Nailed It

The Crackle Nail Polish From Your 2000s-Era Caboodles Case Is Back

First duck nails, now these.

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Some ’90s and Y2K-era beauty trends are so nostalgic you feel compelled to try them again, even if they are a little bit ugly. See: duck nails, super skinny eyebrows, and frosted lips, just to name a few. Occasionally, an old trend will stick around and take on a whole new life, like shag haircuts and French manicures. But will that be the case for crackle nails?

With more than 11.7 million views on TikTok, it seems like crackle nails — also called shatter nails — are starting to make a comeback. To remember what they look like, try to remember the crackle-topped nail polish bottle in your Caboodles case.

According to Juli Russell, a DIY nail expert for Sally Beauty, this special top coat creates a broken glass effect on your nails thanks to a unique formulation that causes the polish to contract and separate to reveal a different base color underneath. The result is a textured nail art design — and yes, it is so 2008.

Back in the day, the coolest girl in your middle school would paint a white or black crackle top coat over a bright background, like hot pink or neon blue. The shattered effect also looked goth-chic over blood red or vampy purple shades, says Yongxi Tan, the co-founder of Bessie, a press-on nail brand. “The look was perfect for people who loved edgier fashion,” she tells Bustle.

Crackle Nail Polish Is Making A Comeback

According to Russell, these nails were big in the ’90s, but they became even more mainstream in the early 2000s when fun nail art really started to take off. Despite the popularity, though, she says crackle polish colors were limited to the white and black top coats.

As the look makes a return, it’s now easier to find more finishes and formulas, like glittery greens, reds, and golds. The shattered look is playful, abstract, and a little bit funky, notes Russell, which fits right in with the myriad of experimental nail art that’s so popular right now. Tan relates crackle polish to the recent crocodile print nail trend, thanks to its interesting texture.

Think of it as another eye-catching option to try alongside chrome finishes and airbrushed aura manis. You could also take the trend up a Y2K notch with glow-in-the-dark colors à la Kylie Jenner.

Is Crackle Nail Polish Here To Stay?

While crackle nails are cute, trends are cyclical, so there’s really no telling how long this polish style will stay this second time around. “Although the crackle polish trend brings a nostalgic charm, today’s nail trends lean towards minimalism and timeless styles like classic reds and French tips,” Russell says. Think simple, glossy designs like Sofia Richie Grainge’s quiet luxury nails and Hailey Bieber’s glazed donut tips — both a far cry from the more chaotic look of a crackle nail.

How To Wear Crackle Nails

If you love your crackle nail memories but still aren’t sold on wearing them today, you can attempt to evolve into something a little more chic with the help of a glossy top coat or an on-trend base color, like chocolate brown. “I’m excited to see a modern twist on them,” says Tan. And at the very least, they’ll be perfect for the Halloween season.

Shop Crackle Nail Polish


Juli Russell, DIY nail expert for Sally Beauty

Yongxi Tan, nail expert, co-founder of press-on nail brand Bessie