Optical illusion French nails are the trippy manicure trend that’s started trending in many countries

We’ve spoken about golden hour skin, and golden hour hair, where clever techniques make the light look like it’s hit just right. But a new mani trend, optical illusion nails, is taking off on social, and like its predecessors, it plays with the idea of light and shade in the most beautiful and eye-catching way.

So far the hashtag #opticalillusionnails has scooped up over 2.2 million views on TikTok, with videos showing users how to create the next step on from gradient nails. The trend also goes by ombré illusion nails and optical illusion French tips.

The technique involves creating a soft gradient down the centre of the nails moving from a darker shade into a lighter shade, before the design is then reverse-mirrored in the Frenchie tip. The effect is trippy but pretty and makes nails look like they’ve bit spotlit by the sunset.

Nail artist Brittney Ellen (@brushedbyb_) took to Instagram to share the latest trend. “This gradient trend is 🔥🔥,” she said. “Y’all know how much I love gradients, so I didn’t want to waste my time recreating this look with one of my favourite shades.”

Brittney used Light Lacquers polish in sunshine shades Coney Island (a warm mango orange) and Paper Snow (a true white) to create a golden hour mani. She started by painting her whole nail in Coney Island, then she used a sponge with a stripe of Coney Island next to a stripe of Paper Snow and  bounced it onto her nail to create an ombre between the two shades vertically down the centre of her nail.

Next she used a fine nail detailer brush to draw in half a white French tip above the orange side of her nail, and completed the other half in orange above the white side of her nail. She took the same sponge as before, reversed it and used a stripe of Paper Snow next to Coney Island to create the reverse mirror ombre on the tip, before finishing everything off with a glossy top coat.

But, aside from a sunset mani, we’ve seen it remixed in multiple ways on TikTok, in multiple shades.

Here’s 10 more ways to wear optical illusion nails…

Brown and greige

Gold and white

Dark and light purple

Black and grey

Grape and kiwi

Pink and blue

Black and white

Brown and taupe

Light and dark blue


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