The Sophisticated Set: Pearl Nails Are Trending

By Charlie Colville

3 weeks ago

Quiet luxury just got an upgrade

There are few manicures that stand the test of time – and, admittedly, the test of seasonal change – but pearl nails might be the rare exception to the rule. Whether you’re after the perfect winter pick-me-up or a summer-ready set, this is the manicure to have on your radar this season.

What Are Pearl Nails?

‘Pearl nails are an elegant nail design with a shiny, pearlescent finish, giving them a look similar to real pearls,’ explains Jessica Harper, nail technician at 10outof10. ‘They have a smooth surface that catches the light beautifully. You can choose from classic colours like white and soft pink or go for bolder shades like lavender or mint green.’

It’s been something of a slow burn for pearlescent nail art. In recent years, pearls have become a must-have staple in jewellery boxes – with pearlcore taking over the runway at a succession of Fashion Week presentations – and makeup bags – we hear pearl skin is still going strong. But, this season, we’re setting our sights on the nail salon. TikTok has become a hub for pearly nail inspiration, with millions of videos tagged under searches for #pearlnails, #pearlpolish and #chromepearlnails.

@jesslizs Replying to @greatbridgeofhylia more natural nail content? ✨ #Tiktoktaughtme #tiktokpartner #haileybiebernails #haileybiebernailtutorial #nailsathome #easydiynails #chromenails ♬ Memories – Lux-Inspira

But what, exactly, is driving the trend? ‘Pearl nails are becoming popular because they combine simplicity with luxury, making them perfect for both everyday wear and special occasions,’ suggests Jessica. ‘The pearlescent effect aligns with current trends that favour minimalistic yet standout nail art. Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have also helped make this trend popular.’

How To Ask For Pearl Nails In The Salon (& What To Expect)

If this sounds like your kind of manicure, then it’s time to book an appointment at the salon. Once sat down, it’s then just a matter of settling on a design with your nail technician. ‘Bring plenty of reference photos to your appointment,’ recommends Jessica. ‘Show pictures of pearl nail designs you like to help your nail tech understand what you want. It also helps to define the finish; ask for a pearlescent or iridescent finish and mention any specific colours you prefer. You should also mention to your nail tech if you want extras like glitter, rhinestones or a particular nail shape.

‘When you’ve decided on your chosen design, your nail tech will then start to create the look for you,’ she continues. ‘This process will run as follows:

  1. Base Preparation: Nails are cleaned, shaped, and buffed.
  2. Base Coat: A base coat is applied to protect the natural nails.
  3. Pearlescent Polish: A special pearlescent nail polish or powder is applied. This might involve multiple coats to achieve the desired opacity and shimmer.
  4. Top Coat: A high-shine top coat is applied to seal the design and enhance the pearlescent effect.
  5. Curing: If gel polish is used, nails are cured under a UV or LED lamp between coats.’
@simlynail Pearl is always classy #pearlnails #viralnails #nailart #nailtutorial ♬ street, kiss better – speed – Libra

How To Recreate Pearl Nails At Home

If a trip to the salon is off the cards, don’t worry. Jessica shares some of her tips and trips for recreating pearl nails at home:

  • Use Quality Products: Invest in high-quality pearlescent nail polishes or powders.
  • Practice Patience: Apply thin, even coats and allow each layer to dry completely before adding the next.
  • Top Coat: Always finish with a high-shine top coat to enhance the pearlescent effect.
  • Nail Prep: Properly prepare your nails by cleaning, shaping, and buffing them before application.

What Next?

Will pearl nails stand the test of time? Our nail expert says they will, but we’ll continue to see them evolve in subtle (and not so subtle) ways. ‘I think we’ll see more mixed media,’ muses Jessica. ‘Combining pearlescent nails with other textures like matte or metallic finishes. More detailed designs that use the pearlescent effect, such as floral patterns or geometric shapes will also crop up, and I expect we’ll see designs expanding beyond traditional colours to include a wider range of hues. And, lastly, I see there being more 3D elements; adding actual tiny pearl embellishments for a more tactile and luxurious feel.’

Manicure Inspiration


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Featured image: Getty Images