Acrylic Nails

Behind the Scenes: Russian Cathedral Nails

Impeccable Artistry: Inspired by St. Basil's Cathedral, NTNA finalist Lexi Martone made these landmark nails for our May cover. 

We first met Lexi Martone two years ago when she entered the first season of NAILS Next Top Nail Artist (NTNA). As a brand new nail tech, she wowed us with her artistry and perfection right off the bat. She made it into the Top 6 that first year and vowed to come back in season two. And what an impressive comeback she made. Winning a record five weeks and ending up as our 1st runner-up, Lexi inspires her 47,000+ Instagram followers with her crisp lines, her raw talent, and her creative mind.

During the course of the two years she was competing in NTNA, we saw Lexi create a spinning pizza, a music-playing boombox, a smoking cauldron, and countless other impressive nail creations. Her innovation was inspiring and pushed the contest to an entirely different level.

At her home studio in Dix Hills, N.Y., Lexi has been working for herself for the last two years. “I decided to work at home because I wanted to work for myself and set my own hours, pricing, etc.,” says Lexi. “Also not many salons around here would appreciate or understand the type of artwork I do.” She spends most of her time seeing clients, but tries to dedicate at least one day a week (and sometimes late nights) to creating art. (Of course, that was modified during the weeks when she was working on nail art for the competition.)

<p>When Lexi Martone (left) arrived at the NAILS photo studio, she was a little nervous when we told her she only had four or five hours to complete the nails. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a crazy perfectionist when it comes to little details and I knew my nails were ambitious,&rdquo; says Lexi, who also had to deal with redoing some nails when she wasn&rsquo;t happy with one of the products she was using.&nbsp; &ldquo;The cover shoot was awesome! I loved doing it. Overall I really love how the nails turned out.&rdquo;</p>

Since entering the first year of NTNA, she’s seen quite the whirlwind of activity. “I’ve had so many amazing opportunities over the past two years. I met Elle at last year’s NTNA finale party and have been working a lot with her,” she says of her friend and manager. “I’ve done celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Katie Holmes, Leah Remini, Blake Lively, and the Victoria’s Secret Angels. I worked on set of the Jay Manuel Beauty launch shoot and got to do a Seventeen Magazine fashion spread with (illustrator and head of creative development at Bobbi Brown) Donald Drawbertson. I’ve also been featured on Buzzfeed, Teen Vogue, and ‘The Chew’ on ABC. And I recently worked with The Painted Nail for Katy Perry’s jewelry launch with Claire’s while I was in California for the NTNA competition.”

With all that excitement, we are left wondering what could be next. Lexi and her sister (who is currently enrolled in school to become a makeup artist) have plans to team up and open a full-service salon. But Lexi is looking for balance. “I think having my own salon and then balancing between that and celebrity work is my ultimate goal. Right now I’m going to focus on the salon and see where that takes me.”

Here’s how you can get this month’s cover look.

1. Prep the nails for acrylic application and apply forms. Lexi used Young Nails Speed Clear Acrylic to start sculpting the first section on the nail bed.

2. Remove the forms and file to perfect the shape and smooth out any bumps.

3. Reapply the forms and begin to sculpt the next section of the nail using Young Nails Speed Clear Acrylic.

4. Remove the forms once again and use an e-file to perfect the edges and get into all of the little grooves. Then reapply the forms and begin sculpting your next section.

5. Continue the process of sculpting and e-filing each section until you reach the final section that comes to a point.

6. Once the shapes were all sculpted and filed, Lexi applied the metallic gels to most of the sections. She used Presto Gel and a Young Nails striper brush for the rest of the shapes and to paint the line details. Be as creative as you want when painting the patterns on these nails. Cure in between colors according to your preferred gel-polish brand’s instructions. Lexi used pictures of Russian churches’ onion-shaped domes to guide her final designs. Seal everything with a no-wipe top coat and cure.

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