Jelly Nails Are Back Again

In the early ‘80s, Jellies were the shoe of the moment. In the ‘90s, the rainbow-colored sandals came back into fashion. And just last year there was yet another resurgence. There’s a pattern of nostalgia here — the same one that’s happened on our nails. Right now, jelly nails — with the same translucent concept as the coveted sandals — are the manicure of spring… once again.

Though soft and sheer pastels aren’t groundbreaking for this season, the way we are wearing the color palette is. “The Y2K vibe has a futuristic twist [with the 3D designs],” says nail artist and educator for V Beauty Pure Noodle Yess. TikTokers are definitely on board: The #jellynails tag has 427.4 million views and over 16 thousand videos (just in case you need some references).

If you’re not the biggest fan of nail art,New York City-based nail artist Julie Kandalec says this is the perfect way to “wear a nail ‘look’ without it being a literal design.” For instance, several coats of sage green polish with a glossy finish resemble an apple Jolly Rancher. “It’s pretty and feminine,” says Kandalec.


Tweezerman Glass Nailcare Set

In their most basic form, jelly nails are easy to DIY, which could be one reason the trend keeps coming back. After prepping your nails with a nail grooming set (this one from Tweezerman is a favorite) Kandalec says to apply one to four layers of jelly nail polish. The fewer coats you apply, the more transparent your manicure will appear. Plenty of polish brands have jelly formulas in their lineups: We love Cirque Colors, Lights Lacquer Cherry Jelly, and the new JinSoon Glazed Glass Collection. It’s one way to brighten up the typical clean girl mani of the past.

While you can certainly stick to this simple iteration of the look, amongst those aforementioned 16 thousand videos on TikTok you’ll also find a number of modern 3D jelly nails enhanced with designs like swirls and bows — globs and water-like droplets are also popular iterations. The 3D jelly nail trend began in Korea and Japan and has steadily been gaining popularity stateside thanks to mesmerizing manicures created by nail artists like Miki Higuchi, Nic Tran, and Fleury Rose.

V Beauty Diamond Gel Nail Adhesive

To create these patterns New York City-based nail artist Elle Gerstein suggests using builder gel like V Beauty Pure Diamond Gel. “It’s got a thicker viscosity so you’ll have to cure it [with an LED lamp],” says Gerstein. Dip a thin nail art brush in builder gel and paint on your desired pattern before curing. Add more layers (curing after each one) to make your design thicker.

Regardless of whether you go for a single-polish manicure or something more intricate, Kandalec predicts lilac, peach, cherry red, and ocean blue will be the trendiest jelly shades as we head into the warmer months, though the entire rainbow is certainly on the table. If you can’t wait to get your hands on a special jelly polish, you can create the look with any regular nail lacquer: Mix a few drops of your favorite nail polish color with clear nail polish to achieve the perfect sheer shade, says Kandalec. (This only works for regular polish; if you prefer a gel manicure, Kandalec recommends the Kiarasky Gel Polish The Jelly Tint Collection.)

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