Written by Katie Barnes - multi-award international winning nail artist, educator, competition judge and brand owner.

There are numerous ways to adhere gems and crystals to nails, and most techs will have their favourite technique, such as nail glue, top-coat and gel. Below I will share a step-by-step of my preferred method for long lasting crystals using the pantone colour of the year - blue.

Gel is my favourite method to apply nail crystals. A flexible but stiff gel, such as Missu Jewellery Gel, is ideal for longevity so as the nail flexes so does the gel, giving the crystal more staying power.

One of most important considerations for endurance, especially with larger crystals, is using enough gel to ensure it grips around the entire edge of each crystal’s base - as if it was a prong holding a diamond in a ring. Guaranteeing a thorough cure when using gel is paramount for longevity, and to avoid uncured product coming into contact with the client.

Step by step for flat back crystal application

  1. Apply matte or non-wipe top coat to the finished nail.
  2. Place your selected crystals in a triangle tray for ease of picking up. Using a brush or dotting tool to apply jewellery gel where you wish to apply the crystals. Apply a generous amount so the gel can grip around the crystal and act as an anchor. If you have applied too much, you can dip a brush into cleanser and remove prior to curing.
  3. Apply non-wipe top coat over the top of this bead of gel before curing. Use a Crystal Katana™, dotting tool or tweezers to place the gem into the gel, use the metal end of the tool to press this into the gel so it can really grip round the base. By applying non-wipe top coat over the gel, this ensures a tacky layer isn’t left which can be tricky to remove after applying the crystal.
  4. When using a wax-tipped tool, it is important to keep sharpening this (I use a nail file to keep this sharp) or replace the heads regularly to keep it in optimum condition for picking up.
  5. Cure for manufacturers recommended time. For larger crystals cure for longer. Get your client to slowly move their hand from side to side while it’s curing under the lamp to allow the light to cure the gel in between the crystals. Make sure your client doesn’t tilt their hand too much to one side, so the gem doesn’t slide and cure in the wrong position. If using a thinner viscosity gel, you may need to apply one larger crystal at a time to prevent the gel and crystal running.
  6. If you want to seal the edges with a non-wipe top gel, this is your preference but not required. It is important to never put any gel or glue over the stone, because crystals get their brilliance from light reflecting off the facets, so regardless of attachment method, anything on top of the stone will dull the shine and lose its clarity.

Check back soon for more great tips and advice from Katie Barnes!

Rhinestone application