Do you have any clients who really love satisfying textures on their nails? Perhaps you do and don’t even know it. Traditionally, well done nails are supposed to be as smooth as possible without any lumps, bumps, or roughness. It’s understandable if you haven’t ventured outside that standard when creating nails. But lately, 3D texture is all the rage with technicians and clients alike. Smoothness is still a good rule of thumb for the base layer in order to create what you’re building on top, but now more than ever, people are open to going wild with the texture.

Why is 3D texture such a big trend right now? We think that, for many people, it’s a tactile thing. Raised textures simply feel interesting, satisfying, and even comforting to touch. The added dimension also makes them look really cool!

There are so many ways to incorporate texture into your finished nail designs. If you’re not familiar with the trend, or if you want to explore something you haven’t done before, here are 10 ideas to get you started and how to approach them.

1. Abstract Blobs


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This easy technique is the basis for a lot of 3D textured gel nail designs. Once you can make a gel blob, you can do a whole lot more. The trick is to use hard or builder gel, place your blob how you want it, and cure without letting it move. Clear gel looks amazingly dimensional over an array of colors and glitter with this technique. Try making some organic shapes and have fun with it.


2. Water Drops


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This is the easiest design to achieve. Same technique as above; make some small, circular or slightly drippy blobs of clear gel and cure. This gives the nail a fresh “just rained” effect, enhancing any design underneath. This simple technique can be done with any clear gel or regular polish.


3. Seashells

This enchanting design may look intricate, but it’s actually very easy to create. Load a liner brush up with plenty of gel and draw vertical stripes, making sure they almost come together at a point at the cuticle. This will create the fan-shaped rippled texture you might see on a seashell. Oval and almond are the best nail shapes for this effect.


4. Pearls


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Flat-backed pearls are a classy and trendy addition to any simple nail look. Apply them like you would any other crystal, making sure to use a good gel that will keep them in place. Whether you add just a few pearls or many, the bumpy texture of this look is sure to please.


5. Steel Plate

This idea is the brainchild of Australian nail artist Lili Taylor and shows just how much fun you can have with 3D gel textures. Taylor took a childhood memory about steel diamond plates and translated the pattern into a creative nail look. This one requires painting alternating groups of stripes in gel over a chrome base to get that steel plate look.


6. Groovy Matte

Inspired by some colorful rugs, this matte look was created by first doing a regular base color with a matte finish, then sprinkling clear acrylic powder over a vibrant gel design before curing. It creates a nice sandy texture and looks a bit like velvet.


7. Crocodile Skin

Usually done in a single color for maximum effect, the popularity of 3D textured croc nails has exploded recently. The technique is similar to the groovy matte look above: sprinkle clear acrylic powder over a gel design. The rough texture is perfect for when you really want that croc skin look.


8. Mercury Drips


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Although elemental mercury is so pretty, we know well that it’s highly toxic. Good thing you can mimic the look of it on your nails! Create your gel drips just like in previous designs, cure, and rub some chrome powder onto them.


9. Acrylic Flowers

A great technique for acrylic technicians to know, 3D flowers are simple to create. For each petal, use a small bead of acrylic, press down as you place, and drag outwards. Complete each flower with a crystal in the center. Now your client is fabulously floral.


10. Crystal Cushion

Everyone knows that fancy cushions give off a feeling of sheer luxury. There are several different ways to achieve this cushion nail design depending on the medium you’re working with, but the easiest way involves regular polish. Coat the nail twice, wait until half-dry, and then use a floss pick to gently press diagonal indents into the polish. This design looks great with a glossy or matte finish. Complete the look by placing a crystal or pearl in each corner.


Bonus: Mix & Match


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Now that you know how to do these 10 trending 3D nail designs, you can combine them endlessly for some seriously funky looks! If you have the right products and tools, all of these looks can be easy to recreate. So go wild and impress your clients with some unique shapes and textures.


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Originally posted on NAILS Magazine