Junk Nails Are Taking Over Our Social Media Feeds

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As with anything else, there’s a place for low-maintenance manicures in anyone’s routine — after all, who can deny the appeal of “rich girl” nails? — but if you’re a maximalist, there are even more design options to choose from. You could consider “vagina” nails (yeah, you read that right) or the social media-favorite “coquette” nails. Or you could opt for the latest trend making the rounds: “junk” nails.

The look, which is one-part frenzied and two-parts spectacular, is essentially just doing whatever the hell you want with your nails. It takes what someone might consider junk and turns it into a central piece of your manicure. It’s trash — but in an intentional way. Can’t picture it? Don’t worry, we asked two nail experts to break down everything to know about the junk nails trend, including what it is and how you can achieve the trend for yourself.

Experts Featured in This Article

Liana Thomson is a nail expert at
Nadine Abramcyk is the cofounder of Tenoverten.

What Are “Junk” Nails?

Put simply, junk nails are a maximalist trend with multiple different features and zero rules. “This nail craze captivates a fusion of vibrant hues; 3D elements like rhinestones, beads, glitter; and eccentric nail art,” Liana Thomson, nail expert, tells PS. That means junk nails can be whatever you want them to be, adds Nadine Abramcyk. “There are no rules to the composition, and each nail can look different,” she says. “They are a freeform expression of manicure art.”

From what we’ve seen on social media, people are taking the option to add whatever they want to their nails very seriously. TikTok users who have showcased their own junk nails on the platform have been seen adding up to 10 different charms to just one nail.

As for why they’re so popular? Well, maximalist nail trends are having a moment right now, and even celebrities like Hailey Bieber, who was once the poster girl for minimalist nails, have recently been seen with more intricate designs. “With junk nails, each nail serves as a different canvas,” Abramcyk says. “They’re a wonderful tool for self-expression and help unlock untapped outlets of creative freedom.”

Plus, they work for everyone. While most iterations of junk nails we’ve seen have been on naturally long nails or acrylic nails, Thomson says not to worry if you have short, natural nails. “There are no rules in nail design and you can achieve the same look on short nails; just be selective in your design choices as the nail bed space is more limited.”

How to Get Junk Nails

First, know that this trend isn’t for the faint of heart — or those without the time to commit to the look. “Junk nails require an investment of time depending on the intricacy of your chosen design,” Thomson says. “A traditional solid color manicure typically takes one to two hours, and venturing into the realm of 3D nails demands three to four hours at the nail salon.”

If you’re looking to test the waters with junk nails but you aren’t ready to go all out, Abramcyk says she suggests just playing around with a fun product like the Tenoverten Coney Island Polish ($14). “It’s a shimmery polish with silver micro stars, and the subtle smattering of the star flecks displays the understated amount of nail pandemonium I crave.”

On the other hand, if you’re looking to get straight into it and dive into the deep end, there are two ways to do it. Either make an appointment with a professional or try it on your own at home. “Given the intricacies of this trend, entrusting a professional is recommended for a flawless outcome,” Thomson says. However, if you want to go the DIY route, Thomson suggests first embellishing false nails and then adhering them to your fingertips. If you’re looking for nail charm inspiration, we love the Amazon Nail Art Charms ($6) or the Amazon 3D Flower Rhinestones Kit ($10), which both have plenty of options to choose from.

Junk Nails Inspiration

Whether you’re ready to give junk nails a try or you just want to take a closer look at what the latest craze is all about, keep scrolling to see some of our favorite versions of the trend.

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