Nailed It – 10 Nail Artists You Should Be Following On Instagram
Surely it works like this, the longer the nails, the less you have to do for yourself. Taking the bins out is not even an option when you have two-inch leopard print talons *cough cough* Cardi B. The Ming dynasty in China used to use excessively long nails as a statement of wealth and status, demonstrating that manual labour is not something they participate in. So favoured by the upper class around 600 years ago, but now a free for all.
Manicures have moved far and beyond a quick nail file and coat of OPI peachy nude. The progression away from simplicity has embraced length, colour, design and shape. Kylie Jenner is partial to a coffin, Cardi B is more of a stiletto and Hailey Beiber goes for almond. Hair and make-up have the ability to act as a powerful form of self-expression and nails are the same. “Your nails are a reflection of your style and self. They can say a lot about you,” says nail artist Naomi Yasuda, who is a favourite of Madonna.
After shielding your nails away for months, it makes sense that people want to go completely OTT. “The most popular nail art trends at the moment are the 1990s, French nails are back in, think bright tie-dye and anything festival related like smiley faces, etc,” affirms Michelle Humphrey, a manicurist to the stars. “I’m seeing a lot of these manicures where each nail has a different design, I love the fact that it’s fun and completely bespoke.”
High fashion and nail art come hand in hand. Think back to Billie Eilish’s Burberry look at the Oscars, her nails gained as much attention as the clothes. Or when Kim Kardashian had actual crystals dripping from hers for the 2019 Met Gala. Nails are no longer the finishing touches to a look, but the main event.
There are hundreds of pages dedicated to nail art creations, providing not just ample inspiration but also videos that fall under the same satisfying category as those viral slime creations, or cake decorating videos. Essentially the videos that clog up your Instagram explore page manage to increase your screen time by an hour in one sitting. The therapeutic strokes of paint, build-up of acrylic and intricate design detail can make for mesmerizing viewing.
Whilst salons across the country have opened their doors once more, have a go at some outrageous nail art from the comfort of your own living room. Here are wizards with the acrylics who are spearheading the wacky, weird and wonderful nail art revolution.
Naomi Yasuda (@naominailsnyc)
Naomi Yasuda is responsible for the nails of some of the most iconic celebrities, such as Lady Gaga, A$AP Rocky and, as she calls her, “the queen,” Madonna. “Her work ethic inspires me a lot, I love working with her,” says Yasuda. She has been in NYC for 12 years but the Japanese influence on many of her nail designs are a credit to her culture. Naomi’s page will leave you overwhelmed with choices and in awe of the intricacies and originalities.
Michelle Humphrey (@nailsbymh)
You will instantly demand a manicure after scrolling through Michelle’s page. She describes nails as the icing on the cake, “they can finish off a look and make someone appear completely refined.” Dua Lipa has been one of Humphrey’s favourite clients. “For her Future Nostalgia cover I did an acrylic glitter ombré and encapsulated Fimo canes, they were so cute.”
Yoko Sakakura (@nails_by_yoko)
Yoko Sakakura gives you high shine, gloss, glitter and translucent nails at great lengths. Even a Californian sunset can be embodied on a nail, who knew! “They are the type of thing you don’t know you need, but then you get a great manicure and it completes the look,” she explains. Her unique designs are likely to be the main talking point of any outfit.
Tammy Taylor Nails (@tammytaylornails)
This page is the Californian dream of perfectly shaped nails, cluttered with elegant pinks and rhinestones. Just what you would expect from a world record holder. Taylor has been doing nails for 39 years, “and I have loved every minute of it,” she confirms. In 1989, the artiast set the record for the fastest set of pink and white sculpted nails… in 17 minutes and 10 seconds. Billie Eilish’s Burberry nails at this year’s Oscars? Yup, that was Tammy.
Britney Tokyo (@britneytokyo)
Based in Hollywood, Tokyo’s nail designs are anything but low key. Keeping up with the trends she’s cracking at smiley face nails, french manicures and jewel-encrusted acrylics. Masterpieces to swoon over, at the tips of your fingers.
Park Eunkyung (@nail_unistella)
This artist works in a more muted colour palette than the above mentioned, yet is still refreshingly unique. She makes a good case for the importance of good nails, “nails are always exposed in the centre of the body unless you’re wearing gloves,” says Eunkyung. Her page shows an expert mix of perfectly shaped nails topped with jewellery you can purchase from her website. It is what Eunkyung calls the “future of nail art.”
Chaun Legend (@chaunlegend)
A go-to nail artist for the Kardashians – which is always a good one to have on your CV – Chaun Legend’s page consists of long, ombre-tipped and block colour nails interspersed with extravagant patterns and designs. Definitely on the classy and more elegant side of things, with nails that could work for everyday. And even Including some extremely satisfying video content.
Jenny Bui (@nailson7th)
You must have seen Cardi B’s “WAP” music video by now? Each outfit change came with a new set of claws (and she wore a lot of outfits.) Sets generously decorated with Swarovski crystals, snake print, matte leopard, neon yellow and baby pink. Jenny Bui has been doing Cardi’s nails for a long time so it makes sense that she designs the most extra and lavish nails you’ll ever lay eyed upon. In line with her self proclaimed nickname, Queen of Bling, these creations are rarely seen without a few Swarovski crystals involved.
Rose Barron (@rosebnails)
It’s kitsch heaven! Hello Kitty (and her boyfriend Pochacco), Anime girls, Mr. Men, cherries, rainbows and even Care Bears. The nostalgia whilst browsing Rose Barron’s Instagram will only heighten your desire for pastel green nails featuring your favourite childhood cartoons.
Mei Kawajiri (@nailsbymei)
Mei Kawajiri is a Japanese nail artist based in New York, her page offers some light relief from 3-inch-long acrylics and shows that even the most detailed designs can be done on short natural nails. She also does plenty of acrylics which are equally tempting and full of energy.
Top image: Cardi B for Reebok, nails by Jenny Bui.