Blooming Gel Nail Art Turns Tips Into Trippy, One-of-a-Kind Masterpieces
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Nail innovations didn't stop with matte and crackling topcoats or even magnetic options. Blooming gel nail art is the latest look to sprout from a recent advancement in the industry, alongside 3D jelly — and it's taking over tips left and right internationally.
A special translucent formula, typically from the brand The Gel Bottle Inc, is painted onto nails before droplets of colorful gel polishes are placed on top of it while the clear gel is still wet and uncured, British nail artist Imarni explains to Allure. The colors end up spreading out into fun, aura-like orbs in a variety of shapes and sizes that never look the same way twice. She recently brought the technique to FKA Twigs' nails with a selection of neons for a summery snakeskin moment.
Depending on how your nail artist adds bold hues to your nails, blooming gel can produce a myriad of different effects. In addition to making it look like an animal print, "you can do marble vibes or an abstract effect," Austrian nail artist Johanna Schüßleder tells Allure. “Actually, there are no borders or rules with blooming gel; just let it bloom."
The technique's popularity has flowered out of how satisfying the nail art is to execute, Schüßleder says. Seeing the colors expand is almost like watching a lava lamp warm up on your nails if you ask me. Plus, no matter what you do with the versatile clear coat, the result is always stunning. It can be as simple or complex as you wish. No matter what, your final blooming gel nail art will be colorfully kaleidoscopic.
What is the blooming gel nail art process like?
Nail artists always start off blooming gel nail art with two layers of a cured base coat color. Then, add one coat of blooming gel all over each nail. While it's uncured, they paint on different gel polish colors in whatever shape they want. (Lately, New York City-based nail artist Alex Smith has been using psychedelic artist Bruce Riley's work as references.) The colors will float around the blooming gel. Once they're please with how the gel polishes moved around atop the blooming gel, the nails are cured.
For a snakeskin look, Imarni kicks things off with a vibrant green hue as the base color. Then, she applies a coat of blooming gel. From there, she drops black gel polish down the center of the nail and smaller dots along the sides. As the gel disperses, scale-like designs will develop.
Schüßleder likes to freestyle her blooming gel nail art, instead of planning out the exact effect she's going to create. Sometimes, she even only adds blooming gel to the tips of her client's nails for a groovy French manicure. Next, Schüßleder dabs on bright gel polish hues on top of the wet blooming gel with a nail dotting tool. To make the look more multidimensional, she adds another layer of colors after the first round is cured and occasionally some gems or pearls as well.
How to experiment with blooming gel nail art at home
If you have the right gel nail supplies at home, Schüßleder and Smith say you can master blooming gel nails yourself as it's not that difficult of a technique to nail. The Gel Bottle Inc.'s formula is available online for $21 per bottle, but only certified professionals can add it to their carts. Fortunately, Luxapolish offers the next best thing with its $17 Bloom Art Gel.
Le Mini Macaron 1-Step Gel Manicure Kit
Luxapolish Bloom Art Gel
And if you don't have blooming gel on hand, you can easily mimic the nail-art technique in a way Smith has in the past. "If you leave a layer of gel topcoat uncured and add droplets of other colors on top, you can swirl it around into a nice design, giving it a similar blooming gel look," she explains.
Although it doesn't spread in the same way, this technique is a good substitute in a pinch. You can follow these same steps with a gel-effect topcoat, like the Best of Beauty-winning Essie Gel-Setter, and standard nail lacquers, too.
Essie Gel-Setter Top Coat
For those who would rather leave their blooming gel nails to the professionals, Smith suggests showing your nail artist any of the photos above as references. "The trend is so new, so not everyone has blooming gel," she adds. "But it's not impossible to achieve the look without that specific product." Then, get ready for some visual ASMR while your one-of-a-kind nail art blooms before your very eyes.