Tutorial: tortoiseshell nail art [step by step]

Offering the hottest nail art trends in your salon will help you stand out from the competition and cement your reputation as the go-to place for an amazing manicure. 

Although colour block nails and neon brights have been popular this spring/summer, clients are now opting for the cute but intricate tortoiseshell design to adorn their nails. Salon System nail tech Karen Louise shows you how to recreate the look. 

Get the look: 

  1. Prep nails by filing to shape, pushing back cuticles and buffing the nail plate, followed by a cleanse 
  1. Use a bonder, such as Gellux Fast Bond, on nails and let dry, before applying two coats of a pink base coat and cure
  1. On a piece of foil, put a 10p-sized amount of a matte base, such as Gellux Matte Base, and mix it with a yellow gel-polish, like Gellux’s Lemon Sorbet (which is used here). 

    Using a gel brush, apply the mixture over the base of each nail to get a sheer coverage and cure. Then, apply a second coat but don’t cure it this time 
  1. Mix a 10p-sized amount of a matte base and orange gel-polish (like Gellux’s Orange-A-Peel) on foil, then apply random patches to nails, trying not to smudge it 
  1. Repeat step four but this time mix the matte base witha chocolate brown gel-polish, layering this combination over the sides of the orange splodges, applying random patches. Flash cure. 

    Repeat this process again using a dark green gel-polish and then a black gel-polish, again layering it randomly to create the desired effect. Flash cure
  1. Using the formulation of the matte base and lemon sorbet mix, layer this over the entire nail and cure. Add a small amount of glitter on each nail and cure, before applying the top coat. Cure again 
  1. Wipe the nails clean and massage in a nail and cuticle oil to finish the look. 

From shrinkage and chipping, to speeding up your technique, check out our gel-polish troubleshooting guide to make sure you deliver a first-class service every time. 

Image: Salon System