If you’re looking for a unique service to add to your menu, consider testing the waters with a current nail art trend: aquarium nails. Also known as “water bubble nails” and “snow globe nails,” these enhancements feature encased nail embellishments (like glitter and rhinestones) that are suspended in water and continuously flow through the nail.

Nail tech Telsa Croop of Karen’s Hair Designs in Ravenna, Ohio, charges $5 per aquarium nail. Here’s her tutorial.


1. Before the actual appointment date, have a client consultation to choose the proper tip size.


2. Connect the half-well tip to the full-well tip of the same size by applying clear acrylic in the small well and gently laying it on top of the full well. Let dry. Seal the sides with clear acrylic, but leave the top open. Let dry.


3. Using an extra tip as a scooping device, add embellishments through the open top of the glued-together tip, making sure not to fill it more than halfway. “Opposing colors work best, such as pink and blue versus multiple shades of pink,” Croop says.


4. Fill a small syringe (purchased at any drugstore) with distilled water. (Put the syringe in a cup of distilled water and suction it out.) Put the syringe far inside the tip opening and slowly add water, trying to avoid air bubbles. “I flick the bottom of the tip to encourage the air bubbles to surface,” Croop says. When it’s completely filled, seal with clear acrylic. Let dry. File the tip smooth.


5. (Optional) Glue a few thin sequins onto the client’s natural free edge; this way it’s less obvious when the nail starts to grow out because the free edge embellishments fill in some of the gap.


6. Apply the finished aquarium nail to the client’s prepped nail. Use clear or colored acrylic to seal the enhancement to the client’s nail. Apply clear polish.

Editor’s Note: Aquarium nails are best as a short-term nail. Bacteria and fungus thrive in water, so, for instance, if water becomes trapped under the enhancement it could become a breeding ground for certain types of nail diseases. Advise your clients to be watchful of any changes to their natural nails and to come in for removal if the enhancement is leaking.  

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