How To Do Aurora Nails, Instagram’s Favourite Manicure Trend

The mesmerising nail effect is inspired by the Northern Lights.

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Aurora nails are — as their name may suggest — pretty magical. If you’ve been eyeing up nail trends to inspire your next mani, you’ve likely come across this enticing term. But what exactly are aurora nails? Here’s what you need to know, including where the design comes from, and how to do aurora nails at home — because as fantastical as they are, they are not beyond the scope of a good DIY project.

If you consider what the word aurora actually represents (a natural electrical phenomenon, which results in incredible light displays across the sky — otherwise known as the Northern Lights), you can pretty quickly work out what to expect from aurora nails. These nails are iridescent, holographic, or opalescent, and they catch the light in beautiful ways. And the experts are fully on board. “I love the way these nails catch the light in a space-age unicorn kind of way; they look like a real-life filter,” notes Suzi Rezler, founder of press-on nail brand Naillery.

“This is yet another design — following the velvet nails trend — that creates a magical mysterious effect,” the team at Selfish salon tells Bustle. “Different textures [and] sparkly and iridescent effects are extremely popular nail art trends at the moment.”

Where Did The Aurora Nails Trend Come From?

Like many impressive nail trends on Instagram, aurora nails hail from South Korea. The trend started going viral through the hashtag #오로라네일 (‘aurora nails’ written in Korea’s Hangul script), which has been used on over 195,000 posts on Instagram, while the English version, #AuroraNails, is attached to over 100,000 now.

How Are Aurora Nails Created At The Salon?

If you want a really professional finish, it’s worth treating yourself to the full works at a nail salon. There are a few different techniques professionals use to get that staple holographic aurora nail look, says Anastasia Totty, a LeChat Nails educator. “Most of them are created using what nail pros call ‘white chrome’,” she explains. “It’s a highly pigmented powder that has an aurora effect (light lavender or gold hue) depending on lighting.”

Your technician will first rub your nail with the iridescent chrome powder. Then, according to Totty, a popular trend from South Korea and Japan would be to cut a piece of Mylar the shape of your nail and add it over the white chrome with sculpting gel. Or, your nail artist might cut a piece of holographic foil into an oblong shape that’s smaller than the nail plate, “and lay it centrally top-to-bottom on the nail, using hard gel to encapsulate the foil and build a raised area,” Rezler explains, “then paint with top coat for even more shine.” These encapsulating techniques are the most difficult part, making them a challenging DIY, but they pack the biggest visual punch.

How Can You Achieve The Aurora Effect At Home?

You can actually give it a go from home, but it’s a pretty advanced look to opt for unless you’re a nail art pro. There are several YouTube tutorials which talk you through it, but as they explain, you’ll need to order your chromes and foils. “Because you need to use professional nail products to create these looks, it would be quite an investment and a learning curve,” notes Totty. “It is not impossible but could end up being costly.” The most challenging part will most definitely be laying that foil or Mylar, so it will likely take some practice.

To create your aurora nails, Totty says to first file and prep your nails and apply a gel base coat. Then add two coats of gel in white or pastel nail colors and let that cure. Next, you’ll want to use a gel top coat and cure it for 30 seconds before rubbing your white chrome powder on top with a silicone tool or eyeshadow applicator. You can call it good with another cured top coat, or try your hand at encapsulating a piece of Mylar or foil with clear liquid builder gel.

These five products will help you achieve the look at home.

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Suzi Rezler, founder of press-on nail brand Naillery

Selfish Salon team

Anastasia Totty, LeChat Nails educator

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