Remember power bead bracelets? Each type of "stone" was thought to have a specific healing power, but as kids, we typically chose our favorites based on stereotypical color preference—the angsty youths wore the black beads, the popular cliques wore baby pink, and so forth. But perhaps the most enticing aspect of the beads was the light-catching cat-eye effect, adding to their mystical allure. As such, we stacked them on our wrists with abandon, united by the clinking sounds produced as they rubbed up against each other. Ah, the '90s were simpler times.
Cut to now, and the cat-eye trend is making a big comeback, first by way of tiger's-eye hair and now through cat-eye nails, a trend so buzzy that saves are up 792% from a year ago on Pinterest. Similar to a tiger's-eye stone, in this nail look, there's a streak within the paint to get the same scintillating luster. To find out more about how to get the look, we spoke with Lauren B. of Lauren B. Beauty and Naomi Gonzalez of Zoya nail products.
How do you create the cat-eye effect?
LB: You'll need two things: magnetic polish (try Sally Hansen Nail Color Magnetic ($22)) and a strong flat nail magnet. To achieve this look, you can start by filing and buffing your nails to prep them. Then, apply your base coat. Paint one coat of magnetic polish, and while it's still wet, use your magnetic nail tool and hold it over the wet polish for five to 10 seconds. The magnet will pull the iron particles upward, creating the cat-eye. If you do not like the direction in which the magnet pulled the particles, you can repeat this step with a second coat of the same polish and magnet again. (Be careful not to touch the wet polish with the magnet!) To finish, just let the polish dry completely.
What if you don't have magnetic polish?
LB: You have to use a magnetic polish for this particular cat-eye look to work best. Magnetic nail polish contains iron particles that rise to the surface of the polish when a magnet is applied over it. My line, Lauren B. Beauty, is 7-free, less toxic, and vegan-friendly, so if you are particular with what you put on your nails, you won't be able to create this effect. However, there is always a way! You can totally create a similar eye-catching effect by painting a shimmery polish, like Lauren B. Beauty in Ivy at the Shore ($18) over a layer of black polish, like Lauren B. Beauty in Paparazzi ($18).
NG: Start with Zoya's Remove Plus ($10) to cleanse the nail plate. We use darker colors for this nail look, so nails should be completely clean and free of oils to allow the color to adhere. Then, using a dark color, such as Zoya's Willa ($10), apply one full coat of polish on your nails and allow to dry. Next, using a glitter or iridescent polish like Sparkle Gloss Topcoat ($10), you want to create a very slim upside-down V on the nail, starting with one stroke to the left and one stroke to the right at the cuticle area and meeting at a point in the center. You can use the polish brush or a liner art brush you can find at your local craft store. Then, fill in the V with a touch of the iridescent color and clean the exterior of the shape with the darker coat you used as your base.
Is it best to have a professional do it?
LB: Unless you have all of the correct tools and have a very steady hand, then I would suggest seeking the help of a professional. There are lots of steps, and with the magnet involved, this technique may be hard to maneuver one-handed without ruining your manicure.
Opening Image: Imaxtree