Pink and white will forever be remembered as the basic square nail set with not enough pizazz. Nail techs, especially black nail techs, had been on the rise. People desiring to have more than basic square nails were finally in luck. The nail experience had been changed by shapes, stones, and artwork.
“The excitement and creativity of nails and the uniqueness of the nails is what attracted me to nails and wanting to start a career in doing nails,” says Autumn Crumity
Metro Atlanta nail techs interviewed for this story, believe the nail craze started around 2010 and escalated in recent years. Certain nail enhancements, such as acrylics, have been around for a long time. Acrylic nails are formed by a powder mixed with a solution that hardens on the nail. After the mixture is applied to the nail, it can be filed into any shape and treated like natural nails.
“I always wanted nail enhancements, and my mom always told me no,” says Crumity. “Then finally, at the age of 16, I begged her to let me do nail enhancements for homecoming, and she finally gave in, and I have been doing my nails ever since.”
Nail enhancements are anything decorative on top of fingernails. This can include acrylics, gel polish, stones, or crystals, and many other nail trends. Crumity had been doing her nails since she was 13 years old. Her Instagram is filled with square and a few coffin shapes.
“As far as shaping, my signature is coffin. I’ve been told I am known as the coffin queen,” she says.
The coffin shape is exactly how it looks. The fingernails are shaped into the form of a coffin with the smaller end on the tip. The major difference between square and coffin is that coffin is formed on longer nails.
What sets each nail tech apart is the variety of talent and skills. A tech’s signature is always recognizable. Crumity’s style includes very simple and clean work. Her nails aren’t extremely out there in style like her colleagues.
“I only gonna give you a little bit of razzle-dazzle. I can give you the other stuff,” says Michelle Jackson from Poochiez Pawz Nail Studio. She had worked at many nail salons and learned how to develop her style from the experience.
Jackson enjoys making her nails look clean. Doing basic sets with a bit of attitude was her signature. But Jackson wasn’t focused on her signature as much as she was trying to change the stereotypes about black nail techs.
“I give you a different look of the black nail tech,” says Jackson. “A lot of people think of a stereotype. Not a lot, but certain people think of a stereotype when dealing with black nail techs. That she’s not talkative or she’s not connected to her client. And I try to do that.”
Nowadays, painting your nails means a lot more than just adding a splash of red or pink, it means putting artwork onto your nails. Rachel Odom easily painted anything she wanted into a nail. She also works at Poochiez. She is very into graphic art. Using her creativity to the fullest allows her to paint cartoon characters onto a small canvas and not lose the details.
Most of Odom’s Instagram photos include nails with art, or a junk nail, or both. The two complement each other and add flare to the nail. Junk nails were several beads, Swarovski crystals, or other glamorous stones, like items glued onto the fingernail. Odom says she uses Gorilla Glue to keep them in place on the nails. Afterwards, she adds a gel top coat to secure the stones further.
“My stones don’t come off!” Odom says. She recorded a video seen on Instagram to inform her followers.
Even though acrylics are in, gel manicures are just as popular. Gel manicures also allow some of the same things you can get on the acrylic nail. With gel manicures, getting junk nails is still possible but would need to be soaked before the next appointment.
Even though there were many different things to put on your nails, younger women weren’t into the junk nails and the fancy nail art.
“Young ladies wanna be more simple. Like there extra stuff on my hand is not working with my workout,” says Jackson.
“I think that it’s all based on the current trends that is going on. The most popular people and what they’re doing. The most popular people, like Kim Kardashian, they are pretty much doing the nude nail,” Odom says. Her older clients like the extravagant work on their nails.
“They do like their bling,” Odom adds. “And they’re also doing the acrylic art. Which is like the faded pink and white nails, the glow-in-the-dark nails and the encapsulated art that’s inside the nails.”
Encapsulated art is when an object appears fossilized inside the acrylic.
“You can put glitter, foil, some people do bugs, beads all kinds of different stuff. The good thing about the encapsulated nail is that you have your stuff inside your nail as long you have the nail set. It’s like a permanent design,” Odom explains. She actually placed marijuana into one of her client’s nails. This photo was placed on her Instagram page.
Odom’s nails were shaped into stilettoes. They were sharp enough to stab anything. They were also her favorite shape. Stiletto nails, imitate high heels worn on the feet. They are filed to a point that makes them sharp at the ends. This shape can only be achieved by using longer acrylic nails.
Nails techs copy each other a lot, mainly because they look to each other for ideas. But coming up with their own trends isn’t as easy.
“Majority of the stuff we do is all trial and error. We see what’s on trend and try to stay on trend too,” Odom says. For nail techs, YouTube and Instagram provide major inspirations. Since the two platforms are based all around the world, nail techs can try to duplicate, or sometimes perfect, an upcoming style. But, as with all trends, they come to an end.
Even though nail techs look to each other for inspiration, fashion inspires a lot of their work. Nails and nail art is an ongoing fashion that will continue to be pushed to its limits by fashion and creative nail techs that want to add flavor to their client’s nails.