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Mani Monday: This Is the Deal With Red-Carpet Nails This Awards Season

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Taraji P Henson

Celeb manicurist Michelle Saunders, who works with the likes of Taraji P. Henson and Taylor Schilling, dishes on this season's latest nail trends.

The mani cam may be a thing of the past and blinged-out nail art may be dimming, but what celebs choose to sport as their red-carpet manicure still matters as far as the overall "package" this awards season.

Also, nails today more than ever are a barometer of what is happening in fashion and pop culture, or in the case of the red carpet, the dress and the artist.

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Shape, color and edginess factor rely on what kind of artist is sporting the mani to an awards show, says essie celebrity manicurist Michelle Saunders, whose clients include Taylor Schilling, Taraji P. Henson and Ruby Rose. For instance, a pop star like Katy Perry is more likely to have long, pointy, embellished nails than, say, an actress like Jennifer Lawrence.

But across the board during this awards season so far, we’ve seen pared-down styles, less aggressive shapes and decor, and actually much more nude (better the nails than the dress) than in past years.

Here, Saunders shares her take on red-carpet nail trends and a bit of the psychology of, ahem, nailing the right look for those close-up shots where a celebrity may likely be holding her clutch, showing off her jewelry or in some cases, clutching a golden statuette.

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Based on the Golden Globes nail trends, it seems like nude nails rule. Do you agree? And why do you think everyone is opting for barely there and skin-toned shades? 

Nail trends that go down the red carpet mimic fashion, so as much as I'd like to push the color of the season, the stylist has the last word on that. It always revolves around the dress.

The long and pointy shapes also seem to be much more pared down. Is this true? And why do you think this is the case?

The line that divides shapes and lengths down the red carpet is whether or not the celebrity represents music, film or fashion. For example, look for the nail difference between Katy Perry, Jennifer Lawrence and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

NAILED IT: The manicures of Katy Perry, left, Jennifer Lawrence and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. (Photos: Getty Images)

Are celebrities still donning a lot of nail art? Why or why not?

I do have to say, not too many celebrities have asked for nail art for red carpet recently, but once in a while subtle nail art could be fun, like the nail look I did for Meghan Trainor at the 2015 American Music Awards.

As far as nudes go, what are some do's and don'ts for the red carpet or a more formal affair? Are there certain shades to stick to so nails don't disappear and still show up well on camera and on the red carpet?

The nude you put on the client depends on how well it will show up next to the dress. Sometimes you want it to complement, sometimes you want it to contrast. I always offer several choices!

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What are a few of your favorite nude shades?

I love Perennial Chic, Sand Tropez, Mademoiselle and All Eyes on Nudes — all by essie ($8.50 each).

Do you foresee a return to deep and dramatic reds come Oscar time?

Reds of all shades are a must-have in the manicure kit, because they are always an option.

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