The best thing about a gel manicure is that it comes with travel insurance. Whatever shellac polish you pick — your go-to neutral or something more elaborate off the nail-art menu — it’s locked in for a good three weeks, and you don’t have to be precious when opening your laptop or buttoning your shirt.
Of course, the longevity factor also means you want to be a little bit more choosy with what you request — both because you’re paying more than you would for a regular manicure, and you don’t want to get sick of it after the first five days.
To save you from acting on impulse (whenever you feel comfortable re-entering your local nail salon), we’ve rounded up the most popular nail art requests — specific to gel manicures — in the slides, ahead. Even if you’re not going to book an appointment quite yet, scroll anyways because these looks can just as easily serve as inspiration for your next at-home manicure.
You can’t go wrong with a nude manicure, especially with gel polish. Find the right nude for your skin tone, and you have a manicure that goes with every cardigan sweater in your closet for weeks. This look in particular, by nail artist Lysanne Baars, features OPI’s Gel polish formula in the shade Bubble Bath.
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I wanted to try something new with a skittles mani. 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐨 𝐰𝐞 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝟏𝟎 𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐬 instead of 5‽ 😍 Using all of my favorites from @leminimacaron — Chocolate Cherry Cranberry Blood Orange Pomegranate Bordeaux • Rum Raisin Rose Buttercream Nude Brigitte Creme Brûlée • Cuticle cuff: Golden Glow ✨
The Skittles nail-art trend is still alive and well, and you can easily make it work with a soft-gel manicure. Simply pick five to 10 different polish shades within the same colour family — like this example of blended reds and pinks by nail artist Amy Le — and orient them in shade-ascending order.
Paintbox Studio, one of New York City’s trendiest nail salons, features a rotating nail art menu that’s exclusive to gels. One of the most popular requests is this oblong negative-space design, which marries minimalism with maximalism.
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Frenchies …. it’s been a while 🤍 Biab 19, Daisy, Marshmallow finished with Extreme Shine Top Coat and TGB oil 🤤🤤 @the_gelbottle_inc Prepped obvs with my girls Doris, Ethel and Helen always @navyprotools #thegelbottleinc #navyprotools #naturalnails #frenchnails #frenchies #tgb #thegelbottlemarshmallow #biab #thegelbottlebiab #perfectprep #navypro #navyhygeine #nailitdaily #nailitmag #showscratch #scratchmagazine
No matter what kind of manicure you’re into — gel, acrylic, or dip powder — the classic French is the design that never fails. As it pertains to gels specifically, we love a traditional French with rounded or almond-shaped tips to modernise the look, similar to this visual out of UK nail salon Girl Code.
While these shiny flecks of gold look hand-painted, they’re actually stamped onto the nail using foil over clear adhesive. Paired with gold wire, it makes for a festive manicure that is much less likely to flake off with a sturdy gel top coat. It’s a super easy add-on for any gel manicure; just bring this photo example — courtesy of Chicago’s Pear Nova Studio — to your next appointment.
If you hold a more-is-more philosophy when it comes to nail art, you’ll love this mix-and-match trend. Similar to the colour gradient look, you pick a different design for each finger — as evidenced by this happy manicure from London-based manicurist Imarni Nails. When cured under a UV light, you can rest assured that all 10 decals will last for weeks, and you won’t end up with sad, picked-off cherry decals in a few days.
Over the years, it’s become clear that glitter nail polish is no longer seasonally specific to December and January. On the contrary, when it comes to a gel manicure, you’d be on-trend adding some fine-grained shimmer this fall, maybe with this sheer pearlescent gel from Pear Nova.