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London-based nail artist Sabrina Gayle loves graphic design. But when she “couldn’t quite get to grips with computers,” she turned to canvases, then faces, and eventually nails. With a background in fine art and makeup artistry, her manicures often take inspiration from other disciplines. Bold colors, lines, and shapes define her most eye-catching work, but she’s just as skilled at creating the perfect clean nail. Her celebrity clients include Keira Knightley, Florence Pugh, and Emilia Clarke, and when she’s not doing nails for the red carpet, she’s working on major fashion and beauty campaigns.
Here, Gayle gives her tips and tricks for painting a universal nude manicure, nail art for beginners, and a longer-lasting paint job.
What are some of the biggest inspirations for your work?
“I love Pat McGrath, and the John Galliano [Christian Dior Fall/Winter] 2003 show. That amazed me. I’m very much about color and shape as you can see by my nails, so seeing that was just like magic. And then the French photographer Serge Lutens as well. His work was absolutely amazing. He used a lot of black and white monochrome, and then there’ll be lots of color. I remember seeing all of his Shiseido campaigns back in the day, and still research a lot of his stuff now. It’s very prominent to me in my work. Also, a lot of my nail art is very bold and made of shapes or it can be really simplistic, but there’s still something really striking. That goes back to looking at Picasso and Gaugin. I loved their work in particular when I was younger, so my eye is from that really.
There was a lot of interest I never even realized as a young child that stood out to me, too. I’m a big movie buff. I was an only child, so I literally watched so many movies. Like Earth Girls are Easy, where there was just so much beauty and nails, and Total Recall. Definitely concerts and music videos, too. I was very much into R&B and hip-hop back in the day. So going back to the ‘80s, J.J. Fad and SWV had amazing long, crazy nails, but it always stood out to me. There’s a lot of inspiration coming away from fashion there, too.”
What type of nail art would you recommend for someone trying to DIY at home?
“A dotting tool is the best way to go, because you could have it really simple, clean and then add one dot up to as many dots as you want. You can choose different colors, but have a base of color and then work with the dotting tool to create something else. It’s so simple without having to get to grips with doing straight lines and things like that, because that’s tricky and comes with time. So a dotting tool, 100 percent, and maybe some monochrome nails as well. If you want something that’s going to stand out, just use black and white. You get a really bold statement.”
What are your favorite nail products?
“My go-to is Chanel’s La Base. It’s such a beautiful color as well as a base coat. I use it for any client. I have this really clean nail that I do–a coat of La Base, then a coat of the [Chanel] Ballerina, and topped again with La Base. Rather than it being too pink, it’s got a really nice whiteness to it. I’ll use that and then a matte topcoat. Matte is brilliant for, say if you have a slight discoloration in the nails, pop a bit of matte on, and it enhances the natural color. People don’t realize how important a matte top coat is, but it’s fantastic.”
What’s your personal preference for you nails?
“My nails are normally natural and they grow quite quickly. I tend to keep them to a certain length that’s just over my nail bed and I have them oval. I don’t really wear nail art myself unless I want to do a post for Instagram. I’ll normally do a really bold color, like green or orange or violet (they’re my favorite colors), or very clean, classic nudes.”
Do you have a nail care routine?
“I get a bit happy with cuticle tools. I’m constantly doing my cuticles, and I have done so since I was really young. I can’t live without my cuticle pusher, a little nipper to get away to get rid of any of the little hang nails, and a buffer. I gently buff the nail to always keep the nail plate clean. It’s advisable to buff the nail to prep before you put polish on as well, because it makes your nails last a lot longer.”
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createdAt:Thu, 06 Aug 2020 11:54:19 +0000