Trippy Tips! Lava Lamp Nails Are the Newest Internet Obsession: Groovy or Gross?

Katie Intner
Liam Peter/Instagram

Pierced, milk bottle-inspired, pearl-adorned – Instagram has birthed some very peculiar manicure trends. But the latest design to take over social media is the most psychedelic by far.

As a nod to the colorful ‘70s decor piece, lava lamp nails have been popping up all over Instagram after Australian-based nail artist and technician Liam Peter recently shared a picture of the design to his account.

Peter’s design features a metallic silver base from the bed of the nail to halfway up, representing the base of a lava lamp, then a long, pointed acrylic crystal-clear nail with orange accents as the lava and finally, a silver tip at the point of the nail.

While the nail artist briefly explained his technique of using two different polishes, he doesn’t go into detail on whether or not the design is healthy for your nails or if it is realistically achievable.

“Our nails get oxygen through the bloodstream, so it’s a common misconception that our nails need to be bare to breathe,” says Catie Ladd, a nail artist at Paintbox in NYC. “It can definitely be achieved in either gel or regular polish. Some polish brands have come out with jelly colors, or topcoat can be mixed with the regular polish to get the same effect. The effect really comes from using a jelly color, or mixing a color with a clear gel or polish to achieve the effect.”

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Ladd notes the nail look doesn’t take long at all – anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half.

Even though this manicure looks out-of-the-box, aspects of the design are on par with this season’s nail trends. “Sheers with graphic neon accents are trending this season for sure,” Ladd adds. “We are also seeing clients choose unexpected color duos inspired by our very own Paintbox Power Couples polish line.”

Since it’s likely the lava lamp design is just a fad, it’s important to know how to remove the psychedelic gel nails if you test the trend out.

Ladd recommends first filing down the shiny layer of the polish to break the seal before soaking the nail in acetone.

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“The best tool for removing gel polish is a 100/180 grit file,” she explains. “You should only use the 180 side when removing the shine, but you may need to use the 100 side to breakdown multiple layers of top coat, builder gel or nail art.”

Since the nail will be brittle from the removal solution, finish by adding cuticle oil. “It’s important to rehydrate your nail, [but] if you are immediately putting polish or gel back on after the removal, do not apply cuticle oil as it may cause lifting,” Ladd says.