nail art

From subtly patriotic to some serious stars and stripes, we rounded up 20 of our favorite inspiring ideas for Fourth of July–inspired nail art. Click an image to see more from these mani experts. Have a safe and happy 4th!

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This may be the first full week of spring, but warmer temps are still lagging behind (at least here in Seattle). We’ll just have to keep waiting to break out the sunny weather dresses and sandals. Sigh. In the meantime, at least we still can update any look with a fresh and fun mani. Here are a few nail polish ideas we’re loving while we’re waiting for those May flowers.

Pop Art Fade-Out: Essie Greens Polish in ‘Going Icognito’ | Nordstrom Nail Color in ‘Insomnia’ [continue reading…]

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As the go-to manicurist of fashion editors, top photographers, preeminent designers and A-list stars, Jin Soon Choi is a celebrity in her own right. But in talking to her, you’d never know it. Down to earth, enthusiastic, humble and totally cool in a real girl’s girl kind of way, the Korean-born, Manhattan-dwelling Jin makes you feel like an old friend in a matter of minutes.

We connected with Jin, who recently teamed up with Nordstrom to sell her award-winning eponymous collection of JINsoon nail polishes, each named by one of the models she regularly works with. In honor of the new partnership, Jin created a gorgeous nail-art design exclusively for our Beauty Blog. Here, she reveals her inspiration and how-tos for this unique look—and fesses up about her own nails.

BEAUTY CONNECTIONS: This nail design is so artistic—it looks like a [modern abstract expressionist] Jasper Johns painting.
JIN SOON CHOI: Well, I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but you’re right! I’m a huge fan of modern abstract art—MoMA is my favorite museum and I go there all the time, so maybe I was subconsciously influenced. More than anything, I wanted to create a design that was simple, modern and artistic, one that really shows the raw brushstrokes. I love the idea of irregularity, because it lets you have more creative freedom and it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. In fact, that imperfection only makes it better: your mistakes become your art!

Well that’s good news for all of us shaky-handed coffee drinkers in Seattle…
(laughs) Or anywhere! Another thing that inspired me: I was at your Seattle store recently and noticed how much modern art there was hanging on the walls. I wanted to make a design connection to that.

Map, 1961 by Jasper Johns (image courtesy of MoMA)

And the blue shades, what inspired those?
My family lives in Olympia, Washington [south of Seattle], so I’m out there often and love it. I was thinking about the rain and all the surrounding water [from Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean]. And the sky out there is so big and open—completely different from my city life—so I wanted to convey the idea of all those colors in an abstract way.

Just curious: How do you do your own nails? Are you into colors or more nude looks?
Actually, I don’t wear any polish…I’m always doing other people’s nails, in the salon or on shoots, and I want to be able to focus completely on my work and not worry about messing up my own manicure.

What about for special events or a fun night out?
Even then, I don’t wear polish—it takes too much time and I’m just too impatient. I always try to keep my nails cut short, to look neat and professional. To be honest, as I’ve gotten older I’ve also become a bit self-conscious about my hands. When I have more time, I want to develop some good skincare products for hands and feet!

Backstage at the Vera Wang spring ’14 show (photo collage courtesy of Jin Soon Choi)

Lots of the magazine covers and fashion shows you’ve done recently have featured nude nails, which deviates from some of the trends for this season.
I really do appreciate colors for nails, but truly high fashion is all about simple, classic, elegant beauty, especially in Europe, where I do a lot of my shoots [with fashion photographer Steven Meisel, who uses Jin for nail styling on all of his editorials]. The clean-looking nail is so much more my personal style. It’s funny: I did create some glitter polishes for my holiday collection, and some of my friends were like, ‘Glitter? You?!’ I told them, ‘Don’t worry, it’s subtle—and still very me!’

Speaking of being ‘you,’ you seem remarkably unaffected considering all the attention you’ve gotten and the star circles you work in.
I just want to hold on to my identity, to be real—I’m still just a manicurist, after all! I feel so blessed by the amount of support I’ve gotten as I’ve launched my company. All the models I’ve worked with were so excited to help me name my products, even though I couldn’t afford to pay them. They just wanted to be there for me as friends.

I also want to stay true to my longtime clients and try to get into the salons at least once every other week. I have an emotional connection there: when you do someone’s nails every week, you hear about her life, her work, her kids, and you get personally invested in her. It’s important to me to keep in touch with my customers—they’re like family!

How to Create Jin’s Exclusive Nail Art:

Step 1: Start with a clean background, painting one coat of JINsoon ‘Tulle’ Nail Lacquer (a neutral, milky nude polish that doubles as a base coat) on all nails.

Step 2: Begin applying your ‘brushstrokes.’ The key to this effect is to make sure you wipe your brush on the lid edge really well so you don’t have too much polish. Jin begins her brushstrokes at the top but says you can go any direction you like: top to bottom, side to side—remember, it’s YOUR art! Use JINsoon ‘Rhapsody’ Nail Lacquer, a deep navy named by model Coco Rochas.

Step 3: Add more brushstrokes with JINsoon ‘Blue Iris’ Nail Lacquer, a brilliant marine color named by model Saskia de Brauw.

Step 4: Layer on some final brushstrokes with JINsoon ‘Poppy Blue’ Nail Lacquer, an electric, minty blue named by model Tati Cotliar.

Step 5: Finish with JINsoon Top Gloss & Coat to seal in the colors and protect your masterpiece.

Want to check out more amazing nail polishes? Shop our full JINsoon collection.

—Stefanie Frank

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Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be highlighting the experts featured on our Nordstrom Beauty Spot. First up, the delightful manicurist Madeline Poole (from MPNAILS).

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About Madeline. “I’m from Baltimore, MD. I started experimenting with nails about two and a half years ago and went to beauty school in LA. I started working about a year after that, full time, and I just recently moved to New York.

“When I was little my dad asked me what I wanted to be. I said, ‘I just want to be an expert.’ At the time, I didn’t know what kind. But now I am! I usually just say, ‘I’m a manicurist.’ Yes, I am a nail artist, but I’m also a manicurist. I take care of the hands, and clean manicures are beautiful to me. I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a nail artist.”

Beauty Stylist experience. “Stephanie, my stylist, was great! She brought me classic lip colors and a tinted moisturizer—because I’m scared of too much makeup. I like to even out my skin tone because it’s a little blotchy.

“Stephanie introduced me to this Giorgio Armani ‘Flash’ Lip Lacquer (Pink 522). I never wear lip gloss, but it’s almost like you’re wearing a clear gloss and have naturally pink lips. It’s a good lip option for the daytime.

“I love the way mascara looks, but when I’m out all day, I always come home with the raccoon look. Stephanie recommended Trish McEvoy High-Volume Mascara. The comb is really thin. It doesn’t collect a lot of mascara on it.”

Check out Madeline’s step-by-step instructions for three amazing custom-curated nail art looks.

Tips for a professional-quality manicure. “Create a clean canvas. Really prep your nails before you start. Scrub your nails with soap water and really clean them—it really helps and gets rid of cuticle. But don’t cut your cuticles!

“If you want your nail polish to stay longer, swipe with Deborah Lippmann ‘The Stripper’ Nail Lacquer Remover. It removes oil from the nail plate. Oil is the enemy of nail polish. This helps polish adhere longer.

“Also, if you’re looking for long-lasting polish, I’ve found that colors with a bit of shimmer tend to stay better.

“To clean up nail polish spills on skin, use an angled makeup brush (like M•A•C’s #266).”


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Butter LONDON Global Color Ambassador, Katie Hughes, shows us how to create easy, 3D polka dot nail art with the ‘Pop Art Collection’ by butter LONDON.

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Step-by-step instructions from the video below:
1. Begin with one coat of Nail Foundation Flawless Basecoat.
2. Apply two coats of ‘Cheeky Chops’ Nail Lacquer.
3. Use a dotting tool (or ball point pen) to create large dots at random with ‘Keks’ Nail Lacquer.
4. Layer on smaller dots in ‘Primrose Hill Picnic’ Nail Lacquer with the other end of your dotting tool (or something with a finer point, like a toothpick).
5. Let dry 5 to 10 minutes, and apply Hardwear P.D. Quick Topcoat to finish.

Told you it was easy. Now, go get your artsy on with the ‘Pop Art Collection’ by butter LONDON. Lichtenstein would be proud.

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Let your colors fly on the 4th with this festive and easy nail art idea.

Step 1: Paint four of your nails with a bright red polish. We used: Essie Nail Polish in Really Red.

Step 2: Paint your fifth nail with a nautical blue polish. Be sure to let the polish dry completely before moving to the next step. We used: butter LONDON ‘3 Free’ Nail Lacquer in Blagger.

Step 3: Carefully paint white stripes on your blue nail using a fine paintbrush or nail art pen (like NPW Mini Nail Art Pens). Let the stripes dry completely. We used: Deborah Lippmann Nail Color in Amazing Grace.

Step 4: Finish with a quick drying top coat like Ciaté ‘Speed Coat’ Fast Dry Top Coat.

Have a gorgeous Independence Day!

[Story & photos by Stefanie Frank]

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Fab up your sunny-day sandals, and get playful with polish. Our Shoe and Beauty Buyers have teamed up to bring you 16 colorful shoe and polish pairings. It’s your inspirational guide to matches that were just meant to be. Start off your summer foot-fling with these highlights:

Color-Soaked Contrast: Complementary colors will splash your look with eye-catching style. [Pictured: Matiko Wedge & M·A·C Nail Lacquer]

Color-Blocked Consort: Pair your polish with your favorite of the blocked colors. [Pictured: Charles David Sandal & JINsoon Nail Lacquer]

Bold as Brass: Get adventurous with unconventional color and pick up on a hue in a pair that’s patterned or multicolored. [Pictured: Ella Moss Sandal & butter LONDON Nail Lacquer]

Matchy-Matchy: Showcase your most coveted color by letting your toes spread the love. [Pictured: BC Footwear Wedge Sandal & essie Resort Collection Nail Polish]

Heavy Metal: Rock on with your savvy self and offer a glimpse of glitter glam. [Pictured: Corso Como Sandal & Nordstrom Nail Color]

Pastel Perfect: Softer shades may look demure, but they can definitely pack a style punch. [Pictured: Ted Baker London Flip-Flop & Ciaté Paint Pot]

Want more? Shop all 16 shoe and polish pairings.

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It’s Weddings Week here on the Nordstrom blogs! We’ll be getting you all prepped for the big day—whether you’re in the wedding or attending as a best-dressed guest.

First up, something simple and easy to overlook in all the planning: a bride’s nails! Everyone’s been asking to see that ring already, but on the wedding day, it’s serious showtime. Our Flagship Spa Nordstrom manager, Constance McCarty, and her team of manicurists shared these tips and trends for wedding-worthy hands.

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Constance recommends that the bride starts prepping nails one month ahead of time. Come in for a natural manicure, and then come back two weeks prior to the wedding to do a test run of any nail art or embellishment the bride would like for her wedding day; this can always be removed if she’d like to make it a surprise for the wedding. Lastly, the bride and her bridal party should visit once more 1 to 2 days prior to the event for final application.

We’ve also put together a handful of our favorite nail trends that translate beautifully into making a bride’s big day even more special.

Image via Venus Loves Virgo

Bling Finger. This is great for young brides, and the ornate designs complement an indoor church setting nicely. Jeweled, studded and textured nails add perfect drama to the look. For a version that’s easier to maintain, try a simple coat of glitter or a nude color on all nails with a wedding color on your ring finger.

Image via Nature Nails

White Lace Detail. This is perfect for a more modern bride planning an elegant, classic wedding. The details look great for photos and fit all nail shapes and sizes.

Colorful Texture. The Nordstrom Ciate Caviar Collection is ideal for the bachelorette party, bridal shower, any post-event parties or for a surprising, colorful touch on the wedding day.

Reverse French Manicure. This classic look is popular among brides. It’s a clean, chic style that is also easy to maintain. Get the look with Essie colors.

Image via: The Prepster Diaries

Gold Glitter. Adding glitter is perfect for a playful bride who wants to feel glamorous. The glitter will give you that extra sparkle in wedding photos.

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Katie Hughes, butter LONDON’s Global Color Ambassador, gives us a step-by-step guide on creating the cheetah-inspired nail art using colors in Sun Baker, Poole and Torch.

1. Prep by removing all oils from the nail. Do this by sweeping a cotton ball with acetone over the nail surface.
2. Use butter LONDON’s Nail Foundation for a base coat.
3. Apply one coat of the Nordstrom-exclusive color in Torch all over the nail.

4. Paint the tip of a makeup wedge with Sun Baker.

5. Lightly pat the wedge onto the tip of the nail for a subtle fade effect.
Tip: “This fade will work best if Torch is almost dry,” says Katie.

6. Once dry, use a dotting tool or bobby pin to draw little Cs or unfinished circles across the nail with Poole, adding a few stray dots for effect.

7. Let Poole dry, then finish with butter LONDON’s ‘Hardwear P.D. Quick’ Topcoat. And voilà, you’re done!

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