Looking for your wedding day manicure look? You might want to consider skipping the classic pale-pink shade and go for a unique nail art look. After all, they are totally on-trend in 2021. “We have definitely seen the resurgence of nail art early this summer. Geometric patterns and clean lines seem to dominate the nail art scene,” says Leah Yari, CEO and founder of Côte, a California-based non-toxic nail polish line and salon.
Across trendy nail salons and on social media, professionals are seeing the emergence of clean and modern nail art, including a big move back towards the French tip. Amanda Lazaroff, senior nail educator at Denver-based Base Coat, says she saw the trend start to blow up last year. She says some popular designs include abstract lines and shapes, nude colors with pops of color, multiple colors in a gradient order across each finger, and half-moon designs.
But, Mabelyn Martin, the creative director at New York City’s Paintbox, says nail art is actually nothing new. “It has been a part of my whole life,” she shares. “I was born in Patterson, New Jersey. Nail art, from the most maximalist to the most minimal, has always been around me. It’s one of those things—it depends on who’s wearing it if it’s trendy. It’s always been there in the inner city.”
Martin, who designs most of Paintbox’s designs—many of which fall into the current trend of geometric shapes, negative space, and color blocking—in part credits the Kardashians with the nail art renaissance. “Some [people] aspire to be like them and nail art is something most can afford—it’s different from an Hermes bag. Nail art is more attainable and easier to copy when you see it on an influencer,” she says.
Experts agree that nail art has infiltrated the bridal world as well. Brides and bridal parties come in for manicure trials, much like they would for hair and makeup. Some brides even set goals to reach as to how long they want their nails to get for the wedding. At Paintbox, special two-hour bridal appointments can be booked with a specialist, and Martin says brides will often bring in jewelry and photos of their gown to help choose the right manicure.
Inspired to try some bridal nail art? These are the top trends for the big day, according to nail experts.
French Tip and Reverse French Tip
“It's a classic look, but with a new twist,” Yari says of the resurgence of French tip. “The tip paint has gotten thinner; it's a more delicate look and nicely elongates the look of the fingers.”
She notes that the classic white and clear French tip, as well as new takes like the “reverse” French tip, which puts the white polish near the cuticle, are popular among brides. “Both looks are feminine, elegant, but just a touch avant garde. Striking enough to be noticed, but subtle enough to not take anything away from the overall bridal glow,” she says. Lazaroff says she’s seeing some more adventurous French-tip looks as well like nude and a pop of color rather than classic white. Martin adds a French tip is also a popular bridal look because it can grow out without being too noticeable while brides are away on their honeymoon.
Speaking of practicality, Martin notes that negative space—leaving some of the nail bare or clear—is not only a big trend aesthetically, but it’s also quite practical. Since it also allows for more time in between manicures, it’s a good choice for honeymooners who don’t want to go in for another appointment during their trip.
At Paintbox, the most popular nail-art design for brides, according to Martin, is a glitter gradient look. This features heavier glitter towards the tip and fades to the cuticle, leaving some negative space to allow for growing. Martin shares blush tones and champagne-colored holographic specs are the preferred colors for this look.
She also offers bolder, geometric styles in this scheme. “It’s pretty subtle; you only see it with movement,” she explains. “It’s not the big flecks of glitter; they’re super tiny micro. But, if you have short nails, it elongates them.”
Another trick to elongate the nail, Martin says, is adding a vertical line of sparkle down the middle. “Glitter usually gives an optical illusion where it looks longer,” she says. After all, nail length and shape is a big deal for brides these days. “Over the last couple of years, brides are wanting a longer, more oval shaped nail,” adds Lazaroff.
Lazaroff says the half-moon base is “showing up more and more.” She adds, “Pastels, especially blue and white, are go to's. For brides in particular, a simple and subtle touch of light blue is always a fun add on.” You also can mix in a few trends and add in an extra line of glitter for a fun glam look.
While brides often stick with a look that fits within a classic neutral palette, that’s not the case for the bridal party. “Colorwise, soft pinks and nude colors remain the go-to for brides. Bridesmaids, however, have definitely gotten more adventurous—we’ve noticed them get colors that compliment their dresses and stand out a bit versus a more neutral look,” says Lazaroff. She also adds that at her salon, she sees nail art as a popular look for bachelorette parties. “Depending on the destination, I'm seeing a lot of fun, bright colors, and colored french tips with a nude base,” she shares.