Nail Art Trends Hit Nail On Head
There’s a new sensation on campus, and it’s on our very fingers. No, it’s not norovirus (although you should be washing those fingers every five seconds)—it’s nail polish. This year, Wesleyan’s campus has seen a creative explosion in nail art. Though traditional manicures are still popular, it’s not surprising in the least to see students pulling off multiple colors at once or employing unusual designs and patterns.
The most popular combination by far is the single accent nail on each hand.
“I always do a statement nail, which means that my ring finger on both hands is a different color than the rest of my nails,” said Beanie Feldstein ’15.
Another common look is multicolored nails, with each finger a different color.
“It seems like anyone who has painted nails has at least one nail a different color,” said Sivan Battat ’15. “I get really overwhelmed by all the colors, so I use them all.”
These two styles seem to be the prevailing trends on campus, with many students making “statements” with their fingers. Others are upping the ante and doing even more creative, crazy things.
Genna DeGroot ’15, a prospective environmental studies and studio art major, designs what are arguably works of art on her nails. She’s a big fan lately of what she calls an “Aztec” design, with intricate dots and sharp, angled lines. She’s also been known to make animal print patterns, like cheetah spots. The process by which she creates these tiny paintings is a time-consuming one, taking 20 minutes to an hour and involving tiny nailbrushes purchased at Rite-Aid. Though it takes effort, DeGroot values her nails as a form of self-expression and even a way of brightening up her own and others’ days.
“People always like it,” DeGroot said. “I like it… I think they look cool. They’re kind of artsy and I’m kind of artsy.”
Her nails stand out so much that her friends (and even strangers) regularly commission her to do their nails.
“It’s become a joke that I’ll set up a nail salon,” DeGroot said.
Even if they’re not prospective studio art majors with a talent for miniature painting, other students—many with weaker hand-eye coordination—are attempting complex patterns and designs. This not-very-artistically-talented writer has tiny, poorly formed red hearts on a white background on her nails as she types this article, in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Others, perhaps less willing to advertise their lack of fine motor skills, use pre-made patterns or polishes that are already unusual.
Abbey Francis ’14 is currently wearing an interesting grey and black ombre-striped polish created by painting her nails and then waving a magnet over them, which causes the magnetic particles in the polish to form a pattern. Marguerite Suozzo-Golé ’15 has noticed girls with matte polish, or polish without a shine, and even has a friend with “peppermint stick” nail polish that creates white and red swirls. Sparkle polishes are another common sight.
Some skip the polish entirely and go straight to nail stickers, which are easily available at Rite-Aid on Main Street and have been very common on students’ nails. Allison Greenwald ’14 is a noted nail stickers enthusiast, and she nearly always dons interesting patterns.
Others use the ever-popular “crackle” nail polish, which acts as a topcoat. You paint it over another color on your nails, then as the polish dries, it actually cracks, exposing the color underneath. However, some nail art purists consider this cheating.
“Make your own cool designs!” ranted Willa Beckman ‘15, about the “Crackle” polish. “Don’t get nail polish that cracks and does cool shit for you.”
But is this phenomenon just confined to Wesleyan hipsters and our desire to constantly assert our individuality, or is it part of a larger trend perpetuated by celebrities and fashion magazines that we’ve just adopted (although I’m sure students started doing it before it was cool)?
Some people have always been experimenting with their nail polish, like Beckman. Her habit of painting each nail a different color began with a childhood nail polish collection—and an effort to curtail a nail biting habit.
“It’s just become part of my routine,” Beckman said.
Others picked it up at Wesleyan.
“Usually all through high school I left my nails blank,” Suozzo-Golé explained. “Then I got to Wes and saw people doing cool things with their nails so I’ve been trying out different things.”
DeGroot agreed that the trend is on campus. “It’s pretty Wesleyan,” she observed.
On the other hand, Feldstein and Battat were inspired by the outside world of fashion magazines—and aren’t too cool to say so.
“I’ve been doing it for a year now,” Feldstein admitted. “I think I saw it in a magazine to be honest. It was kind of a phase over the summer in Glamour.”
Battat also saw the accent nail style in a magazine, but she read about it in Cosmopolitan (apparently they don’t just dispense more-than-slightly sexist sex advice). There was a tip in the magazine that painting one nail a different color exhibits a fun personality and exudes confidence and will presumably help a girl catch a man (I take back what I said before).
“It started as a joke, but we all started doing it,” divulged Battat.
Finding a husband and following fashion magazines aside, nail art is most definitely a widespread phenomenon on campus. In any class year, the time of meek ballet-slipper pink or the demure French manicure is over. Students at Wesleyan are definitely branching out and getting more bold and daring with their nails. Interestingly and ironically enough, painting your nails unusually seems to be a way to express how much you don’t care about your appearance—you’re just looking to have some fun playing around with color and style.
As Beckman put it, “I don’t think it’s a big deal…it’s more fun that way. It’s just an extra way to express yourself.”