If, like us, you suffer from beauty FOMO, you might crumble when we tell you the latest nail trend giving us heart palpitations (in a good way) isn’t readily available this side of the Atlantic… yet. It’s called Needle Nails, and we want in.
Needle Nails is a collaboration between designer Rick Owens’s fashion consultant Ambie Stapleton and her tattoo artist pal, Christian Boyd. Currently inking out of NYC, (they have travelled to London and Paris in the past), Needle Nails involves tattooing the nails.
Unlike a classic tattoo, these designs grow out as your nails do, and, surprisingly, there’s no damage caused to the nail. Gels and shellac can cause chipping, flaking and peeling of the nail’s upper layers. With Needle Nails, because the needle doesn’t penetrate below the nail bed, the epidermis stays safe.
Want in? Thought so. We caught up with Stapleton to give us the Needle Nails 101 (oh, and of course, we tried to sway her to come back to Blighty).
When did Needle Nails launch?
I got my first set on 1 February. Christian told me he had seen it done; I loved the idea and asked him to do it before I left for Paris Fashion Week. I had “love” in script tattooed onto each nail.
Who comes up with the designs?
I come up with what I want, but Christian is the artist, and he freehands the design on each nail. We never intended for it to be a business; I just really liked it and thought it was unique—something you could continue to change once it grew out depending on how you felt.
Are you the only nail tattooists out there?
No, I know it has been done before, as a friend said they used to do it in the ’90s for fun.
Is the ink the same as what's used on skin?
The exact same ink and tattoo gun. It’s not something to play around with, though—you have to know what you're doing.
Can you have coloured designs?
Colour can be done, but we chose black as part of our aesthetic.
How long do the tattoos last?
It depends on your nail growth. My first ones lasted eight weeks, but I drink a lot of kombucha. Another friend’s were at a mid-point at 12 weeks. It looks just as cool as it grows away.
What’s your most popular design?
Everyone is an individual and not one has been more popular than another, although we have had a couple of diamonds. We had one girl get a four-leaf clover and said it was such good luck that she came back again once it grew out.
Do you have a favourite?
I really loved my Cy Twombly flowers and my Franz Kline. I also really loved the I Ching hexagrams.
Is there anyone who should avoid nail tattoos?
Anyone who has compromised nails that don't feel strong and healthy. You’re scratching the surface of the nail, so it’s important they’re durable.
Should you care for them in any specific way?
I do nothing to them, which is why I love them. I’m too rough-and-tumble for a regular manicure; I smudge them before I walk out of the door. The only thing we say is not to wash your hands right away to let the ink set and obvious things like sanding them down while getting a manicure (although I’ve tried it, and it still lasts)!
Talking of damage, how much are Needle Nails?
They’re $50 (£38) for one nail, $140 (£106) for four, and $250 (£190) for 10, although if the design is really complex, it will be more.
Do you have any celebrity clients?
Not yet! I think it would be fun to do certain people, mainly because you have a captive audience for at least an hour! We’ve really enjoyed the people who have come through so far—we’ve had artists, art curators, musicians, students and Vogue editors. I think the best part is the conversations we have while they’re being done. It’s been cool to meet the people who are drawn to them.
Okay, so you’re not here yet, but if we come to you, how do we get an appointment?
Next up, 10 small tattoo ideas you'll love.