Glitter, Gold and Diamonds: Red Carpet Manicures Go for Sparkle This Season

Yara Shahidi manicure BTS courtesy of Essie Nails - Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Essie Nails

From Debra Messing's $1,500 diamond-covered nails to Lili Reinhart's Swarovski crystals and Margot Robbie's gold leaf, awards season manicures are getting blingy.

While the classic nude and deep red manicures made their usual appearance on the red carpet this season, an increasing number of nominees were using their nails to show off some sparkle. Will & Grace actress Debra Messing kicked off the blingy nail trend when she wore two 0.25-carat diamonds (worth over $1,500) on her metallic and glitter painted nails to the Golden Globes.

“The idea was to have her nails look like sequins and really pop,” said manicurist Elle of the inspiration. “I applied LeChat Dare to Wear polish in 'Knights Honor,' a gunmetal frost, and 'Spectra Stellar Stars,' a silver holographic glitter, to create a perfect blend that was not flat or one- dimensional."
Messing's nails were then left to dry before individual Vero Krew diamonds were applied and secured with gel. "This is really for the girl who wants a different kind of sparkle,"said Elle. "Unlike crystal it stands out when the light hits it. She loved them and wore them again for the Critics' Choice Awards."
Riverdale actress Lili Reinhart sported a similar style at the Golden Globes, but with Swarovski crystals in place of precious stones. "Lili wanted crystals at the base of each nail on her Essie manicure to tie into the jewelry she was wearing that day," said nail artist Steph Stone, who also worked with Constance Wu and Natalia Dyer. "This type of look works out great for red carpet, because you can keep it minimalistic or play it up as much as your client wants. Since we placed the crystals on a neutral nail polish, it was also a look that could be easily worn in everyday life."
"People want to add a bit of personality to their nails," said manicurist Tom Bachik, who counts Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and Selena Gomez among his regular clients. "A single Swarovski crystal is chic or a glitter fade around the cuticle adds depth and complements the color of the polish." For Margot Robbie's 2019 red carpet debut at the SAG awards, Bachik said the direction really came from styling. "After her fitting with Margot, stylist Kate Young texted me with the thought of nude nails with gold sparkles." 
After consulting with makeup artist Pati Dubroff and hairstylist Bryce Scarlett, Bachik eventually chose Chanel nail color #504 Organdi — "a full-coverage soft, pinky nude that looks so great on Margot," he said. "For sparkles, I wanted to go a little fancy so I lightly sprinkled nails with 24-karat gold glitter for a bit of glitz to complement the dress.“
The inspiration for Yara Shahidi's SAG awards manicure also came from the pink sequined Fendi Couture catsuit and sparkly tulle ensemble that the Grown-ish actress wore, said manicurist Emi Kudo. “I searched for a color that didn’t kill the lightness of the dress, but something more unique than a natural polish. Essie’s shimmery 'Going Steady' was the perfect choice."
"We added silver sparkles with Essie 'Set in Stones' around cuticle to make it fade and complement her Cartier diamond jewelry," said Kudo. "A little bit of glitter can really accessorize and polish the look, but you don't want to create a conflict with the jewelry." Bachik agrees, "It's all about complementing the jewelry. You want to bring out the bling in your ring."