Junk Nails Are the Maximalist Y2K Trend to Try for Your Next Mani

December 18, 2023
Reece Andavolgyi
By: Reece Andavolgyi | Makeup.com by L'Oréal
Junk nails selfie on a collage

If you have a soft spot for rhinestones, glitter, knick-knacks, bows and maximalism, “junk nails” are just the kind of thing that gets you excited. With Y2K vibes, this “more is more” nail trend combines color, texture, sparkle, 3D charms and just about anything else you want to put on your nails. They’re trending again, and when you fall down the rabbit hole known as #junknails on Instagram, they’re an exhilarating contrast to all the monochrome, “quiet luxury” nails that are trending alongside them. Sure, they might not be for everyone, but if you’re stuck in a rut of getting the same nail design every time you get a new set, we would argue that there isn’t a more perfect way to switch things up. Keep reading for junk nail inspo to show your nail tech, plus how to easily DIY the look. 

Junk Nail Designs to Inspire Your Next Manicure 

Coquette Junk 

If you’re just a girl that likes bows, this dreamy coquette set combines charms, plaid and glitter — and in some ways, calling it junk just feels wrong.  

Antique Nails

Junk nail perfection, this set is inspired by the findings located inside a treasure chest. It’s a nostalgic blend with lots of textures and colors that are bound to have people stop and ask for a better look. 

One-of-a-Kind Junk

From the cupcake to the cartoon character to the sparkles, this kawaii set wins for creativity. We also love the idea of paying homage to your inner child with cartoon character-inspired nail art.

Junk Frenches

This magical set combines the timeless element of French tips contrasted by the effervescent and slightly chaotic junk design. For something simpler, opt for a junk accent nail. 

Junk Duck Nails

Does it get more Y2K than duck-shaped junk nails? Absolutely not. 

Chrome Junk 

If you’re still hooked on glazed donut nails (because same), combine them with whimsical nail charms to recreate this eye-catching set.

Mismatched Junk

For those that have a hard time deciding on one design, this short set proves that maybe you don’t have to.

How to DIY Junk Nails

Step 1. Prep the Nails

Start by prepping the nails: This includes removing old nail polish, filing them and buffing the top layer to remove any oils. 

Since junk nails are a pretty intricate look, they tend to look best on longer nail shapes. I used the Aprés Gel-X Natural Almond Medium Tips with their Aprés Extend Gel Gold Bottle Edition. You can also use press-on nails, like the Glamnetic Stardust Medium Pointed Almond, to get longer nails in minutes. 

Step 2. Paint the Nails With a Nude Base

Since the star of the show is all the charms and texture, keep the base color simple with Essie Nail Polish in Ballet Slipper or Le Mini Macaron Gel Polish in Nude

Le Mini Macaron Gel Polish in Nude

Step 3. Start Decorating

The fun in recreating this nail trend lies in the decorating! If you have any leftover supplies from past nail art, now is a great time to put it to use. 

For the nail charms, I opted for these bows and rhinestones, and applied them with tweezers and a sturdy nail glue, like Aprés Diamond Gel. Another thing to consider is nail stickers; they’re a game-changer because they allow you to recreate intricate nail designs at home in minutes. I used the Deco Beauty Sparkle Nail Art Stickers and the Sugar and Spice Nail Stickers to complete my junk set. They were so easy to apply and instantly elevated my manicure.

Deco Beauty Sparkle Nail Art Stickers

Step 4. Apply Top Coat

Applying a top coat may be the most important step in recreating junk nails because it’s going to ensure all the charms, rhinestones and nail stickers stay put. Use the Essie Gel Couture Top Coat or Le Mini Macaron Gel Shine Top Coat with the Le Mini Macaron Le Pro - Professional Maxi Lamp. You may need to apply two coats because you want the nail stickers to feel smooth to the touch. 

Finish by applying Essie On A Roll Apricot Cuticle Oil to your cuticles for some hydration. Then you’re ready to start snapping photos of your mani! 

Essie On A Roll Apricot Cuticle Oil
Photographer: Reece Andavolgyi Visual Designer: Juliana Campisi

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