Master the nail art contouring trend and create the illusion of longer nails with these expert tips and the hottest shades.
Contouring was one of the most popular nail looks seen at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) for spring/summer 2017. Editorial manicurist Jin Soon Choi showcased the trend at the Vera Wang show, using negative space to mimic the appearance of longer nails.
While the trend was a hit on the runways, it can also be a great technique to use in the salon for clients who struggle with growing their nails. “Whether your client has wide or short nails or bitten cuticles, contouring can draw attention away and create the appearance of longer, sleeker, thinner nails,” says Chelsea Baart, global artist and educator for OPI. “Apply polish down the middle of the nail, leaving the sidewalls with negative space or a nude colour.” For a take on the minimalistic looks seen at NYFW, Baart recommends finishing the nails with a matte topcoat.
While contouring can help mask clients’ insecurities, proper nail care is essential. “Nail health is the most important part because nails are our canvas,” says Mylan Araujo, education ambassador for CND. “A lot of clients worry when they don’t have long nails, but as long as they have clean, healthy nails, you can play with negative space. That’s what’s great about negative space nail art: Even if they only have a little bit of nail to play with, you can still make their nails look longer.” To enhance the nail surface, prep with CND RidgeFx to smooth out ridges and conceal imperfections.
Just like the looks seen at NYFW, Araujo suggests using darker colours like CND Vinylux Black Pool and Tinted Love with negative space for a more dramatic look. “Back in the day, dark nails were considered too dramatic, but now we’re seeing professionals like doctors and lawyers wearing darker colours,” she says. “Now we’re contouring the nails and elevating the look to the next level.”
Since clients may opt for brighter colours this season, Baart says there are many different ways to achieve the contoured nail look. “You can play with nudes, calm pinks or bright, bold colours like reds and neons,” she suggests. “Or instead of a stripe in the middle of the nail, you can create a monochromatic look. For example, with light pink and dark pink, if you use the lighter colour on the full nail and apply a crescent moon around the edge with the darker colour, that’s another way of creating the illusion of a smaller, longer, sleeker nail bed.”
While nail art can be hit or miss with clients, when it comes to contouring, it’s all about gauging their comfort level. “Contouring is an art, so as long as the nails are clean and manicured you can really do anything with it,” says Araujo. “It’s the easiest nail art that pleases clients and lets them leave with an edgy look that’s not too out there.”
Get the Look: Top Polishes to Recreate the Contouring Look