The latest nail polish trend taking social media by storm? A magnetic manicure. These shiny, prismatic nail designs are made by swiping on coats of special nail polish that can then be pulled using a magnet to create unique, swirly patterns on your nails that resemble 3D electromagnetic waves. It’s like an Etch-a-Sketch for your nails!
What makes this nail trend especially flattering for women over 50? The polish’s shimmery finish bounces light onto hands and nails to instantly blur aging beauty concerns like nail ridges and crepey skin.
What exactly is magnetic nail polish?
Before we jump into the gorgeous magnetic manicures you can whip up, you might be wondering how magnetic nail polish actually works. These polishes are infused with finely shaved metallic particles which are then activated when using a strong magnet near polished nails. This creates eye-catching, shifty patterns on nails for a beautiful and textured look, says manicurist Hannah Lee of HannahRoxIt.com. “These manicures have become so popular since they give nails such a cool effect that is mesmerizing to look at and easy to achieve at home,” she says.
All you need is a magnetic polish and a special nail design magnet tool that will help you easily make one of the five most common magnetic manicure designs: cat-eye (single stripe) “X” (crisscross), aura (circle), zig-zag and velvet.
Read on for the simple step-by-step instructions to create a magnetic manicure for yourself!
1. Enchanting ‘cat-eye’ magnetic manicure
Named for its resemblance to the line at the center of a cat’s eye, this magnetic manicure is a cinch to create. An added perk: The linear pattern draws the eye vertically for a nail-lengthening effect.
Get the look:
- Press the pad of your thumb on top of the metal rectangle on a magnetic nail wand like ILPN Magnetic Wand (Buy from ILPN, $5) at an angle. Apply two thick coats of of red-orange metallic polish, like ILPN in Amber (Buy from ILPN, $12.50) to the thumb nail, keeping the magnet in place for at least one minute after each coat to create and set the cat-eye design; let dry.
- With the magnet still underneath the thumb, apply a top coat to the nail and keep magnet in place for at least 1 minute after applying the top coat to keep the cat-eye effect looking sharp and crisp; let dry.
- Repeat the above steps on all nails (except the ring fingernail) one at a time.
- On the ring fingernail, apply two coats of a purple glitter polish, like OPI Nail Lacquer in Feelin’ Libra-ted (Buy from OPI, $11.49); let dry, then seal with top coat.
Check out the below video from Lee’s YouTube channel to see how simple this look is to achieve.
2. Striking “X” magnetic manicure
An eye-catching silver crisscross pattern makes nails look as pretty as a wrapped-up present. Better yet, the metallic straight lines don’t even require a steady hand.
Get the look:
- Paint nails with one coat of a navy blue polish, like KBShimmer Stream On, Stream Away Nail Polish (Buy from KBShimmer, $11); let dry.
- On one nail, apply a thick coat of silver magnetic polish topper like KBShimmer Love At Frost Sight Magnetic Nail Polish Topper (Buy from KBShimmer, $11) and immediately after application, use a special “S” magnet tool, like KBShimmer Black S Magnet for Magnetic Polish (Buy from KBShimmer, $3), turn it on its side and hold ¼ inch above the nail at an angle for 15-30 seconds until an “X” design appears; let dry.
- Repeat above steps on the rest of nails one at a time; seal with top coat.
To see the crisscross design being made in action, and learn how to use the magnet tool, check out the below video from YouTuber Christy Rose.
3. Mesmerizing ‘aura’ magnetic manicure
Inspired by the invisible, colorful energy fields known as “auras,” this magnetic manicure is characterized by its brightly-hued, circular pattern that glows near the center of each nail. A great way to help hands appear more dewy.
Get the look:
- Press the pad of your thumb on top of the metal rectangle on a magnetic nail wand (Buy from mooncat, $4) at an angle. Apply two thick coats of sparkly gold magnetic polish like mooncat Alice in Wonderland Bread-And-Butterflies (Buy from mooncat, $15) to the thumb nail, keeping the magnet in place for at least one minute after each coat. This creates and sets the round glowing design at the nail’s center; let dry.
- Repeat the above steps on one hand, moving the magnet under each nail and going one at a time; seal all nails with top coat.
- Repeat all steps on the second hand using mooncat Catfished (Buy from mooncat, $15)
4. Chic ‘velvet’ magnetic manicure
This plush design is making waves on social media as it mimics the look of velvet fabric and gives nail a pretty sparkly 3D effect. Even better? It keeps the focus on nails and off of aging hands.
Get the look:
- Paint two coats of a magnetic polish like the ILNP polish in Blowing Bubbles (Buy from ILNP, $10) onto all nails.
- Use a magnet wand like the ILNP Magnetic Wand (Buy from ILNP, $5) and hover slowly around the edges of each nail until you achieve your preferred look.
- Finish with top coat.
5. Playful “zig-zag” magnetic manicure
Resembling lightning bolts, this magnetic manicure is sure to strike up a conversation! Bonus: A zig-zag design draws the eye back and forth to distract to help make nails look even longer.
Get the look:
- Paint all nails with one coat of magnetic nail polish with a deep navy base and hints of teal, purple and green like KBShimmer in How Polarizing Multichrome Magnetic Nail Polish (Buy from KBShimmer, $12); let dry.
- On two accent nails per hand, apply another thick coat of the magnetic polish and immediately after application, hold the end of a zig-zag magnet wand, like KBShimmer Dual Ended Wave Zig Zag + Cat Eye Magnet for Magnetic Polish (Buy from KBShimmer, $3.50) ¼ inch above the nail for 1 minute until a zig-zag design appears; let dry.
- Apply a top coat to nail and immediately hover the magnet over the nail again for at least 1 minute to keep the zig-zag effect looking sharp and crisp.
Click through for more fun at-home nail designs: