It's become almost impossible to scroll through TikTok without an iridescent chrome manicure appearing on my feed. The style, made popular by glazed icon Hailey Bieber, is without a doubt the official manicure of the summer. #HaileyBieberNails currently has 42.9 million views and counting on the app, and I've heard that salons are doing upwards of 10 sets of them a day. Many New York and LA salons have even created bundles of the necessary polishes, so they're ready to go as soon as someone utters the words "Hailey Bieber."
While the Hailey effect can be credited with making the finish the most popular request at nail salons as of late, the chrome manicure has long been a staple for its ability to add instant dimension to both neutral and vivid tones alike. Consider it an upgrade to your favorite metallic lacquers, with a futuristic, molten metal sheen that's still somehow soft and dainty.
Bieber’s chrome nails in particular were created by her manicurist Zola Ganzorigtn rubbing chrome powder over a sheer beige gel lacquer, imparting a dimensional, glazed donut-esque effect. “It gave a surreal, wet-metallic finish to her nude nails,” says nail artist and Essie’s Global Lead Educator Rita Remark. “This led to many adding this ultra-luxe effect to their favorite colors, and has even been trending when paired with green and pink hues.”
It’s a subtle step in the bolder direction if your manicure tastes tend to veer neutral, but if you want a more high-impact hue, the effect is easily customizable and can be incorporated with a rainbow of tones and designs. While Bieber's original pearly white Met Gala mani kicked off the trend, she recently shared that she's been loving the effect over neons for summer.
Read on to get pro tips on what the trend entails, what to ask for at the salon, and how to recreate it yourself.
“The chrome nail trend is the look of highly reflective chrome finishes on either the entire nail or used as an accent for nail art—think french tips with a chrome finish, or a minimal design with a chrome finish,” says Brittney Boyce, celebrity nail artist and founder of Nails of LA. “It looks very futuristic and cool on everyone, but can also be easily customized by pairing the effect with different base colors.”
If you like to take a minimalist approach with your mani, follow the lead of Bieber and the above look by incorporating the multi-dimensional finish with a neutral nail. “The difference between a chrome manicure and a metallic manicure lies in the texture,” Remark adds. “Metallic manicures usually come in deeply pearlized or foiled effects, whereas a chrome effect is a seamless mirror-like shine.” There's no tangible glitter or pearly pieces, just a smooth, almost liquid shine.
The manicure has most often been spotted on rounded almond nails like Biebers, but Boyce says it takes on a new edge with more extreme lengths or shapes. “On long nails, it looks especially dynamic in an almond or coffin shape,” she adds.
Against a clean, white base coat, the chrome powder adds a super-glossy, ethereal finish. The subtle blue glow catches the light, appearing almost fluorescent at certain angles.
f you really want to serve maximum impact, consider pairing the chrome effect with a bright or jewel-toned base, a la the blue mani above.
Get the look
According to Amy Ling Lin, CEO and founder of Sundays salon in New York City, there are two different ways you can create the look on your own—either use an at-home gel kit or traditional nail lacquer, and arm yourself with a chrome powder like OPI’s ($12 each; opi.com for locations), which you’ll have to purchase from a salon.
Pro tip: Because the chrome powder can be difficult to clean up, regardless of the route you choose, Lin recommends using a protective layer of tape around your cuticles to prevent them from getting covered with the dust. “You can also use a Q-tip afterwards to clean up any residual chrome powder,” she adds. “If you’re using gel polish, you’ll need to apply your gel base and two coats of your color, cure it with your LED light, then rub chrome powder onto each nail.” Follow with a final layer of gel top coat, then seal it into place with your LED light.
Lin states that the gel route is typically easier as you don’t have to wait for each layer of nail polish to dry before applying the chrome dust, but it’s not impossible to execute if you prefer to work with traditional lacquer. Simply apply your base coat as you normally would, then follow with two layers of your preferred color. “Wait at least 15 minutes for the color to dry completely, then apply the chrome powder with either your fingers, an eyeshadow brush, or a small powder brush,” she says. “Then, finish with one more layer of base coat, then top coat.”
Of course, you can always head to the salon for the look as well—especially since the look pairs so well with extensions, and chrome is a pro product. And if yours doesn't happen to have Hailey Bieber nail kits pre-assembled, just remember the magic formula: One coat of OPI gel color in Funny Bunny, OPI Stay Shiny top coat, and OPI chrome effects in Tin Man Can.