Look around and you may think you’ve stumbled back into the early 2000s. Yes, Y2K style is back in the form of butterfly clips, low-rise jeans, and braided tendrils — so it’s no surprise that the nostalgic trend is also showing up in nail art.
To be clear, today’s early 2000s nail trends aren’t exactly a reboot of the manis you might recall from middle school (though French manicures are popping up all over the place). “If you look at red carpet or runway pictures from Y2K, manicures were a lot more subdued compared to today,” says Brittney Boyce, celebrity manicurist and founder of press-on brand Nails of LA. Back then, she says, the shapes were typically pretty short and square-shaped, and “you saw more single color manicures or very simple graphics.” Today, the most popular nail shapes are oval, almond, and coffin — and the aesthetic tends to embrace a more-is-more vibe.
So, where do the early 2000s come in then? Boyce says she’s seeing nail art be used to showcase the things that defined the era, from bejeweled charms to kitschy decals reminiscent of the stickers that decorated lockers, skateboards, and notebooks. Scroll on for Y2K-inspired nail art ideas that you’ll definitely want to copy.
Expect to see nails decorated with the bright psychedelic hearts that were popular in the early aughts, says Boyce, who describes these designs as similar to the ones that “you doodled in school or had on baby tees.”
From posters to skateboards, funky clashing prints were everywhere in the early 2000s — and now they’re showing up on manicures.
The Y2K era was all about bedazzled charms: They hung from designer baguette bags, flip phones, and bracelets. Now it’s time to rock that aesthetic on your manicure.
An easy way to transform a simple mani into one that channels the early 2000s? Stick on some nostalgic decals. “Aliens, happy faces, peace signs — they were all super big during Y2K,” says Boyce. “You can put them on plain nails, on a French tip, or all over like a wallpaper pattern.”
The Playboy Bunny
While Playboy has been around since the ’50s, the brand garnered new fame with teens in the early 2000s with the E! reality show The Girls Next Door — something millennials are now nodding to with the signature bunny on their fingertips.
In the early aughts, it was all about logo-printed designer (and knockoff) bags and accessories. So, naturally, the trend is showing up in nail art.
Rhinestone French Tips
While rhinestones and nail art are old friends, manis with tightly packed stones are especially hot right now — think a “bedazzled pink Razr phone level of rhinestones,” Boyce explains.
Another early aughts mani trend to watch: Camo print. “Destiny’s Child made camo look so cool during the Y2Ks,” says Boyce. She notes that nails featuring the print will incorporate sage, a shade she’s seeing everywhere this year.
Boyce is also spotting plenty of ornate crosses on manicures lately, a nod to the Chrome Hearts/Ed Hardy/Hot Topic days.
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