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You don't even need to see the fall 2022 runways to know that Y2K style is back—in full force. And though we'll always live for the smudged liner and shimmery chain-mail dresses of 2000s-era parties past, there's one early-aughts statement look that continues to maintain its relevancy time and time again: the French manicure. Typically designed with a neutral base and white, half-moon accent shape on each fingernail, the traditional French manicure serves as an easy way to dip one's toe into the idea of nail art without fully diving into the deep end. Now in 2022, this classic manicure is officially getting an upgrade.
"I think the French manicure has always been a go-to since its debut from Jeff Pink in 1978, but now with modern nail technology, you can tailor it to your own style and taste," Euphoria and celebrity nail artist Natalie Minerva tells BAZAAR.com. "It's always fun to take something classic and give it a personal spin."
Often featuring bold or pastel colors, or an intricate pattern to head off its classic silhouette, the nouveau French manicure—or as Minerva coins the style, the French twist—offers a punchier take on nail art than its predecessor, with the same high level of sophistication. This updated look can also incorporate a thicker or thinner half-moon shape (known as a micro French), along with the inclusion of shimmery or glittery polish, accent gems, or pearls for a more textural beauty look.
"The Y2K 'movement' has seen an uptick in beauty because fashion has been heading in that direction for some time now," Minerva adds. "I think it's because people love feeling nostalgic, and they're fun to look at. These looks are colorful and exploratory; you don't need to hold back when you go that route."
Celebrity nail artist Sigourney Nuñez agrees, adding that inspiration from the 2000s provides beauty lovers with fond memories of the past, especially in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. "We are living through very tumultuous times, so it makes sense to turn to nostalgia for comfort, which is a big reason Y2K trends are back," she explains.
Aside from featuring cheery, colorful designs with a mix of line depths and accents, the French twist is also known to include a range of nail art illustrations that help elevate its modern design even further. "Nail art in general is pretty noncommittal. Nail polish can last four to six days without a chip, and a gel manicure can last up to three weeks. So in general, people are more likely to get more playful with color since it doesn't last very long," Nuñez adds. "Some other Y2K trends that are translating to nails are hearts and butterflies paired with colorful French tips."
Minerva says that many versions of the popular nail trend were used as part of beauty looks for the cast of Euphoria in Season 2. "I see French twists on Instagram every day! I actually did quite a few fun French variations on Euphoria with Alexa, Sydney, and Barbie for their characters. It's just a fun way to dress up a nail."
Marissa Galante Frank, Bloomingdale's fashion director for accessories and beauty, says that hit TV shows like Euphoria have continued to set the pace when it comes to informing today's makeup and nail trends. "We're seeing beauty brands embrace more color, glitter, and embellishments like crystals in their assortment. It reflects that Y2K style and is also a nod to popular shows known for their incredible beauty looks, like Euphoria," she says. "The nail trends happening right now mirror the overall mood within beauty and accessories, as we're all looking to have fun, express ourselves, and embrace some color and sparkle along the way. If we want to wear glitter eyeliner and carry a crystal handbag, why would our opinion on nails be any different?"
As newly emboldened nail enthusiasts continue taking beauty into their own hands with the help of expert tutorials online, professionals have seen an increase in sales of at-home nail kits and tools. Nuñez says she's also seen an increase in clients and consumers looking to up their personal nail art skills, due in part to the effects of the pandemic. "Products like nail kits and polish are selling, because people learned how to do their own nails during quarantine. Since salons were closed, people turned to Instagram and TikTok to learn how to properly remove their enhancements at home, which was likely the gateway to DIY manicures for some people. Nail stickers are also popular at the moment, because they're super easy to apply for the nail pro and the everyday consumer."
When it comes to planning your next manicure idea, experts say the Y2K influence has a lasting grip on current nail trends and is here to stay—at least for the next several months. "It's hard to imagine anything people haven't covered with how broad-scope the Internet is in spreading and pushing nail trends," Minerva says. "All I can really say in terms of the trajectory of Y2K-style nails is that it's not going away anytime soon, and people aren't holding back on color, texture, or patterns."
Get Sigourney Nuñez's Shroomy French nails, inspired by Harry Styles's Pleasing:
Apply a base coat to prepped nails.
Use the detail brush and Pleasing's Vine Ripe Polish to paint small circles on the free edge, creating big dots that replicate a mushroom.
Add a coat of Pleasing's The Whole Dewniverse to complete the look with a subtle holo finish.
Get Natalie Minerva's Paradise French nails:
Apply Round Short Natural Apres Gel X extensions for length.
Starting in the middle of the top of the nail with a very thin liner brush, paint a thin half-line in blue with Riccagel 162M.
Next, take black gel polish (opt for Riccagel 002M) and complete the other half of the French design, making it the same width as its tricolor side.
Finish off the look with a top gel coat and cure to set.
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