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These Indie Nail Trends Are Giving “That Girl” Status

Photo by glosshouse/Instagram

You probably know of skittle nails, the popular nail trend where you paint each of your fingers a different nail polish color. A year ago, this nail trend was bold, and people loved how easy it was to achieve. But approaching every nail with a different color was just the beginning for nail art enthusiasts. The latest nail trend we can’t stop screenshotting: indie nails. 

Indie nails are a maximalist approach to nail art, treating each and every finger like a limitless canvas. With indie nails, there are no rules. You might recognize the beginning of the indie nail art trend showcasing nails with smiley faces, some clouds, maybe cow print, psychedelic swirls, and most definitely a yin yang or two. But in 2022, indie nail art is reaching new heights. Think 3D gel, confetti, charms, crushed velvet, stickers—everything goes when it comes to indie nails. That’s the beauty of it.

It's obvious this trend is growing (and fast!), with Spate Trends reporting searches for indie nails increasing more than 200 percent at the close of 2021. Christine Doan, an LA-based nail artist who you might recognize as @glosshouse on Instagram and TikTok, completely agrees: “Since everyone is stepping out this year, we’re going to see people come out of their comfort zones when it comes to nails.” We asked her to share her favorite indie nail trends (something about fidget spinners?) and for tips on how to ask for these works-of-art looks at the salon. 

About the Expert:

Christine Doan is a LA-based manicurist and content creator.

1. Confetti Nails

If you ask us, glitter never goes out of style and neither does this glitter confetti look. There are hundreds of ways to achieve the confetti nail, and the best part is you can totally DIY at home. Some feature bright tipped nails or decals but mostly, these are pieces of confetti and clear coat. And you don’t have to be going to a party to sport them.

2. Gummy Candy Nails

These nails look so yummy, you almost want to eat them (anyone else craving a peach jelly ring right now?) This specific look blends confetti nails, charms, and 3D gel structures. “3D nail art can come in the form of attaching gems, charms, or other small trinkets,” says Doan. “But you also see them in the form of a structure gel where the artist will freehand these shapes. The best way to ask for this style is to bring in a reference photo. Each artist will have a different perspective of this, so photos help.”

3. Mix and Match Nails

This is a more subtle version of indie nails if you prefer a pared-down approach. You can choose certain fingers to match or mirror each other with designs to still achieve that bespoke look. You might even decide you want to stick to a color scheme and work within it. Again, there are no rules to this approach to nail art. Try picking two color complements and a few icons for your manicurist to play around with. 

4. Swirl Nails

Doan tells us her favorite design elements to include in indie manicures are swirls. “Even enthusiasts can attempt without a need of perfecting,” she says. Swirls are a great way to play with negative space in your indie nail manicure. If you want to take things a step further, swirls pair well with stickers or decals. You’ll notice a couple gold nail decals in the design above, almost acting like a focal point on each finger.

5. Bubble Nails

If we had to guess what a mermaid would have for a manicure, it would probably look a lot like these tiny multi-colored 3D bubbles. The iridescence makes these nails look clean and chic especially when you choose pastel colors. Try playing around with the sizes and shapes of these bubbles to make each nail unique. Perhaps a trendy base coat too!

6. Glass Nails

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Doan says these gel nail structures are freehanded by manicurists: “You can do them over a design to create a fishbowl effect or paint/add chromes over the structure gel.” Glass nails remain super shiny and create lots of texture. This set makes the nails look wet, almost like they’re dripping. We love the subtle blue zebra print and baby pink nail polish.

7. Art Class Nails

These nails remind us of perfectly imperfect scrapbooks and glitter glue. Plus, how cute is the smiley face charm? There’s beauty in these looking a bit uneven and not so polished. We’ve been seeing chunky acrylic rings and hair clips trending, and these nails are the perfect pair. Nailing the charm on this design might be tough. Best to check out a craft store, and bring your goods to your manicurist. 

8. Velvet Shimmer Nails

These nails are probably the most mesmerizing to include in your indie manicure. To catch how beautifully they shimmer, see this video. “At an Asian salon, you’ll need to show a picture, and say you want cat-eye gel,” says Doan. “The way the effect works is a gemstone technique.” Because of how the cat-eye gel polish is carefully applied, these nails end up looking like ombré crushed velvet. They look amazing paired with bubble nails or confetti nails.

Stay up-to-date on the latest nail trends and nail polishes with the IPSY Glam Bag. Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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About the author
Olivia Cefalu
Olivia Cefalu
Olivia is a freelance beauty writer. With experience in influencer marketing at Tata Harper Skincare and editorial at Very Good Light, she loves covering Gen Z beauty, wellness, and nail trends. Read her work on Very Good Light and Well + Good.
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Article Last Updated February 24, 2022 12:00 AM