How To Create Tortoiseshell Nails, Because They're Instagram's Fave New Trend

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Recently, I've become straight up obsessed with nail art. While before I was all about a classic nude or sophisticated red solid colour, now I seek out the most intricate designs, fun colours, and bold textures. And the nail design I have been lusting after for as long as I can remember is tortoiseshell. Yep, super glossy brown, black and yellow nails that look like sunglasses have been on my wish list for aaaages now, and when I finally had the chance to get them, I was pretty delighted. Wondering how to get tortoiseshell nails yourself? Here's everything you need to know about the highly on-trend design.

So let's start with the basics. What exactly are tortoiseshell nails, and how is the look created? Well, unfortunately, the process is rather technical, and pretty long winded. I had mine done at an amazing salon in Dalston, East London, called Still London, where they only use non-toxic polish and gel polish, and are experts in awesome nail art. The team in there are all so lovely, too. But I was in the chair for nearly 90 minutes, so it takes some definite dedication to get this look.

Speaking about how she created my nails, Marissa Marsh, who works at Still London, explained: "It's a layering technique that uses a mustard yellow sheered down with a base coat to give the layer look, then a brown and black blended with a small brush with remover to blend out the tortoise shell marks."

If you want more of a visual view of the process, this video by nail artist Masha Create shows it off well:

The emphasis here is on the layering; Marissa applied a total of six layers to my nails to get the perfect tortoiseshell finish. Because of this, she says, it's much better to go to someone at a nail salon rather than trying to do it yourself. Because of the multiple layers, it can be tricky to do yourself, and is best done in gel rather than normal polish. And while this ensures a picture-perfect professional finish, it isn't exactly cheap. The service at Still is £64, and most nail salons will charge a similar amount due to the intricacy and time spent.

So why is the tortoiseshell nail trend so damn popular right now? "I think it’s a classic print in fashion, popular in accessories and I guess your nails are an accessory to every outfit," comments Marissa.

There are also multiple ways to wear the trend, making it pretty versatile. These include:

Classic tortoiseshell:

Tortoiseshell tips:

Squared off tortoiseshell nails:

Sheer tortoiseshell nails:

Glitter tortoiseshell nails:

All I know is that I am absolutely loving my tortoiseshell nails, and have compliments and comments made about them daily.

You can get tortoiseshell nails in gel polish at Still London for £64. When booking, select the 'full set tailored nail art' option. Lots of other nail salons in the UK offer the look, just inquire before booking.