Celebrity Manicurist Gracie J Spills the Best OTT Summer Nail Trends
Jewel tones for fall, pretty pastels for spring, and bold brights for summer: Groundbreaking, right? It’s easy to stick to the polish shades you know, but the season offers the chance to get out of our color comfort zones and test drive new nail art trends, even if it’s just for a week or two. One mani maven who knows how to go wild with her art? Gracie J, whose work you might’ve seen during the first season of TNT’s Claws. The pro shares her favorite, absolutely over-the-top, Instagram-worthy trends to try throughout the summer. Scroll on to see them all.
Increase your shade selection. While Gracie has a slew of celebrity clients she draws inspiration from (Karrueche Tran, Princess Nokia, Ezinma, to name a few), she sees the season itself as the perfect excuse to pick the electric polishes that can be intimidating in the bottle but might be amazing on our nails. “I'm always inspired by bright colors,” she says. “I think there is a boost of confidence and fierceness that happens when the weather gets little warmer.”
Have fun freestyling with shapes. If you scroll through Gracie J's Instagram page, you’ll likely spy loads of looks featuring swooping lines and lava lamp-like blobs of color. “If you're the handy type, there are some simple looks you can try at home to save money and perhaps even a trip to the salon,” Gracie says. You can easily recreate these styles yourself as long as you have a striping brush or two and some time to practice.
Go wild with animal prints. “I love animal prints, fluid shapes, and freestyle looks,” she adds. Remember that you don’t have to stick to the color scheme nature intended. Give your fierce mani a Lisa Frank twist by adding spots or zebra stripes over a cluster of vibrant colors, and you’ll be surprised by how many heads turn.
Doll them up with dots. If leopard print appears too intimidating to achieve, you can start off slowly and work your way up to it. There are plenty of prints that you can dip and dab on that look, including the one above. “All this look would require is your preferred colors and a dotting tool,” Gracie explains, although a toothpick can serve as a cheap, yet effective, alternative.
Get nervy with neon. Neons are synonymous with bikini season since they pop on every skin tone. But if you can’t hang poolside or by the beach yet, you can still channel that sun and fun feeling on your fingertips in shades of green, yellow, or Gracie’s current favorite, pink. “I think neons are underrated,” Gracie explains. “People are often too reluctant to step outside of their comfort zone, so they avoid any colors that may be a little out there. But neons bring such a positive vibe and energy!” But if it's too much, a glimmering top coat can help tone things down.
Shimmer in multiple shades. “The more glitter, the better,” she says, and we wholeheartedly agree. But instead of sticking to one sparkling shade, Gracie suggests cobbling together a couple of complementary glitter colors to create an ombré with a serious dash of dazzle.
Remix the mermaid trend. Mermaids are the new unicorns, but that doesn’t mean you have to focus on their fins and scales to get the vibe across. Gracie notes that 3D gels are quickly becoming a manicurist’s best friend, as they can whip up a set of seashells (accented with pearls) to channel the trend and give your nails instant texture.
Check out charms. It seems like you can’t scroll through your social feeds these days without spotting a dangling chain or metal stud dotting the nails of some of the biggest stars. In fact, Gracie created these nails with a mobile charm on it for Pose actress Angelica Ross to wear at the show’s premiere. “I love interactive nail play,” Gracie states. “It was so fun.”
Let the runway (or red Carpet) be your guide. This year’s Met Gala sparked a surge of creativity we all saw in the form of fanart, cosplay, and creative manis. “The most recent fashion looks I was totally inspired by were Rihanna, Cardi B, and Solange's gowns for the Met Gala,” Gracie says. And you can do the same. Just take a close look at the colors and patterns of your favorite red carpet moments and color match with your nail polish collection and play.
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(Photos via Gracie J)