If you love glazed donut nails and Y2K style, blush nails are the new soft glam manicure trend that’s calling your name. “New” is relative: Blush nails originated and have been trending in Korea, though I personally just discovered the look scrolling through international nail inspo on Instagram.
As for what blush nails actually look like? “Blush nails are a Korean nail trend that has a pink glowing ‘aura’ effect in the middle of the nail, replicating the makeup blush look,” Mooky, nail artist and owner of Kookie nails in Melbourne, tells Glamour, adding the style pairs perfectly with minimal and soft and “clean girl” aesthetics that have been in vogue as of late.
Blush nails are also especially easy to customize and dress up or down, says Wei Shuen Lau, a nail technician in Singapore. “It looks super edgy when paired with cyber-sigilism-styled chrome line work; I personally love adding some pearls or Swarovski crystals to really spice up the look with a little sparkle,” she says, reiterating that blush nails fit right in with Y2K-inspired fashion. “It’s super Y2K and so fun to experiment with different colors. Airbrush nail art is so cute and just gives so much more dimension to nail art.”
If blush nails look familiar, that’s likely because the look is similar to ombré nails and the aura manicure that Dua Lipa debuted earlier this year. “Blush nails and aura or ombré nails are essentially the same thing,” Lau says. “They are usually made by using an airbrush to spray out an ombré from the centre of the nail, but there are many ways to achieve the same effect.”
In fact, blush nails started when nail technicians in Korea used makeup in manicures. “Nail techs started applying actual powder blush onto the middle of the nail with a brush or eye shadow applicator to have that ‘healthier’ lit-from-within look,” Lau explains—hence the name “blush nails.”
That’s also what technically differentiates blush nails from other similar styles. “There is a small difference between aura and blush nails because blush is mostly done with rosy tone and sometimes with actual blush, while airbrush is done with paint or gel paint and is a bit more seamless and can also be done in many other colors,” says Amy, a nail artist and press-on-nails designer in Vancouver. “They’re very similar, however aura can be much more of that fashion forward look whereas blush nails are a trendy, cute Asian aesthetic.”
While it depends on personal preference, many professional manicurists have continued to use the original “blush nail” technique, like Nebraska nail artist Nadia Ivonne Aguilar Ramírez. “I created this look by using a matte top coat, a round fluffy eye shadow brush, and an eye shadow palette,” she says. “Using the round fluffy brush, apply the eye shadow in the middle of the nail and lightly feather the outside to give it a more gradient look, then seal the nails with a glossy top coat.”