Velvet Nails Dominate the Trend Cycle Every Fall — and the Look Is Actually Super Easy to DIY

Here’s how to shop three affordable methods.

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Like Clockwork Every Fall Velvet nail Polish Returns To The Spotlight
Photo:

Ulta

George Costanza once said, “I would drape myself in velvet if it were socially acceptable.” Granted, he said this in the ‘90s and was referring to clothing (and more specifically, sweatsuits), but it holds true come fall and winter, when velvet nails inevitably make their seasonal debut. 

Every year for the last five-ish years, velvet nails re-emerge when the seasons start to change. No real velvet is actually involved; the effect is created by nail polish products and techniques that mimic the way velvet looks and moves when it’s hit by light. 

As someone who's been getting nail art manicures for a decade, I am quite familiar with the velvet nail art process. As of late, I’ve switched to doing my nails myself and consider myself an expert at this point, so I will impart my wisdom.

First, this is a look that goes by a couple of other names, including magnetic polish and cat-eye nails. The latter involves painting a stripe across the nail to mimic a cat’s eye, as the name implies. Regardless of what you call it, there is only one true method for application, and it involves using a magnet. (Although some regular glitter nail polishes can get you close.) 

There are three ways to get this look at home — gel nail polish (which is how it’s traditionally done), regular nail polish, and press-on nails. In the photo above, I’m wearing Aprés Gel tips with a blue Mizhse Jelly Reflective Gel nail polish I bought on Amazon. 

Fall Velvet Nail Polish

Tamim Alnuweiri

One note — I think gel nail polish works the best for the velvet effect, though my reasoning is not super scientific. Gel nail polish has to be cured under a UV or LED light, so once it’s dry, it’s set and can’t be changed, which I think helps solidify the look. 

Mizhse Glitter Jelly Reflective Gel Nail Polish Kit

 MIZHSE Jelly Reflective Glitter Gel Nail Polish Kit

Shop now: $23 with coupon (Originally $24); amazon.com 

You’ll also need: A UV light and base/top coat (optional)

This is the exact set of cat-eye nail polishes I own. It comes with 12 polish colors ranging from silver to red as well as a double-ended magnetic stick for application. One side is large and rectangular and the other is a small circle, and they’re used to create precision in the effect.  The box of nail polishes also comes with instructions, which I found quite handy. The bottles are small, but this is a great buy for someone like me who wants to try as many colors as possible. The Mizhse Glitter Gels come in two different 12-piece sets — one with bright neons and one with a range of muted earth tones

Apply a base coat and cure under a UV/LED light (optional) and follow with the glitter gel of your choice. Use the magnetic wand to push the glitter to create the exact effect of your liking. Cure under the UV/LED light once again. Finish off with a layer of top coat (optional) and cure once more under the lamp. 

I personally like this Aprés Top Coat and this handy affordable lamp

Static Nails Velvet Pink Round Reusable Pop-On Manicure

Static Nails Velvet Pink Round Reusable Pop-On Manicure

Ulta

Shop now: $24; ulta.com

Another easy option is press-on nails, like these velvet light pink ones from Static Nails. The color is somewhat subtle but they still have that light-catching, touchable effect, and the kit comes with its own nail glue. Simply follow the instructions provided. 

ILNP Warm Amber Magnetic Nail Polish

 ILNP Amber - Warm Amber Magnetic Nail Polish

Shop now: $13; amazon.com

You’ll also need: A magnet 

If you’re sticking with traditional nail polish, like the ILNP Warm Amber Magnetic Nail Polish, you won’t need a gel top coat or curing light to achieve this look. The velvet effect is created by a process similar to the one you’d use with gel polish — paint your nail and then use the magnet to manipulate the exact effect before the polish dries. The downside here is that it doesn’t come with a magnetic wand, but you can purchase one for as little as $7 on Amazon.

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