At this year's Met Gala, the "Gilded Age" theme reached down to the attendees' nails: exaggerated, embellished, jewel-embellished, glamorous, animal print, embossed, they were creamy (a style that reappeared in Cannes later that month), and they were even twisted into the shape of corkscrews (see Lizzo). Most notably, the nails were long. On the red carpet, the same was true.
"Nails are now as important as your clothes," says Zola Ganzorigt, a Los Angeles-based manicurist whose clients include Sydney Sweeney, Vanessa Hudgens and Hailey Bieber. she says long nails have become widely accepted by young people, often She says long nails have become widely accepted by young people, often because they provide a larger canvas for creative expression.
In the case of Billie Eilish, for example, her long, supernaturally long nails have become her trademark. Her 2-inch-long claws are often painted a deep black with crystal accents or paired with Gucci's interlocking logo or shiny neon green daggers to match the color of her often dyed hair. (You can purchase your own set on Etsy; just search for "Billie Eilish nails.")
Nail artist Jin Soon says long nails have a super-feminine quality, which may be part of their current appeal. "There's a feminine aesthetic that's on the rise right now, and it's attributed to the trend of longer nails," Soon says. They also help fingers look longer and slimmer, says Brittney Boyce, a nail artist and founder of Nails of LA.
Social media has helped fan the flames. "TikTok has definitely driven a lot of nail trends," Boyce says. Trends like #JellyNails (a translucent look reminiscent of '80s jelly sandals) have taken off there, and the #NailTok hashtag has 2.4 billion views. "Social media has made these long nails more visible and gotten more people interested in them," says Canishiea J. Sams, a manicurist in Sacramento, Calif. It has also helped promote an image that was initially cemented in the black community and has been widely popular with women of color for decades, especially acclaimed Olympian Florence Griffith Joyner. "Black women always wore long nails, which was considered 'unprofessional' or 'ghetto,'" Sams said. "It wasn't until pop culture came in and recognized it that it became OK or 'acceptable,' which is sad."
Ganzorigt says people who have never considered extreme nails before are now being drawn to them. Acrylics are the traditional choice for adding length immediately. "Increase [e] the length of your nails [with] every appointment and see which style and length works best," Sams says. Fillers cover the gap between the acrylic and cuticle, protecting the integrity of the natural nail underneath, and should be done every two to three weeks. Leave the removal to the technician.
But today, there are other extension options, such as gel extensions, which are lighter and more flexible. "The process is the same for acrylic and gel extensions, but gels are softer and less harmful than acrylics. I prefer gel extensions because they look more natural, are easier to remove and are less harmful to the nail," says Soon, who calls the Aprés Gel-X nail extension system a game changer.
Press-on nails have also experienced their own resurgence in popularity. Says Boyce, "Since the pandemic, people have gravitated toward press-on, and I think it helps them see what long nails look like." Nail care brand Olive & June added press-on products to its lineup last year. "It's also a super low-commitment way to play with length," says Sarah Gibson Tuttle, founder of Olive & June. "You can easily get the look of a hand-painted salon manicure in a matter of minutes."
A good press should last about two weeks, although their longevity depends on the application. For better adhesion, first use topical alcohol to remove excess oil from the nail. "Reduce the size so that each part of the press sticks to your nail bed," says Boyce. "The pressed pieces should lay flat on your nail." To remove them, Boyce recommends soaking your nails in soapy water for 10-15 minutes to loosen the glue, then gently shaking them from side to side until they pop out, then immediately applying cuticle oil to the nail. Most importantly, resist the urge to choose. "Don't pick, don't peel off your nail polish, don't peel off your gel, don't peel off your pressed pieces because it will lift a little bit off your nail plate," Gibson Tuttle says. "It can also damage your cuticles."
Going the natural route is another option. "People are more conscious of natural nail growth now than ever before," says Soon. There are many ways to encourage and maintain their length. First, Gibson Tuttle says, make nail care a part of your grooming. For example, file your nails regularly. "Get in the habit of taking care of your nails and they'll grow," Gibson Tuttle says.
Living with longer nails is probably the most important thing to get used to. Be prepared to relearn certain movements, such as zipping up jeans and typing, that should be done with your fingertips, not your fingertips. While they may look like knives, don't use your long nails as a tool for opening soda cans and the like, Sams says. And, most importantly, consider your lifestyle when deciding on length. "Long nails aren't for everyone," she says. "You still want to function."
The Long and the Longer of It
Products for nailing the long nail look.
A premium blend of honeysuckle and evening primrose oils to deeply moisturize and nourish nails and cuticles. 35 USD
Each extension kit comes with a double-sided file buffer, cuticle stick, adhesive tabs, nail glue and 24 nails of various sizes.16 USD
Set of 24 nails for finding the ideal fit, plus a double-sided buffer and file, cuticle stick and non-toxic glue in a graphic monochrome design. 16 USD
With the revival of Y2K, French Mani is making a comeback. Made primarily from post-consumer recycled materials, these nails feature a modern almond shape and iridescent tips. Available in 21 sizes with 42 nails, these kits have a democratic appeal. 12 USD
A longtime favorite for nail care, this cuticle oil is made with vitamin E and jojoba oil. 9 USD
Canishiea J. Sams' two nail strengthening treatments are Breathable Calcium Boost, a vegan fortification rich in calcium, vitamin B5 and vitamin C; and Nailtrition, a 14-day treatment that promotes nail growth and addresses any damage caused by gels or acrylics. 15 and $7
This durable glass file is gentle on nails, smoothes edges and helps prevent splitting. It can be easily cleaned with warm water.12 USD
A set of four nail polishes - mint green, cherry red, holographic clear, and the right amount of mushroom gray - from the beauty brand founded by Harry Styles. 65 USD
Hands need sun protection too. This sunscreen happens to be moisturizing and fast-absorbing. 38 USD
Keeping your hands and nails moisturized is key. This squalane and fatty acid-based moisturizer does the job without leaving a greasy residue.20 USD
High-gloss lacquer formula is durable and adds coconut oil for hydration. 25 USD, or $12 for Beauty Pie members