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Nail designs that express your love

5 trends that capture romance in subtle, bold or cute looks

By LOUISE DIXON, Associated Press
Published: February 24, 2024, 6:58am
3 Photos
3D Art Gel-Apres Gel Couleur.
3D Art Gel-Apres Gel Couleur. (Julie Kandalec) Photo Gallery

Why not express love on your fingernails? Julie Kandalec, celebrity manicurist to the likes of Jessica Chastain, Mariah Carey ad Emily Blunt, notes some fun new trends.

“You can do it for yourself. You can do it for Valentine’s Day. You can do it for your partner,” she says.

Traditionally, Valentine’s nails would have been simple, she says: “a solid red nail or a cute little simple pink heart or a French manicure.” Now, thanks to social media, there are lots of ideas.

Kandalec’s top five current nail trends:

Coquette or Kawaii nails

Kandalec says she’s obsessed with this one. An overload of cuteness, this maximalist manicure uses pastel pinks and lilacs loaded with dangly charms, hearts, flowers, bows, stickers, gems, pearls and all manner of appliques. Coquette nails were a trend over a decade ago, she says, but “it’s been long enough that we’re bringing it back new. We would call it kawaii nails, which (means) ‘cute’ in Japanese, so I love that it’s coming back.”

French manicure/Square nails

Square shaped nails are back in style after a long absence, Kandalec says. But this time round, the trend is for a square French style. Nails are squared off along the top and given a French manicure — a natural-colored nail with a white tip. She also notes that French nails are being paired with the “mob wife look” as a whole new trend.

‘Mob wife’

This trend in fashion, makeup and, of course, on nails draws inspiration from mafia wives both real and fictional, from Carmela Soprano to Karen Hill. These nails are extra long, extra square, extra pointed, with extra white French tips. No milky white subtle tips seen here. It’s over the top and garish, with animal prints and 3D patterns popular, as well as glitter embellishments or a classic red.

Kandalec points out that the classic red manicure is also “having a major moment” and this can be combined with the mob trend.

Magnetic hearts

These are huge on Instagram and TikTok — Kandalec calls them “3D puffy hearts.” The effect is achieved with a magnet held to wet gel polish that contains magnetic particles. “What you do is you hold it kind of perpendicular to the nail. And then it flips the magnetic particles and it gives it this really cool 3D look. Some people call it velvet nails. They call it cat-eye nails. They call it magnetic nails..”

“It’s really fun and kind of goes along with the kawaii, the coquette nails as well, and also jelly nails, which is what I have on right now,” she says.

Jelly nails

Often described as lip gloss for nails. They’re “a really sheer type of polish. It can be any color. It’s basically the color mixed with clear, or it’s already made that it’s very, very sheer. So it’s kind of like a wash of color. It’s a very big trend in Korea right now,” she says. The trend “is to have kind of a sheer base at the cuticle.”

If none of the above trends appeal, maybe you can just give a little dedication to a special someone by adding their name or initials to the design.

“Or even if you’re single,” says Kandaliec, “you can manifest someone by putting, you know, a little pink heart or a little something to kind of draw that person to you.”