Social media is a great resource for finding inspiration for nail art, and the most recent maximalist manicure trend, known as “illusion ombré” nails, is sure to get people’s attention. The hashtag #illusionombre has received over 20.7 million views on TikTok alone, largely thanks to a video made by user Kachy Nails, who was the first to introduce the recently popular look.
The gradient nail art technique typically consists of two layers, with the bottom layer being visible underneath the top. The final appearance is similar to the shadow french manicure, but instead of just the tip, the entire nail is covered by the optical illusion.
Replicating the look may seem difficult, but it’s much simpler than you might imagine. Take two gel nail polish colours that go well together and use them as your starting point. According to Brittney Boyce, a well-known nail technician and the owner of Nails of LA, “colours that you would typically use for an ombré nail would go well together.” I believe the effects are more dramatic when you use one light and one dark shade, although two dark shades like black and blue can look cool.
Start by painting two complementary colours side by side on your nail, as shown in the Kachy Nails video on TikTok. Blend the two colours just enough to give the appearance that they are melting into one another, then cure them under a UV lamp to create an ombré effect. The same two colours are then painted on the nail again, but this time on the opposing sides and without curing. Then, to create a smile line, you should drag a clean, flat brush across the nail in a single motion from one end to the other. The illusion artwork that gives this trend its name will be applied to the nail in this way. You have the option to continue or end there. Cure the nail when you’re happy with how it looks overall.
One thing to keep in mind is that Boyce says she wouldn’t recommend trying out the trend with regular nail polish instead of gel, even though it might be alluring to do so. Regular lacquer makes it unfortunately very difficult to achieve this look. Although it will be much more challenging, it is possible.
Make sure you have pictures and videos of inspiration with you when you visit your neighbourhood nail salon if you aren’t sure you can recreate the look at home on your own and would prefer to do so. We’ve gathered several variations of illusion ombré nails below that you can wear to your next appointment.