Life Style

Chiffon Nails Are a Couture Manicure

model wearing chiffon nails

Pretend you’re holding a delicate chiffon dress in your hands. It’s feather-light, slightly translucent and soft as a cloud—perfect for a sticky hot summer day or a sultry date night, given how it clings and flutters as you move.

Now imagine that same sheer, soft texture on your nails, and you’ve got the latest twist on the nude manicure: chiffon nails. Think of them as your natural nails, but a thousand times prettier. Ahead, everything you need to know about the trend that’s already dominating the red carpet.

a hand with sheer chiffon nails

What Are Chiffon Nails?

Chiffon nails are basically “quiet luxury” personified. They’re similar to milk bath nails but one step lighter, as if you’re wearing only the slightest touch of polish to enhance your nails’ natural tones. In short, it’s like you’re wearing extremely expensive chiffon lingerie on your hands: glamorous, sensual and delicate at the same time.

“Your nails but better” manicures have always been popular, especially with brides and celebrities looking for a done-but-not-done manicure option that oozes romance and sophistication, and chiffon nails are the next natural step in the wake of milky French manis and milk bath nails. Chiffon nails can veer more nude to blend in with your skin tone or go cloudlike with a veil of creamy, misty white or pink color. Blackpink’s Jennie Kim took the look for a spin at Cannes, wearing her pristine sheer mani with an equally ethereal Chanel dress and a Chanel logo nail decal to match.


Behind the Trend

Like many manicure trends, the chiffon nail has roots on the red carpet, but it’s also massively popular in Korea and Japan, says NYC-based celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec. “Sheer, feminine and subtle nail trends are huge [in Korea] right now. They’re pretty, airy, and light, perfect for spring and summer,” she explains. The style is also a no-brainer for stars who are constantly juggling busy super-busy schedules. “Many of my celebrity clients are working on more than one project at a time, and keeping this simple mani style helps them transition from one role to another more easily.”

model with chiffon nails manicure

Mazz Hanna, CEO of Nailing Hollywood, agrees. “The ‘less is more’ concept has gained popularity in recent years, and the sheer trend embodies this minimalist approach,” she shares. “Celebrities often opt for sheer manicures because a sheer manicure provides a polished look that still complements their overall style without overpowering their outfits.” Paging Sofia Richie, who wore milky nails for her much-buzzed-about wedding.

How to Get Chiffon Nails

Chiffon nails look easy and effortless, but nailing that flawless canvas takes a little prep work to find your ideal shade, reduce streakiness and clean up dry, ragged cuticles.

To find a super pale shade that works on your skin tone and resembles the airy, fluttery vibes of a piece of couture chiffon, hone in on your undertones and find a sheer formula polish to match. “I believe that anyone can pull off different shades of white as it is such a neutral color,” explains manicurist San Sung Kim. But if you want a matching moment, let your skin tone be your guide. “If the white polish has a more yellow undertone, it will suit those with warmer skin tones,” she shares. “If the white has a blue undertone, it will suit those with cooler skin tones.”

Model with taupe chiffon nails

Before painting, make sure your nails are clean and free of oils and residue, says Hanna. Kandalec recommends pushing back your cuticles not once but twice—at the start of your manicure, per usual, and then again right before you paint. Skip soaking your nails for a longer-lasting mani. “Water not only swells the nail plate and makes polish peel faster, but it can also get under the lateral nail fold and prevent the polish from getting that super-crisp line,” says Kandalec.

Kandalec recommends grabbing a fresh new bottle of polish for pure application perfection. “The absolute most important thing here that will help is to use a new bottle of polish, and shake it often!” she instructs. “When a bottle is new, the solvents and pigments are at their perfect ratio. As soon as you open the bottle, the solvents begin to evaporate, leaving the ratio of pigments higher, which is where the streaks can come from.” Kandalec says to gently shake the bottle frequently to ensure even mixing and paint three to four nails before recapping and shaking again.

Sheer shades can be notoriously difficult to deal with, leading to streakiness or multiple chunky coats for coverage. Kim’s best advice for getting that gorgeous, naked-but-not finish sans any streaks? Super, super thin layers. “The polish should be applied in very thin layers to avoid a streaky uneven application,” she says.

Margot Robbie's chiffon nails

Chiffon nail colors abound everywhere from the drugstore to the Chanel counter, so you can take your pick from an absolute plethora of shades. Kim’s faves include Essie’s Gel Couture in Dress is More ($13), a bridal bouquet of creamy white and pink tones, and Zoya’s Lucy ($12), a sheer white, while Kandalec likes OPI’s Altar Ego ($12), a milky pink with lavender undertones, and Dior Vernis Longwear Gel Effect in Muguet ($30), a peachy pink. Hanna likes the “delicate and translucent” finish of Dazzle Dry’s Peacefully Me ($22), a sheer, warm pale pink.

Once your nails are looking capital-F Flawless, let them dry completely and be sure to treat them to lots of TLC with hand creams and oils. Hanna loves Retrouvé Dermal Defense Hand Cream ($55) for hands and cuticles alike. “It’s best to apply this cream at night before bed, allowing it to work its magic overnight,” she says. “Massage a generous amount into your hands, focusing on areas that require extra hydration, like the cuticles.” The cream nourishes, repairs and replenishes skin while you sleep so you (and your nails) will wake up looking like royalty.


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