This post contains some mild Euphoria spoilers. Approach with caution!
Now that Euphoria is in its second season, the lack of nail art in the first one is glaringly obvious. We’re talking about the fictional teens who started a makeup revolution full of glitter and jewels and neons when the show debuted in 2019 — in retrospect, it makes little sense that they weren’t applying the same attention to detail to their manicures back then. That’s exactly how nail artist Natalie Minerva felt when she watched the show the first time as a fan. “The beauty is such a critical part of the show, and I thought, ‘They need nail art,'” she recalls. “It made sense with these characters; these girls would be wearing nail art in real life.”
Minerva had a gut feeling that she should be the one creating nail looks for the show. Not long after she had this realization, Alexa Demie (who plays Maddy in the series) just happened to saunter into her Los Angeles nail salon. The duo hit it off, and the rest is Euphoria history. “I told her how I felt about [putting nail art on the show], and she was like, ‘Totally, you’re so right.'” After their meeting, Demie discussed the nail-art potential with the show’s producers and put in a good word about Minerva’s work. Minerva also brought it up to lead makeup artist Doniella Davy via Instagram DMs, and she also agreed. “She talked to [creator] Sam Levinson, and he eventually was on board. That’s how it happened,” Minerva reveals.
She credits Demie as the primary reason Euphoria’s nail art even exists. “I don’t think without her help, any of this would have happened,” she says. Minerva continues to do Demie’s manicures off-camera, too.
All that pushing from Minerva, Demie, and Davy was well worth it because, as you already know, Euphoria‘s nail art is nothing short of spectacular. Even if you don’t watch the show, you’ve no doubt seen recreations of its manicures across Instagram and TikTok.
What you might not know, however, is just how much thought goes into every single manicure you may or may not catch a glimpse of on your screen. “I was given the script and told to review it because you do need to know what’s going on with a character; that determines the decision-making of their styling and their general taste and how they’re transitioning it,” Minerva explains.
Each character’s emotional state in a certain episode or scene is directly reflected in their manicure. In episode four, for example, Cassie’s nails look pitch black — a stark contrast to her signature nude pink with rhinestones — as she becomes more and more heartbroken over Nate.
And selecting each manicure is a combined team effort among Minerva, the makeup department, the hair department, and the actors. She creates five to 10 sample nail looks for each episode, then “mish-mashes” them together based on everyone’s notes. “We’re sort of piecing together the puzzle until we have our final nail look [for the episode], and then I make a whole set of press-ons.” She uses gel nail polish on press-on nails exclusively for each episode so actors can switch back and forth between sets in case they need to shoot scenes or episodes out of order.
While Euphoria‘s nail art might seem like an inconsequential detail to some, it’s truly anything but. Below, Minerva runs us through how she created some of the show’s most notable manicures thus far.
Cassie’s Princess Gems
Arguably the most popular nail-art design from the show thus far, Cassie’s princess-pink oval nails with lines of diamonds down the middle were actually Davy’s idea, which Minerva was more than happy to go along with. “Rhinestones just look good on film. They give a little extra glitz and glamour,” she explains. “Based on Cassie and her shift in her character, we felt like adding a little extra glam was important for her nails.”
On a set of Gel-X Natural Round Medium Tips from Aprés, Minerva painted on the brand’s Color Extend Gel in the soft-pink shade Carla. She secured the gems down with the brand’s Soft Gel Builder but recommends Kiss Brush-On Gel Nail Glue for those recreating the look at home.
Maddy’s Tuxedo Nails
Another one of the show’s most popular designs, Maddy’s curvy, black-and-white rectangular nails from episode one were inspired by the late Thierry Mugler. (Maddy gets the most elaborate nail-art in the show because her mom is a nail technician, by the way.) I knew what Alexa was going to wear that black, slinky, sexy dress,” she says. “It had these cutouts at the waist and I thought, ‘Why don’t we mimic that on the nail?'”
Minerva painted the Aprés Color Extend Gel shade Insatiable and Riccagel’s Colorgel 094A on a set of Aprés Gel-X Natural Square Long Tips. Her tips for the most symmetric nail-art designs? “I usually start in the center for those [types of] designs so that they look symmetrical and even throughout,” she explains. “Start in the middle and work your way out.”
Kat’s Malachite French Tips
As Kat transitions from cam-girl to girlfriend, Minerva wanted to give her nails softer, cooler vibes while keeping Kat’s characteristic edge. Inspired by malachite crystals and Barbie Ferreira’s IRL obsession with the color green, these French tips were also a combination of Aprés Gel-X extensions and gel nail polishes from Japanese brand Riccagell — if you haven’t already caught on, Minerva uses both of these brands religiously on the set of Euphoria because of their durability.
To get that color-shifting effect, Minerva marbled several still-wet shades. “I did a French manicure with teal, but I didn’t cure it, then I mixed yellow and neon pink into that so it gives it that swirled effect,” Minerva explains. “The gel just naturally does that when it’s mixed together like that — it coagulates and it creates this rock-like texture.” Once the tips were cured, she outlined the remaining negative space with purple/green glitter.
The specific Riccagel shades she used were Colorgel 073MS, Colorgel 120N, and Colorgel 121N. The glitter is Light Elegance Glitter Gel in Sweater Weather, and it’s all painted on Aprés Gel-X Natural Coffin Medium Tips
Maddy’s Mermaid Net Nails
“We just wanted something that felt right with Maddy’s outfit,” Minerva recalls of this mermaid nail-art design. “She was wearing this seafoam/aqua fur situation. Also, Alexa and I had been really been loving that color palette a lot.”
Though it may look complicated, the method behind that netted chrome design was actually quite simple. After laying down and curing that aquamarine base color, Riccagel Colorgel 215GS, Minerva rubbed Riccagel Clou Chrome Powder in Silver all over each nail. “I painted the net pattern on top of the chrome with a gel topcoat, then I cured it, then I wiped away the residual chrome powder,” she elaborates. “It leaves this truly chrome net pattern on top. I encapsulate it with a topcoat.” She also used Aprés Gel-X Natural Square Long Tips for this look.
Marie’s Gold Chrome
Fez’s gun-slinging grandmother does not play around when it comes to drugs, money, or manicures, which is why she’s Minerva’s “low-key favorite character.” When ideating her nail look, Minerva knew metallics were necessary because her action-packed plotline required nail colors that easily grabbed the eye with shine.
Plus, “I wanted to go gold because this was flashback scene — we’re talking around 10 years beforehand,” Minerva explains. “I wanted the look to have a slight tackiness to it, so I really went yellow gold on it. And I’m so glad I did because it looked so great with that blue outfit.”
Yet again, Minerva relied on Aprés and Riccagel for the gold-chrome nail art. On a set of Gel-X Natural Round Short Tips, she applied Riccagel’s Colorgel 094A, a pitch-black hue, which she topped with a gold chrome powder from Xichen. Of course, everything was sealed in with a gel topcoat.
Maddy’s Neon-Green Gingham
Maddy’s neon-green gingham French tips — accompanied by tiny gems, hearts, butterflies, and sparkles — are definitely not easy to recreate at home. However, if you know a nail technician who could pull off such intricate detailing, you can tell them this look is a combination of Riccagel shades Colorgel 120N, Colorgel 086M, Colorgel 003MS, Colorgel 001M, and Colorgel 088M.
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