Some fashion trends are so odd that they leave you wondering how they ever caught on. Take this latest ‘bubble nails’ craze – bulbous acrylic fingernails painted in a variety of colors and patterns.
The technique has apparently been around since 2009, but has only gained popularity recently, after a series of photos went viral on Instagram. Due to the growing demand, beauticians are having to teach themselves the art, through trial and error. They start by placing a ball or multiple balls of acrylic at the center of the nail, and builds it out by adding layers. Then, they paint it as per the customer’s choice.
“The point is to make it pop more,” said celebrity nail artist Pattie Yankee. She added that clients in the ’80s would ask for accentuations of their natural nail hump, but it was never this exaggerated.
For a perfect bubble nail, the acrylic has got to be thinner near the cuticle, gradually building up to a bump towards the middle, and then thinning out at the tip again. There are variations in the trend too – like hump nails that use a longer nail for a base, and hook nails that are so long that they bend over the fingers.
Because bubble nails require technical expertise, they can’t really be done as DIY projects. And they don’t come cheap. According to Yankee, salons charge an additional $10 to $15 over a normal acrylic treatment for the bulbous effect. None of these styles can be worn for extended periods though, because prolonged exposure to acrylic can damage the nails.
“If done properly it would be safe as long as it’s not worn for a long period of time,” Yankee explained. “I would wear for at the most a month and then switch to a regular style.”
Thousands of women are posting pictures of their own swollen nails on Instagram, with the hashtag #bubblenails.