Through the magic that is Instagram, the #GlassNails trend from Korea picked up just as much traction as the #KylieJennerChallenge earlier in the year, but unlike the latter, no shattered shot glasses, or any glass for that matter, were involved in the creation of this year's hottest manicure import. "I wanted to mimic the iridescent surface of abalone shells on nails, but since there wasn't any nail polish to do this, I wanted to come up with another way," says Eunkyung Park, creator of the method and owner of Seoul's Unistella nail salon. "I cut up a cellophane candy wrapper into pieces and tried putting them on my nails, but it was too thick to create the look I wanted, so I searched around for the right one." After some trial and error, Park eventually found a much-thinner cellophane to work with, and the trend became so popular, she developed her own set of stick-on appliques to mirror the design achieved in the salon.
The Unistella nail stickers are only available in Korea, but fortunately, you can still DIY the look using thin pieces of cellophane, usually available at your local Michael's or Hobby Lobby—just be sure to cut them into small, workable pieces before lacquering up, otherwise things could get messy pretty quickly. "Cutting up the cellophane film takes the most time, however, if it's already been cut into pieces, the process usually takes around 20 minutes," Park adds. "If you're trying it out for the first time, use 1 to 3 pieces of shattered glass per nail instead of many at once until you get better at it, and put on a few layers of top coat for the best result." To save you some frequent flier miles, we asked two nail pros for tips on how to DIY the effect, using regular nail polish or your at-home gel system. Keep reading to get the step-by-step instructions!
If You're Using Nail Polish
Believe it or not, you don't need a shellacked layer of gel to seal in the cellophane, but keep in mind that you will need a top coat on the thicker side to keep the edges from peeking through. Start with a layer of base coat as you normally would, then follow by layering on the color of your choice. "The effect looks great over neutral shades," says Ciaté nail ambassador Rebecca Wilson, who recommends the Amazing Gracie shade ($8; sephora.com), or using a burgundy base for a holiday look. "Place the shards on your nails while they are still tacky, leave to set for a couple of minutes, then seal in place with a quick-dry top coat for longevity." Park recommends applying 2 or 3 layers of top coat to completely seal the deal.
If You're Using Gel
Gel formulas will stay intact for a week or two longer than your traditional polish, and in addition to providing a thicker top coat to keep the cellophane in place, we're big fans of the fact that there's no drying time involved. Elsa Barbi, OPI's brand ambassador, recommends starting with a layer of gel base coat, and once you let it cure for 30 seconds, follow by applying two thin coats of your favorite GelShine hue ($14; sallybeauty.com), curing for 30 seconds each between coats. While the gel is still sticky, place your cellophane accordingly, and seal into place with the OPI GelShine Top Coat ($14; sallybeauty.com). After your last 30-second pass under the LED light, wipe away any residue, and begin wildly posting your #GlassNail handiwork all over Instagram.