Nail Trends for 2012

The newest nails take advantage of the latest technology in nail polish, acrylic nails and pigments to make your manicure a work of art. A simple French manicure with short tips never goes out of fashion, but if you want to sample some of the season’s more extreme looks for a night or a week, give it a try. Your nails are more customizable than ever before, so make the most of it.

Long Nails

After years of short “squoval” nails, a new alternative is emerging: the stiletto nail. Longer fingernails with a decided point were the rage decades ago, but as women became more active, maintaining a long, pointy manicure was no longer practical. Advances in artificial nails make these more dramatic shapes fun for a night out without cramping your style at the office the next day.

Adele’s latest manicure featured half-inch ovals tipped with a metallic gold polish, while Lady Gaga recently took the trend to its ultimate length with inch-long nails in sanguine crimson.

Steer clear of this trend if you’re tough on your manicure or have short, broad fingers. A squared shape is more flattering to broad hands.

Lighter Neutrals

After a winter full of dark merlot and charcoal tones, the emerging trend for neutral nail color is a lighter palette of mushroom, dove gray and delicate beige. These colors blend with fair skin tones and complement darker skin equally well, making them perfect for anyone who wants a subtle and sophisticated manicure.

The trend was everywhere on Spring 2012 runways, with pale buff at Marc Jacobs and a warm beige at Giorgio Armani. It’s a safe bet that you’ll spot it everywhere on the red carpet for this year’s award shows.

This look might not be for you if you prefer a look-at-me manicure. It’s a quiet look that flatters anyone, but it won’t give you much drama. Pick a vivid pink instead.

Hot Reds

Instead of the darkened and blue-tinged maroons of winter, the new red for nails is actually an old favorite: bright flame red. You’ve seen it before on pin-up girls, and like vintage fashion, its time has come around again. Revlon’s “Fire and Ice” is the same formula that was a huge hit in the early 1950s, so get retro with your manicure and choose a hot red with a kiss of orange.

Gwen Stefani’s a fan of the trend, as is Anne Hathaway. Both of these stars love their brilliant red lipstick too, so bright red nails are a natural fit for them — and for you, if you love that pin-up glamor too.

Warm-toned reds go well with most skin tones, but if you are one of the few whom the shade doesn’t flatter, go for a true red with less heat to it. You’ll stay on trend without wearing something that doesn’t suit you.

Major Metallics and Glitter Polish

Glitter polish used to contain little squares of the stuff that looked remarkably like the kind of glitter you used for kindergarten craft projects. New styles in glitter polish add a whole new dimension to sparkle with die-cut shaped foil bits, irregular pieces of shimmer and holographic glitter that gives your nails the hypnotic rainbow effect of a CD. Flecks of asymmetrical glitter give your manicure a depth that regular glitter can’t; nails appear to have dimension in their whorls of sparkle.

Your nails can look like pearls or opals with some of the subtler polishes around, or you can go full-tilt with a gilded Minx manicure that is as reflective as burnished gold. Try something a little different with a manicure that resembles a different metal such as copper or darkened gunmetal.

Glitter polish is a challenge to remove quickly. If you’re a manicure quick-change artist and like to switch it up on a regular basis, you may find glitter manicures tough on your nails.

Hand-Painted Nail Art

Nail art is now huge business. With longer nails coming back in style, you have more real estate to decorate. New products that go on like a polish, but cure within seconds under UV light like a gel make decorative manicures even easier. Look for Gelish or Shellac at your local nail salon; you’ll get the gorgeous custom manicure without having to spend hours in the salon chair.

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