The Black Manicure

In high school (which was the mid to late nineties for me) I painted my nails jet black, thinking it looked really modern and sophisticated. My peers felt…otherwise.

“Oh my GOD, Beth, are you GOTH now?”

“That looks TERRIBLE.”

“Is it Halloween or something?”

Not surprisingly, I tried to hide my hands for the rest of the day, then ran home and took it off immediately, cursing my bad judgment. Several years later I had the sense to ignore my peers and began wearing it again. Turns out I was just ahead of the curve. Fast forward fifteen-ish years and black manicures are considered–wait for it–modern and sophisticated. Here are a handful of options if you’re intrigued by this trend.


Shimmer/Holographic Black


Of course you can do a standard black manicure. But what if you want something not quite so dark and bold? Try a black that has shimmer, glitter, or holographic properties. In the photo above, I’m using Essie Over the Edge which is a black polish with steel grey shimmer in it. Though I’ve had some issues with the application of Essie polishes in the past, this one applies beautifully. It is very slow to dry, but you can speed it up a bit by applying a coat of Seche Vite 15 minutes after the last coat.



I recently bought three bottles of nail polish from independent retailer Cult Nails, which I’ll review as a group in a future post. But I had to include I Got Distracted in this post. This is a black jelly polish (which means it’s not opaque), and it has a TON of green, blue, teal, and even pink (orange? red?) glitter in it. This is a GREAT polish–beautiful and unique.


With Accent Nails


In September I posted about the accent nail trend. Though I wasn’t sure how often I’d sport this look, I’ve actually been wearing it a fair amount. The photo above is the manicure I had at the end of December, and I thought it was festive enough to be holiday-ish, but it wasn’t over the top red-and-green. My go to opaque black polish is China Glaze Liquid Leather, which is used above as the main color. It takes two thin coats to be completely opaque; it applies easily; it dries quickly and smoothly. It’s the best black nail polish I’ve used. The two accent nails are done in Illamasqua Glitterati. Glitterati is a really beautiful deep burgundy with small and large pieces of glitter. I used two coats, and then dabbed on a bit more in areas that looked thin.



Another accent nail manicure, and the one that’s currently on my fingers. For the accent nails I used one coat of Revlon Fall Mood followed by two thick coats of the glorious Nailtini Millionaire which I featured in the Holiday Manicure post. In that post, I had tried Millionaire over a blue color but I wasn’t wild about the results–it looked too chaotic. Layering this gold and teal bar glitter polish over an opaque gold has been the best way to wear this (as shown above) and I love the look.


My trusty China Glaze Liquid Leather is used as the main color. If you like this look but it’s still too much black, you could also do it in reverse, and make the black the accent nail(s) and that would brighten up the look quite a bit.


With Sequins


Lately I’ve been experimenting with applying sequins to my nail designs. This process, which I’ll go into more detail about in a future post, is not for the impatient. Basically you apply your base color, then a coat of clear, then apply the sequins to the top while still wet, using a toothpick. It requires a steady hand and surrender of the expectation of perfection. This particular look was done in my trusty China Glaze Liquid Leather with Born Pretty Sequins. Take note: if you live stateside, the shipping takes a very long time (I believe they’re based in Hong Kong), so be patient.


I used the bronze colored sequins for this manicure and I was inspired by chaps. Yes, leather chaps that motorcycle dudes wear. I wanted the sequins to echo the hardware (buckles, studs, etc) that sometimes adorn chaps. Because I’m secretly a bad-ass.

One negative aspect that I’ll mention about anytime you use black nail polish is that any mistakes you make around the cuticle, that is any nail polish that gets on the skin, is going to be very apparent. If I have the time and patience, I’ll try to remove it by dipping a small nail brush or even a toothpick in nail polish remover. If I don’t have time, I’ll wait until I’m in the shower and rub the excess polish off with my fingertips (the heat and water make this easier than doing it when your skin is dry).

Anyone else out there loving the black manicure?


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