Alex Crop

Candy crush: Japan’s kawaii-styling on nails

By Alex Fox | 01 February 2021 | Feature, Tech Talk

Nana Sharp Texas

A passion for Japanese fashion since childhood led Nana Sharp from Texas, USA, to explore the idea of taking this fashion onto fingertips. When no obvious outlet for obtaining a stylised individual set of gyaru-style nails became apparent, Nana posted a request on Facebook. Unsurprisingly, this led to a flurry of rude and obnoxious comments from those on social media with little else to do; yet fortunately it also opened the door to a sprinkling of nail techs that were keen to help and fulfil the brief. As Nana notes, “Out of the group, Anna Lou’s work stood out most to me.”

Based in the UK, Anna Lou, known as the The Real Nail Addict, recalls, “An FB friend of mine tagged me in Nana’s post in a nail art community group. The post was reaching out for an artist that could create their dream nails. I felt sad to read in the post that they cited getting ridiculed enough in real life, and was asking for that to not be the case with regards to this request.

“The style of nail was not one I get to do as a rule and for me, it was not about money, but wanting to create these dream nails. There were thousands of comments from all over the world, so I really didn’t expect to get a response when I messaged saying it would be an honour for me to create the nails, as I loved their unique style and was up for the challenge.

“I absolutely love the Kawaii genre as it’s so playful, colourful and pretty; it’s overload in a great way, with so many things all in one place. It’s busy, exciting, different and so imaginative.

“They took 12 weeks to complete as I tackled one nail at a time starting with a gel polish and burnished glitter base. With kawaii-style nails, each is its own work of art as so much is put into the design, that it’s almost sensory overload for each one.

“Nana gave me some ideas of the look to be fashioned, so I had a blueprint to build from. This included cute candy colours with OTT bling and each on a super long tip. I thoroughly enjoyed making the candy pieces and adding dangling chains, sculpting acrylic love hearts and even a mini gingerbread man. Almost like putting together a jigsaw, each element was placed on the nail tips with every single millimetre of space taken, so that everywhere the eyes fall there’s something fresh and cool to look at. I added huge jewellery charms to the design, which being so large with so many elements, needed to be robust, so if they were knocked, they would not fall off. I secured them all using clear acrylic and then top coated the entire design.”

Products used:

XXL Long full cover tips

Pure Elegance lavender gel polish

Sparkle Supplies grape sorbet multi-cut glitter

Ugly Duckling No Wipe top coat

Glass Slippers clear acrylic

Glitterbels coloured acrylics

Kupa Matte top coat

Random jewellery charms

Jewellery chain

Nail glue Kawaii charm

Q: What is kawaii style?

A: Loveable, cute, adorable, shy, charming; kawaii is a culture of cuteness in Japan. It’s a prominent aspect of Japanese popular culture and seen in entertainment, food, toys, clothing and style contexts.