the ability to experiment with new designs or stay loyal to the styles they love.
Nail artist Sigourney Nuñez says that creative self-expression is a big theme for nails in the new year. That’s why she predicts that multicolor manicures will remain popular. “While single-color manicures always reflect a polished appearance, manicures will continue to get more playful with color,” she shares with Allure. “Mix and match shades can boost mood confidence.”
Colorful manicures like Skittle nails have been popular in recent years, but Nuñez says these new manicures will involve more than a simple gradient effect. She envisions the color palette for the new manicures will better reflect the time and season with oranges and browns for the fall, a range of blues, grays, and whites for winter, or pretty pastels for spring. And multicolor manicures don’t have to be simply solid colors. Folks can also play around with nail designs in complementing or contrasting shades on a solid base. She likes creating a color palette using two to five shades for her clients. She recommends tapping into the wonderful world of Pinterest for inspiration and you can also use color theory to play around with different hues.
There are plenty of nail polish sets with shades that work well together. We’re fans of Nails Inc.’s Naked In Neon set, which comes with a taupe and three neons in lime, pink, and orange. If you’re interested in a more muted set, try Deborah Lippmann’s Touch Me In The Morning Nail Set, with six pastels in blues, purples, and pinks.
French vs. American Manicures
If you thought the French manicure was over, well, think again. Although the French manicure never really left, colorful remixes on the traditional art, which some are calling the American manicure, will still be going strong in 2022. We saw them on the runway at Prabal Gurung’s NYFW fall/winter 2020 show, where nail artist Miss Pop added dark red, arched tips to models’ hands.
Manicurist Gina Edwards agrees the French manicure is not going anywhere and we will continue to see colorful versions. She likes to take the trend a step further from using beige, pink, or one solid color on every nail. “I would do a different color base on each finger to make it more interesting and colorful with the coordinating tip color,” she says.
To create her C-shaped tips, she likes using a fine striping brush. But if you’re struggling at home, she recommends using a nail-art guide, like Orly’s Half Moon Guides, to paint an impeccable tip.
Neutrals, Neutrals, and More Neutrals
Some would argue that neutral nail polishes have never gone out of style, but it seems that in the new year, people’s love of nude shades will only become stronger. Toned-down shades of beige and light pink were all over the spring/summer 2022 runways during New York Fashion Week at Ulla Johnson, Jason Wu, and Tory Burch. At the Ulla Johnson and Jason Wu shows, nail artist Deborah Lippmann used her brand’s Gel Lab Pro Polish in Brand New Day, a warm beige that creates a minimalist look. Models at Tory Burch walked the runway with Tenoverten’s light taupe Canal on their fingertips.
Neutral polishes with warm berry undertones will also be on-trend this year, as Rebecca Isa, creative director of Zoya, predicts. “A couple of seasons ago, [Zoya’s nudes] were very gray. For 2022, it still has that neutral effect but pinker,” she shares. “It almost has a bloom of happiness coming through, where the grayer shades were a little bit more somber.”
Try the trend yourself with a shade like OPI Nail Lacquer in Put It In Neutral, a pink-tone nude that looks great on fair skin. Chanel’s Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Organdi is a warm nude that works well for those in the medium skin tone range. For those with darker skin, reach for Orly’s Lacquer in Dreamweaver, which gives a mauve-colored tint.
Time to DIY
When nail salons were closed due to COVID-19, folks were forced to DIY at home, leading to a rise in press-on nails and other innovative products like nail polish strips and stickers to make it easy. Though many nail salons are now open and functional, these easy-to-apply, at-home manicures have not lost their popularity. Beauty brands, including Olive & June, PaintLab, and Ace Beaute (and even non-beauty brands like PopSocket) have launched their own press-on sets to add to the increasing market.
If press-on nails aren’t your speed, nail wraps may be the better route. Brands like two-time Best of Beauty Award-winner ManiMe and Scratch Nail Wraps are helping to simplify the at-home manicure with their strips of nail polish. You stick them on the nail, file to fit your shape, and go. If you’re worried about how to apply them on shorter nails, don’t worry. We have this easy guide full of tips for you.
Nail stickers are a popular option if you just want to add an element of excitement to an existing manicure, and there are plenty of brands to choose from. Inked By Dani offers Color Nail Art Tattoos in teeny hand-drawn graphics (hearts, fruits flowers, lips, and pizza slices are just a few of the available designs) that you apply using water. Deco Miami Nail Art Stickers has over 20 different themes on individual sheets and each sheet has at least 15 stickers.
Manicured hands full of tiny teddy bear charms, multicolor gems, and fluffy pom-poms were all over Instagram this year. These 3D decals take manicures to the next level with interesting textures, sizes, and heights. Whether you’re simply adorning your nails in a bunch of pearls or opting for colorful charms like hearts and flowers, adding decals can elevate your manicure — and they are just so cute.
One of our favorite celebrity inspirations for nail art, Megan Thee Stallion, has hopped on this trend before with her Kawaii-inspired nails that had tiny flowers, bows, and Hello Kitty charms in yellow, purple, blue, and green. Three-dimensional shapes and figures in transparent or colorful jelly colors have also made their way from Korea and Japan. Tennis player Naomi Osaka tested out the trend with a multicolor manicure featuring three-dimensional bears in matching shades on each finger.
After the last two years we had, it seems like people are continuing with at-home treatments. Hydrating and reparative lotions and masks have been selling well for Zoya, according to Isa, which makes sense, given how frequently we wash our hands and the push for more self-care at home.
She’s noticed the brand’s Hydrate & Heal Dry Skin Retail Kit, which comes with a hyaluronic acid-infused hand and body serum and moisturizing hand cream has become immensely popular. If you’re interested in indulging in some extra love and care, try a hand mask before applying hand creams. We recommend Aveeno Repairing Cica Hand Mask to soothe and moisturize.
“The spa products — the scrubs, lotions, masks, and soaks — are predominantly for salon use, but we have seen a huge uptick in consumer usage,” Isa notes. “To me, all that says is that people are doing self-care at home. People are trying to find ways to destress.” And given these last two years, we don’t blame y’all.
Ride the Waves
Edwards predicts a rise in multicolor swirl designs on negative space or a nude base. She’s seen people become more interested in “creative and freeform” nail art and has spotted the wavy designs on editorial shoots and folks on the street. “The trend is going to be [popular] because you still have that negative space, but [the waves] allow you to have color, depth, and fun at the same time,” she says.
When she creates a swirled manicure on clients or herself, she likes to start with an opaque nude polish as the base color. Then she’ll use a fine striper brush to paint on her swirls, starting with the lighter color and then using the darker shade. “Whatever dominant color I use on one hand, I try to do the design on the other hand in the opposite way, so [the nails] are not all the same,” she explains.
You may have already noticed this trend on your Instagram feed or seen hashtags like #swirlnails or #wavynails, and we’re sure the number of posts will only increase as more and more people tap into the style.
A good topcoat is a necessity to preserve any manicure, but Nuñez recommends reaching for matte or pearlescent ones in 2022. “While a glossy top typically reigns supreme, next year people will want to transform their shades with a matte or pearlescent topcoat to give their tried-and-true colors a revived vibe,” she shares.
She loves to use the Pleasing Pearly Tops Polish (she worked on the photo shoot for the brand’s launch) to add a matte and slightly pearlescent effect to her manicures. If you prefer just a matte finish, OPI Matte Topcoat works well.
We won’t know for sure what the next year will look like, but we’re sure that with these creative nail art ideas, all of our manicures will look fabulous.
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