Blooming Gel Is The Secret To Creating The Hottest Nail Art Designs

Here’s everything you need to know.

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When it comes to the hottest manicure trends right now, quite a few stand-out nail art looks come to mind.

For one, crocodile print nails have been having their main character moment this winter, with A-listers like Hailey Bieber tapping the patterned tips in a dark chocolate brown shade. Similarly, tortoiseshell nails are on the rise, with Sydney Sweeney a big fan, while TikTok-viral trends like “pool water nails” are being sported in increasingly creative ways.

Some manicure loyalists hit up their favorite salons every few weeks, but many nail art aficionados opt to paint their tips at home instead. And while some manicurist-approved supplies are only available to seasoned pros in the industry (like certain chrome powder toppers, for one), experimenting with “blooming gel” might just be the best kept secret for a trendy DIY nail design.

What Is Blooming Gel?

“Blooming gel nails [are a] trendy marbling and watercolor nail art design,” Morgan Haile, a pro manicurist and Gelish brand ambassador, tells Bustle. “In the past, marbling and watercolor nail art could be tricky to achieve, [but] blooming gel allows users to create these looks within minutes.”

A clear gel that cures under a UV lamp, products like Gelish’s Blooming Gel Polish are used to disperse color.


Adding a blooming gel polish into your personal nail painting kit allows you to experiment with painstakingly detailed designs like the celeb-loved croc print, marbled quartz art, groovy tie-dye swirls, and more.

How To Use Blooming Gel

For those who want to experiment with blooming gel at home, you’ll need colored gel polish and an LED-powered UV lamp. As for a step by step on creating the trippy effects? Haile shared her method.

After applying coats of your preferred gel colors, cure. Once finished, apply a thin coat of blooming gel and do not cure. With a dotting tool or a brush, apply the desired colors to create the bloom effect and cure for about 30 seconds. Finish off with a top coat, and you’re all set.

Pro Tips For At Home Painters

While blooming gel formulas are available for any non-professional to purchase and experiment with, Anna Miles, a professional manicurist, has insight for those interested in purchasing a bottle.

“Blooming products are not compatible with traditional nail polish,” Miles says. Noting that it can be tricky to use and that contact dermatitis is a potential risk, she recommends that you visit a professional for the best results.

Fair warnings aside, however, Miles says that for best results when working with blooming gel, she often works on one nail at a time (rather than painting an entire hand before curing). Further, the success of the “blooming” depends on the exact pigmentation of the gel colors you’re using — so there can be quite a bit of trial and error before nailing the exact look you want.

Haile adds: “Less is more — using too much blooming gel can cause your design to be smudged or look distorted.” She also says to avoid overdoing it with dots, as too many will make your design look cluttered. Lastly, she warns against using too many dark colors, since they can make your desired design more difficult to see.

4 Blooming Gel Nail Designs

Alien Superstar Print

Whether you opt for a whole lot of neutrals or much prefer a set in full color, these unique dots, swirls, and patterns have an extraterrestrial vibe that’s super trendy in mani space right now.

Pearly Frost

A super realistic white croc print? Check. A wintery, frosted finish that looks holographic? Check. Unique pearls and rhinestones placed all over the nails? Also check.

Groovy Tie-Dye Tips

In the world of beauty, all things 1970s-inspired are truly taking over — and what better way to embrace the playful trend than with some groovy tie-dye tips?

Colorful Croc Print Frenchies

Take classic French tips to a creative new level and experiment with an out-there crocodile print design that features two vivid colors, like this purple and blue combination.