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These are the hot nail trends for SS21 (and how to do them)


From fine detail to block colour, there’s something for everyone (Picture: Essie/Getty)

As lockdown restrictions ease, we’re finally able to go back to the nail salon again.

But what should we ask for once we’re there?

Polish brand Essie’s celebrity manicurist Rita Remark is here to help, rounding up the hottest nail trends of the season.

Plus, she shares how to attempt them yourself – so you can skip the salon trip if all the appointments are taken (or you can no longer be bothered).

Rita says when approaching your nails, don’t be afraid ’embrace a bit of playful chaos and blend different looks for a standout manicure’.

‘One trend that will stay strong throughout the year is what I call pattern play,’ she notes. ‘Think: checkerboard, leopard, cow print, polka dots, yin and yang, smiley faces and more.

‘Whether you choose one or many, this is a trend that need not match from nail to nail.

If you’re new to intricate patterns, it’s worth investing in some fine art brushes.

‘They may seem intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, polishing thin lines is like applying cat eyeliner,’ Rita says.

‘Remember to always rinse your brushes fully with 100% acetone to keep them clean. And don’t sweat not being able to nail art your non-dominant hand.’

If intricate looks are beyond your skill and patience, you can try easier looks like polka dot, cow and leopard prints – all you’ll need is a dotting tool or bobby pin.

As for the spring and summer this year, here’s what you can expect to see all over your Insta feed.

Pattern play

Nail stickers make nail art easy (Credits: Essie)

Depending on the pattern you want to create, the complexity and tools needed will vary.

To create the look above, here’s what to do:

Step 1:

  • On the thumb, polish 2-3 coats (for coverage).
  • On the index, with a large dotting tool, apply two dots.
  • On the middle, polish a generous French tip using a detail brush.
  • On the ring, polish two coats of a blue shade.

Step 2:

  • On the index, with a detail brush dipped in polish, draw a thin smile. Then
    finish the smiley face with two dots of the same color using a dotting tool.
  • On the middle, polish a checkerboard by polishing thin grid lines with
    a detail brush and carefully filling in every other square.
  • On the ring, add clouds by polishing a few clusters of dots with a dotting tool. Then, with a detail brush and the same shade, add a line to the bottom of each to create a cloud shape.
  • On the pinky, add a dot of the opposite colour to the middle of each flower.

If you’re not sure this is within your reach, there are always nail stickers, which do the hard work for you.

Graphic swirls

It’s surprisingly easy to do (Credits: Essie)

This trend is great to try if you’re ready to up your nail art game a little, but don’t want to invest in tools – all you need here is the nail polish and its brush.

Step 1: After applying a base coat, use your polish brush to create one to two wavy lines across each nail. Some nails can wear an S shape, others a C.

Step 2: With the same brush, fill in a section of the nail to create a curve. Finish with a top coat.

You can do this with one shade or two complementing ones.

Each nail doesn’t have to look exactly the same either, so it’s an easy one to try.

Unique French twist

Keep it playful (Credits: Essie)

Rita loves this look because it combines a number of trends in one: mismatched manis, unique french twists, and playful graphics.

Step 1: After a base coat, create a diagonal line across the nail with a detail brush. Connecting the line with a French tip to make a semi circle.

Step 2: With the same colors and brush, polish diagonal lines within the semi circle beginning in the middle of the diagonal line and moving outwards.

Step 3: With the same colors and brush, soften the corners of the lines to replicate a citrus slice. Finish with a top coat.

Multi-coloured mani

Push mixing and matching further than last year’s tonal trend (Credits: Essie)

Last year nail enthusiasts were all over ombré nails, which involves picking one tone and graduating the shade across all five nails – so they were technically multi-coloured, but in a subtle.

This summer does away with subtlety and embraces full blown colour, with each nail being a total mismatch.

‘I love to choose colours that vary in vibrancy and depth,’ Rita says. ‘Choose coordinating colours from the following categories: pastel, deep, vibrant.

‘When choosing the order, make sure to not place colours with similar depths beside one another in order.

‘Break up the order by polishing pastels beside darks to prevent the look from becoming an ombré mani.’

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