Tiger's eye stones — stars of many a '90s-era beaded-bracelet-making kit — infiltrated the beauty scene late last year, when people started experimenting with "tiger's eye hair," a highlighting technique in which sections of caramel-blonde are hand-painted onto dark brunette strands, evoking the colors of the aforementioned stone. And now that same inspiration is being reimagined in the form of nail art.
A search for tiger's eye nails on Instagram and Pinterest reveals a variety of iterations of the look in differing shades and finishes, ranging from glittery to glossy. The new trend is also indicative of a larger resurgence of metallic nails (both on the runway and on the red carpet) after seasons of barely there shades reigned supreme. "Now with pigments, dusts and polishes, there are all these different ways you can achieve a metallic nail," says nail artist Kimmie Kyees, who was behind Chrissy Teigen's gold manicure at the Grammys. "It seems like it's made a new comeback."
Tiger's eye nails riff on traditional metallic polish jobs by creating a striped, marbled effect on the nail's surface, similar to "magnetic" polishes that took the beauty world by storm in the early 2010s. "For a long time, I too didn't appreciate metallic nails," says editorial manicurist and Sally Hansen Global Color Ambassador Madeline Poole. "Now I love them — they make your fingernails look like little pieces of jewelry and pick up sunlight, so they take on many different faces depending on the lighting."
As nail art goes, it's fairly simple to pull off, too. "When you translate the concept of tiger's eye onto a nail, it's actually a very doable DIY technique," says Poole. To get the classic black-and-gold tiger eye look, manicurists apply two coats of black gel polish, followed by a layer of gold magnetic polish on top. (However, feel free to try this look with jewel tones, as shown in the above photo, which work just as well.)
To get the look at home, look for an iridescent onyx polish with flecks of amber, like Jinsoon's Verismo, or layer a true metallic, like one from Essie's Mirror Metallics range, over a dark polish of your choice. However, if you're looking to ease your way into the trend (or simply aren't used to wearing statement nail polish), follow these tips from Poole: "You can tone this down by adjusting the base color," she says. "Start with a white like Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Get Mod or a nude as the base and lightly brush a gold like Game of Chromes over top." Now if only this trend existed back during the days of crimped hair and Lisa Frank backpacks...
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