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This Hottest Nail Fashions of 2021

Nail art has never been bigger or more popular than now – from the catwalk to the high street, and with even the UK’s young royals getting in on the polish action, maybe we all need to up our nail game.

There’s something about the impending arrival of a new fashion season that just feels energizing. It’s a great reason, if we need one, to look ahead, update our look and get out there to show it off! The most popular manicures vary from state to state and city to city, but nail art enthusiasts across the country can all agree on one thing – bold and bolder are the new pastels.

Runway glamor is about more than hair and makeup — it’s a trifecta that includes nails.

Exaggerated eyeliner, the shadow in neon flashes and floral headpieces may have attempted to grab our attention during the S/S 2019 shows, but much of the drama was happening below the neck. So many gorgeous nail creations pulling our attention away from the new look fabrics and clothing designs, these shows in New York, London, Paris, and Milan were all about the nails. This is where most inspiration stems from, and thanks, too, to Instagram – we have no shortage of ideas.

Bringing these ideas onto the high street, there are two main trends that appear to be polar opposites – uber-minimalist designs, usually applied over a bare nail, and extreme appliqués and embellishments that stand out even from a distance. However, both trends stem from the same root – boldness. The boldness to go bare, and the boldness to go … well, bold!

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Coffin Nails

A square nail is usually a more serious one, but once it obtains length it actually becomes one of the most dramatic shapes, especially when flat ended and embellished with appliqué. Mimicking a coffin, or ballerina shoes, this shape is great if your stiletto nail breaks, or you just want a slightly less fragile yet still extreme nail shape. On the runways, we saw a lot of long press-on nails finished with a coffin mani.

Eye-catching and classy in the extreme, long coffin nails look awesomely dramatic, but whether you have short ones, or just don’t want long fake ones, they still look great worn in a shorter style if you need an on-trend, but understated, look. With a larger space to create your art, you can really go to town if you wish. French tip ombre styles look amazing, matte black coupled with a delicate 3D accent embellishment are increasingly popular, and the catwalk favorite – holographic and polished chrome, look supremely stylish.

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Lee Nails

Advertised as the nail accessory in the 80’s by We Heart Nails, Lee press-on nails are making a massive comeback in 2019. Mimicking the look of real nails, with today’s improved durability and adhesives, they can generally be kept on for up to three weeks, and are massively versatile in terms of style and length.

As we saw on the catwalks, the trend is to wear press-on nails ultra-long and in their raw form without applying color. This follows the path of clear PVC trends – from the inoffensive transparent handbag to the less inoffensive equally transparent clothing ranges that, thankfully, haven’t filtered down to the high street – yet!

The always unique Vivienne Westwood used super long press-on nails, keeping the tips clear, and applying a metallic shine to the nail beds, whereas Fashion East’s show had painted talons in opaque and matte shades.

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Ombre Nails

Now, this is a style that we can really get behind. Gradient color schemes are trending right now in a big way, and there are infinite variations on the theme.

You can get creative with the number of colors and the directionality of your gradient – lighter at the cuticle with a darker shade towards the tip, or vice versa. The fun part is adding your secondary, or even tertiary, shade.  

While you’re still perfecting the art, choose colors that are similar to each other as these can disguise any mistakes, for example, light blue to teal, or light grey to a darker shade.

How do you achieve the ombre look?

  • Cut a makeup sponge into strips
  • Apply your base coat
  • Apply a thin coat of the lightest chosen color
  • Paint on horizontal stripes of colors onto the surface of the sponge
  • Tap or roll the sponge onto your nail – this takes some practice and blur where the colors meet. You’ll need to add more polish to the sponge after a couple of nails
  • Repeat this until you’ve achieved the desired effect
  • Add several top coats and cure

You can, for a different effect, use brushes rather than the sponge, and this gives a better finish for gel polishes.

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Diamond Nails

Whilst having the real thing on our nails might be affordable for celebs, most of us have to plump for faux diamonds – they are much more practical after all!

Big and bold are the watchwords for 2021’s diamond nails, and although the idea of nail design with diamonds may seem complicated or expensive, it really isn’t.

Diamond nails have been increasing rapidly in popularity due to the classy shine and sparkle that they add to basic designs.

You can opt to go all out and coat entire nails in diamonds or go for a simpler accent look – customization options are endless. Don’t feel limited to a single color, shape or size of diamond either because variety can contribute create different looks. Area’s show, for example, embellished the tips of a long-nailed French manicure with immaculately straight rows of tiny diamonds – stunning!

Even the most complicated design can be done by yourself, at home, and here’s how:

  • Apply several coats of gel polish in your chosen color, and dry them under a curing lamp as normal.
  • Apply a top coat, and before curing, gently add the gems using tweezers or a specialist applicator.
  • Cure
  • Using a thin brush apply another layer of the top coat between the rhinestones, without covering them completely, but pushing up to their edges.
  • Remove any residue over the gems before curing.
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SNS Nails

SNS stands for Signature Nail Systems and it’s a powder based effect. It really is awesome – take it from us, and the millions of fans who’ve fallen for this ultra-long lasting, supremely glossy finish. Seriously, the stuff doesn’t chip off – ever, and only needs removing when the regrowth becomes too obvious.

After a clear base coat is applied, dip your nails into the fine powder pigment, which will stick to the still-wet base. The process is repeated to build thickness and color intensity. Finish it off with a gentle buff, then apply a top coat – and that’s it! No lamps, no curing, no overpowering polish aroma. Your nails can even be decorated, or embellished with gems – exactly the same as you would with regular polish.

SNS Nails are rapidly changing the face of the manicure and is hailed as a healthy manicure. The powder formula contains calcium, magnesium and other nail nourishing minerals, so can actually help your nails to remain strong and in great condition.