"Fairy Nails" Are the Prettiest New Way to Wear Glitter

Tinkerbell would be jealous.

Fairy Nails


A world without glitter isn’t a world I want to live in. There’s nothing more magical than applying a wash of shimmer to your lids, cheekbones and shoulders and transforming yourself into a fairytale princess or magical sprite, just like you did as a child donning those adorable dress-up wings.

"Fairy nails" are the latest and greatest way to channel your inner Tinkerbell or Titania, not to mention the prettiest way to wear glitter. They’re subtle enough for everyday wear but suitably glamorous for formal events, and add just a touch of ethereal glimmer to any look. “I think people like them for the very simple reason that they are fun to look at,” explains editorial manicurist Stephanie Stone. “They’re a minimalistic take on a glitter nail which people always love. They’re fun, sparkly, wearable, and ‘professional’ all at the same time.” 

​​Like Peter Pan says, all it takes is faith, trust and a little bit of pixie dust. (Or, you know, nail polish.) Ahead, everything you need to know about the fair nail trend.

Margot Robbie fairy nails


The Trend

Ever since one Ms. Hailey Bieber started glazing her nails with a frosted finish, going from pearly white to chocolate to sweet strawberry and back again, shimmery nails have been the mani trend to beat—and the glazed trend has spawned a whole brood of offshoots, like one big sparkly family. Fairy nails are one such derivative of this trend, similar to the “naked glitter” nail look currently trending with celebs like Lily James: a subtle and sheer coat of shimmer that reflects the light and sparkles as if lit by magic. Whereas naked glitter nails are, well, naked, fairy nails tend to incorporate color either with a pastel base or a pearly, ever-changing duochrome shimmer.

The magic of fairy nails is in their simplicity. “It's a really simple and achievable way to wear nail art, without needing any special tools or tricks of the trade,” says Rita Remark, Global Lead Educator for Essie. “Right now the biggest trend is a clean, yet ornate nail art look. Everything from ‘glazed’ to ‘iridescent’ finishes are great on their own or overtop of a signature color and they're a super easy DIY.” 

How to Get the Look

Glimmering, magical fairy nails aren’t just pretty to look at—they’re practically made for at-home manicurists of all skill levels. You can choose a shimmery polish or layer a topcoat over your go-to shades, just like a Disney fairy making magic with their enchanted wand.

“The great thing about this nail look is you can achieve it with simple polish application. You don’t need any extra tools or supplies,” says Stone.

“It's as easy as choosing a sheer effects polish and applying one to two coats of color, depending on how punchy you'd like the effect to be,” explains Remark, who loves Essie’s iridescent baby pink Birthday Girl, pearly pink and blue Feel the Fizzle, and the duochrome pearl Espressie Iced Out FX. ($10 each). Stone also recommends Birthday Girl as a base topped with a coat of Nails Inc.’s glittery Electric Avenue ($15) for easy and fast fairy nails.

Lucky for us, nail brands are taking notice of our collective passion for pixie dust. Nails Inc. is such a big fan of the trend that they launched a gorgeous pastel shimmer duo set that is perfect for manicure flights of fantasy. Another pretty pick is Tenoverten’s opalescent Shimmer ($12), which is as angelic as a pair of wings, as is Cirque Colors’s aptly-named Fantasia ($15), a kaleidoscope of rainbow iridescent flakes, and Olive & June’s enchanting Frosted Gloss ($9). While you can definitely experiment with brighter or richer colors, this trend is more Midsummer Night’s Dream than The Fairly OddParents, so think sheer, shimmery and ready to take flight.

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