Aquarium nails are not new, but a video showing a thin and wearable interpretation of the design went viral recently and it caused a wave of inspiration for nail techs. The video was produced by Wichita Falls, Texas-based nail tech Tony Ly and it gave new life to the liquid-infused acrylic nail enhancement. Despite his newfound fame online, Ly stays humble. He says he practices new nail designs on clients on a daily basis and focuses on mastering new techniques. “You have to keep learning,” he says. “If you don’t, you can’t continue to be better.”
1. Add a form. Sculpt clear acrylic. Build it out very thin, making sure you cover the entire nail evenly.
2. Cut a clear nail tip with a tip cutter. Size it so that the top and bottom of the nail tip are slightly shorter than the sculpted nail. When you finish this step, there should be a gap near the cuticle area between the sculpted nail and nail tip.
3. Cap the tip and sides with clear acrylic. Leave the gap near the cuticle area open.
4. Insert glitter into the gap near the cuticle. You can use different sizes of glitter pieces and colors inside the nail but be careful with red glitter or dyed glitter because they can stain the liquid color.
5. Insert the liquid using a syringe or squeeze cap that you can load to insert the liquid. Ly suggests using a liquid that is slightly thicker than water (especially since bacteria and fungus thrive in water) or a liquid thinner than cuticle oil. Ly uses Lancome eye makeup remover. You can fill the whole nail with liquid if you want, but Ly likes having a little air bubble because it creates movement inside the nail.
6. Seal the cuticle area. Seal the whole nail with clear acrylic powder.
7. File and buff the nail until smooth.
8. Add a subtle design by adhering star embellishments and a mistletoe decal. Apply clear gel top coat over the entire nail. Cure.
Follow Ly on Instagram: @tonysnail.