Nail Art "for Art's Sake"

Posted by Rhinestones Unlimited on Jun 18th 2014

Ahh, nails. Self-expression is all in the details, right? Well, nails are definitely a detail. Shellacking the tiniest tips of your paws in color is just as ridiculous as any beauty routine (who thought it necessary to brush gunk on eye hairs to gain points?) but a beloved custom just the same. Who knows why it stuck. Maybe because it’s a pampering act that shows visual results- ones you can actually see in your day to day life. You can shave your legs, spread avocado through your hair, blend a luminous flush into your highest of high cheekbones- but who’s left to reap the rewards of your efforts? Everybody else, that’s who. Unless you work 40 hours in front of a looking glass, the only time you’re reminded of your goddess appeal is when you wash your hands in front of the bathroom mirror or catch a glimpse while passing a shiny city skyscraper (and pretending that you’re not looking at yourself). 

But, give yourself a little manicure, live life with your hands in front of your eyes and every 12.8 seconds (I just made up that statistic) you have a subconscious memo that you’re a fox. Text your buddy? You’re a fox. Type an email? Ooo, hey, you’re a fox. Hands on 10 and 2? Face it, lady. You’re a stone fox. Back in high school, leaving a painting class, I’d proudly remind myself that I was une artiste by leaving the smears and flecks of oil color over my hands. I could see it all day long, and remind myself that I was awesome. (Or, so I liked to think in the days of youth.) I had hard proof! Others could see it all day long, and remind themselves that I was awesome. (Or, so I liked to think in the days of youth.) 

Colorful artificial nails

Pop culture blog writer Tracie Egan Morrissey nailed it when she said, “Nail art isn’t anything except art for art’s sake.” In my easily entertained days of grade school, I remember frequently tracing my hand on a piece of paper and very carefully adding nails to the silhouette, drawing in a few rings and, if I was feeling ultra pink, I’d toss some glamorous compacts and lipstick tubes into the corners. I wouldn’t just color the nails in with markers or colored pencils- oh no, my friend. I’d put the whole page in my Trapper Keeper (no Lisa Frank for me), bring it home and use real nail polish to color my traced fingertips. Even on paper a manicure was a treat and a creative expression. Imagine if I had access to crystals then! 

Nail polish has been around since 3000 BC, and our special shout-out to China on that one. So, why all the hullabaloo these days? My guess is the viral spread of great ideas through visual-themed collectives like Pinterest are just generating worldwide inspiration like a petri dish growing penicillin.

Elaborate nail art has boomed the last few years in part to celebrity style and social media sharing; now, new ideas can be imitated by the public as soon as they’ve seen the light of day. Note here that, like all trends, the novelties will appear and disappear and another extreme will jump in their place, like the flip of a coin. 2016 could bring a trend of matte nude nails to counter the wacky 2012 excess (wait, is this the ‘80s?) or a black painted underneath the nail tip will suddenly become hot; they’ll call it a sexy mechanic look. 

But, according to trend forecasters behind the scenes, make no mistake- the art of the mani-pedi will not be anything but present in generations to come. What will remain is a reminder that we’re not limited to merely the basics of beauty. Our creativity can extend to the very edges of our being (ahem, toenails) and beyond, because we will it to be so. “Nail art…might be the only form of primping and grooming that isn’t rooted in making oneself more appealing to men or exploiting women’s insecurities. It transcends skin color and hair texture and face symmetry and body type.” 

Hearts, cherries

When trying something new, such as bringing in a wild new color- like Tangerine, Emerald or Radiant Orchid (wink wink)- into a mostly beige closet, your nails are a great place to introduce the trend. Dip your toe in, as one might say. If anyone out there is a regular reader of my rants and raves, you know I can go on about color and how our entire being responds to it. It’s a mood changer. If a tiny part of you is feeling like busting out of your beige world but you’re uncomfortable standing out, saturate the itty bitty part of your body that you will constantly see, and thus become more familiar with the shade. Once you’ve accepted it as being appropriate for you on your nails, you’ll find it easier to add it into your life in other ways. 

So, if you’re letting your own creativity run wild with DIY polish jobs, try integrating some of the crystals left over from your latest project. You may find they make you happy just to see them in front of your face throughout the day. Using a toothpick to dot a tiny bit of nail glue on top of dry nail polish, set your stone on the glue, and use a fine detail brush to apply a clear top coat just around the base of the stone to secure it. Don’t bother painting the top coat over the entire stone- it will just diminish the sparkle. When working with gel nail color, the stones can be set into the wet top coat before curing under the UV light. Add another seal of topcoat around the base of the stone and cure under the UV light again for added security. And have fun with the details! This self-expression is something special just for you, to see and remind yourself with every move how killer you really are. 



Rhinestones Unlimited blog author Jemm Stone is a multifaceted girl navigating our sparkly world with on-point insights. Visit to follow her thoughts as she highlights design trends, turns the spotlight on industry influencers and breaks down how-to tips like light through a crystal prism.