Anyone who visited a nail salon in the 2000s likely remembers the following shared experience: you walk in, Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" is playing in the background, and you're told to select a nail-polish colour from the wall. Once seated, you opt for a short square length (because truly no other shape seems to exist), and after a few coats of polish, you choose a single tiny design to get on your ring finger. If you're going on holiday, it's likely a white palm tree or tropical flower; for a school party, maybe a single rhinestone or a zebra print if you're feeling fancy.
The list of recently resurrected Y2K beauty trends is a long one. From french manicures to claw clips and lip gloss, the early Noughties are influencing every inch of the beauty industry again. In spite of all this, we still didn't expect single-finger accent nails to make it onto our 2023 bingo card — yet here we are. If you keep up with red carpet events, you may have noticed a startling number of celebrities opting to get nail art on only one finger, directly opposing the maximalist approach to designs — where every inch of every fingernail is covered — that has reigned supreme in the last few years.
"Nail art is having a major minimalistic moment," celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec tells POPSUGAR. "With 'supermodel' nails, 'lip gloss' nails, and blush nails, everyone is loving an understated mani this summer. This also comes down to nail art just on one finger à la the 1990s, where we would only do one ring finger."
For this year's Met Gala, Kandalec created a manicure like this on Emily Blunt. She used black polish as the base before adhering a Chanel charm to her ring finger on each hand. "It's a nod to the minimalistic vibe and also a throwback to the Y2K era," she says.
And she's not the only one enjoying this throwback style. For fashion's biggest night of the year, celebrity manicurist Kim Truong did Miranda Kerr's nails in a neutral base with a white flower on her pointer fingers, while celebrity manicurist Tom Bachik paired a ring-finger accent nail with a matte base and a side french tip for Jennifer Lopez. Similarly, celebrity nail artist Zola Ganzorigt decorated Madelyn Cline's middle finger with a single fleur-de-lis. To bring this trend into the 2020s, less is more. You can pair it with additional minimal designs, like the manicure Lopez wore, or just opt for simple shapes, like a flower or the Chanel logo. The key is to keep it uncomplicated. The proof is all over Instagram: accent nails are back.