This Spring Manicure Has Us All In A Flutter

By Charlie Colville

3 weeks ago

This trend is spreading its wings this season

We’ve got some serious butterflies this spring – and we don’t mean your classic garden variety. Butterfly nails took over TikTok earlier this year, and the trend is set to make its way to salons this season. Here’s how to get the look, according to a professional manicurist.

What Are Butterfly Nails?

‘Butterfly nails are a nail art design that mimics the intricate and colourful patterns of butterfly wings,’ explains manicurist and Mylee Senior Ambassador Tinu Bello. ‘This style usually involves painting or applying decals of butterfly designs onto the nails, while incorporating beautiful colours and intricate detailing to mimic the delicate and beautiful appearance of wings.’

@zillabeau these butterfly nails have us MESMERIZED 😭😍 #fyp #foryou #gelnails #nailtech #네일튜토리얼 #nailtutorial #butterflynails #nailart #magneticgelnails #magneticgel #trendynails #butterflynailsart ♬ love nwantinti (ah ah ah) – CKay

For those of us who grew up in the 2000s, it feels like a very nostalgic trend – bringing to mind images of butterfly clips, rhinestone crop tops and plenty of hot pink. ‘It really fits in with the Y2K trend, hence its popularity on social media, particularly amongst a younger audience,’ agrees Tinu. The surge on social media seems most prevalent on TikTok, where you’ll find over 154 million posts tagged under #setofbutterflynails. ‘This is a nail art look that is highly aesthetic and makes for the perfect mani moment on social media.’

But what makes them so appealing, aside from the Y2K appeal? ‘Their whimsical and intricate nature is also really appealing to those who like a more bespoke, customised nail look, as the options are endless when it comes to a butterfly wing design,’ suggests Tinu. ‘On a deeper level, butterfly nails carry symbolic meanings of transformation, freedom, and beauty, which really resonates with a lot of clients.’

How To Ask For Butterfly Nails In The Salon

‘You can simply ask your tech for butterfly nails, or a butterfly wing effect in the salon,’ says Tinu, who also recommends you do a little research before your appointment to help narrow down the design you’d like to try. ‘Specify your preferred aesthetic (photos are aways great for this), nail shape and colour palette. Make sure you also discuss your desired visual outcomes, so the tech can decide between hand-painting and decals. Also, make sure to be clear about any additional embellishments such as gems or glitter from the outset. Clear communication at consultation stage ensures that your artist understands your vision and can create butterfly nails that perfectly suit your style and nail goals.’

@nailsbysophia17 #butterfliesnails#nailstutorial #nailsart#designnails ♬ universe (sped up) – thuy

Hoe To Recreate The Look At Home

Keen to give it a go? Tinu shares her failsafe guide to creating butterfly nails (and it’s beginner friendly). ‘If you are a nail novice, this design could take some experimentation, time, and practice, as it can be intricate,’ she says. Below, she lays out the steps to getting the look:

  1. Prep: To create butterfly nails at home using gel polish, start by prepping your nails: shape and buff them to your desired length and shape, gently push back your cuticles, and ensure your nails are clean and dry.
  2. Base Coat: Apply a thin layer of gel base coat to each nail and cure it under a UV or LED lamp.
  3. Base Colour: Then, choose a base colour for your nails, pink and lilac work beautifully for butterfly nails, and apply a thin layer of gel polish, curing it under the lamp.
  4. Create The Wing Shape: Now it gets trickier. Using a fine nail art brush, create a web effect of butterfly wings on your nails using a darker shade than your base. A lot of people will opt for black to really highlight the wing shape. Make sure to fan the wing outwards, to give the illusion of flight.
  5. Add Details: Then, add details such as dots, lines, or patterns to the butterfly wings using a contrasting colour of gel polish. You can also add embellishments at this stage, such as gems and crystals, which can really elevate the design. You may also want to highlight your lines with a glitter polish. Remember to cure the polish between each coat.
  6. Top Coat: Once you’re satisfied with the aesthetic, apply a thin layer of gel top-coat to seal in the design and add shine, curing it under the lamp for the final time.
  7. Finish: Finally, use a nail cleanser to remove any sticky residue left on the nails after curing the top-coat, and apply your favourite nail oil and moisturiser.

The Future Of Butterfly Nails

Tinu reckons that variations in finish will be what helps this trend evolve throughout the season. ‘For SS24, I think we will see a lot of variation in base coats,’ she says. ‘I envisage a lot of pearlescent finishes, glazing and even ombre gradients before the wings are applied. I think we will also see more 3D shapes, in the form of bold embellishments, and thick, layered polishes.’

Nail Inspiration

1. Blue Butterflies


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2. Shimmer Wings


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A post shared by Miley Do’s Nails (@miley.nailtown)

3. Golden Hues


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A post shared by Nails by Venyra (@v.nailedit_)

4. Butterfly French Tips

5. Detailed Dots

6. Chrome Wings


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A post shared by gelcoco (@_gelcoco)

7. Nude Blush


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8. Extra Sparkle


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A post shared by Miami Nail Artist (@innaxnails)

9. Lilac Butterflies


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A post shared by nails • manicures (@elisem.nails)

10. Rainbow Shimmer

Featured image: @by_millimac on Instagram