Danielle Costantino (right), with model Ciara Pisa says the cover shoot was “probably one of the best days of my life!”

Danielle Costantino (right), with model Ciara Pisa says the cover shoot was “probably one of the best days of my life!”

Last year’s NAILS’ Next Top Nail Artist second runner up, Danielle Costantino, has a few tricks up her sleeve when it comes to mixed-media nail design. Actually, she has a few million. The Cranston, R.I. nail artist showed her phenomenal skills in competition after competition, wowing the judges with intricate renderings of steampunk design, “Frozen”-inspired art, and L.A. street scenes.

After winning her place in the Top 3, Costantino came to the NAILS studio to work on her cover. The challenge this time? Capture the spirit of the ancient Aztec civilization on nails. “Working on the NAILS cover shoot was surreal,” Costantino says. “But everyone was so kind and welcoming, I felt like part of the family.”

Formerly the owner of two tanning salons, Costantino fell in love with nail artistry and sold the salons so that she could devote herself to nails. She works at Gina Silvestro’s Gel Essentialz Salon and is an educator for Gel Essentialz and a contributor to Akzentz’ blog. It was clear to the NAILS staff that Costantino didn’t need a lot of guidelines to create an amazing tribal-inspired cover look.

Here's how you can get this month's cover look:

1. Choose a neutral color palette with a pop of color. Starting with a prepped nail, apply a coat of Akzentz Luxio in Base and cure for 30 seconds. Next, polish the nail with two coats of base color, Akzentz Luxio in Neutral, curing in between coats.

2. Using a flat oval brush, fade Akzentz Luxio in Hypnotic Coral from tip to cuticle. Pat the uncured product with the flat side of the brush, pulling towards the cuticle. Eventually, you’ll create an ombre. When satisfied, cure for 30 seconds.

3. Using a small #2 detail brush, begin creating the Aztec pattern using Akzentz Gel Play in Black.

4. When creating your pattern, try to stay very symmetrical yet vary the width of your lines for an added dimensional element. When the lines are to your liking, cure for 30 seconds.

5. Add Akzentz Luxio in Tiffany in the lower center section of the design and cure for 30 seconds.

6. Fill in the two center sections of the design with Orly Gel Fx in Luxe and cure for 30 seconds.

7. Apply a top coat using Akzentz Luxio in Gloss and cure for 30 seconds.

8. To create the rest of the set, use various techniques for nails that are unique. Some have a mixture of Swarovski crystals and spikes, others have bold lines, colors, and dimensional aspects. The variety should be complementary and flow well.  

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