Lava Lamp Nails Are A Perfect Throwback To The '90s

Feeling nostalgic for the '90s? There are plenty of fashion trends being revived right now to help you reminisce. Scrunchies, bucket hats, literally anything Rachel Green wore — all of these and more are back. But fashion isn't just getting its '90s inspiration from the era's popular apparel. A nail art trend that's popped up recently has come from one of its infamous interior design staples: lava lamps.

If you grew up before the aughts, you'd certainly remember the grip these trippy bedside fixtures had on everyone. No cool kid's room was complete without one, even if they didn't know then that lava lamps had been popular decades earlier. And now, tons of trendsetting fashion influencers are wearing them on their nails. Well, not actually. That would be impractical. But they are wearing the wavy, psychedelic patterns that these lamps make. We've gathered some examples for inspiration. From 3D to 2D, to sparkles and more — so much can be done with this swirly, retro set.

Intergalactic set

With her album "Future Nostalgia," Dua Lipa made space-themed aesthetics find a place on everyone's mood board. If you're looking for a nail set to match this vibe, these are definitely them. One of the mastermind nail artists that makes Dua Lipa's manicure dreams come true is Instagram user @ellavivii. With these chrome green lava lamp nails, she gave Dua Lipa the perfect intergalactic set. Mixing the retro with the modern, these nails fit perfectly into the category of "future nostalgia." And they look out of this world — cringey pun intended.

French drip

French manicures have been peaking in popularity over the past year. Matte French manicures and the "outline" French manicure are just two of the many ways this classic style has been given a modern twist. Lava lamp nails have added another flare to the French manicure. This post by @lakeoswegonails is a gorgeous example of the trend combination. They've painted on the classic lava lamp pattern. However, they limited it to just the tips of the nail, making it appear as though it's about to drip from the top of the nail into the bed of the nail.

Thermal vision

This set by @coconat.nails are emphasizing the primary colors in the best way possible. She's painted red and yellow on the innermost part of the abstract shapes and outlined their rims with a dash of green and a thick line of blue. These nails give the effect of thermal vision goggles. To make the nails even more detailed and unique, the base color is transparent with a thin layer of silver glitter. This background makes a defined contrast with the bright imprints of the lava lamp molten.

Blue lava

Did you know some volcanoes actually erupt blue lava? Not to get too nerdy, but according to ThoughtCo, the volcano Kawah Ijen and some of the lava in Yellowstone National Park are examples of this. Reacting with local minerals and chemicals, the land formations ooze a stunning electric blue lava. Whether these nails by @lenavitch.nailz were inspired by this phenomenon or not, they might as well have been. These cobalt blue lava lamp nails look just as hot as the real deal but without the burn.

For the minimalist

The lava lamp nails can be somewhat intense. Large, chaotic patterns sculpted in 3D definitely fall into the "maximalist" category when it comes to style. However, not all lava lamp nails look the same. Instagram user @hardasnails_studio posted this example of a more simplistic, yet lava-esque design. Thin 3D silver strands scatter across the natural colored nails as if shiny, molten rock has spread out on her acrylic set. The manicure still has the abstract look of lava lamp nails but with much less going on.

Groovy 2D

One way to do lava lamp nails is to create 3D globular patterns that stick out a quarter inch or so. However, this textured element isn't essential. If you do work involving your hands, it might also not be practical. However, you can still get the lava lamp effect without the thick layering. Instagram user @hardasnails_studio uses curvy paints stripes of blue, green, and yellow to still give the effect of that undulating lava lamp visual. 

Starburst pack

Since we're already on the nostalgia wagon with lava lamps, we might as well bring in another childhood favorite — Starbursts. The pack of pastel colored chewable candies was everyone's favorite cafeteria grab. And now that we're older, we don't know why we never looked at it as a color palette for our nail set. Instagram user @nevi.nailss displays a lava lamp nail set with a variety of pastels. The combination is uncannily similar to the colors in a Starburst pack. This is the perfect fun, bright lava lamp set for the spring or summer seasons.

Holiday themed

There are a lot of different directions you can go with lava lamp nails. While each manicure set uses similar oblong strokes, everything else is pretty much up to personal choice. So, when a holiday is coming up, you can create a style of lava lamp that matches it. Instagram user @ went all out for Valentine's Day with this set. Going for the full on, literal lava lamp look, she painted the top and bottom halves solid pink while designing intricate, heart shaped lava blobs in the midsection.

Complete lava lamp

Now you might have noticed most of these examples focus on the interior part of the lava lamp. However, if you really are from the '90s, you'll know that the lava lamp was this cylinder-shaped jar with thick opaque top and bottom halves. Instagram user @livgordon1 did not forget to leave this iconic part out. Making these coffin shaped nails really look the part, she lines the bottom and top halves with solid black polis. This gives the whole picture of the lava lamp.

Satin lava

This nail set adds an element of sophistication to the lava lamp trend we didn't know existed. Using the three dimensional lava-like mold, Instagram user @lenavitch.nailz primarily coated the nail in silver polish. However, the warm undertones that were added to the mix are what makes the look so unique. Infusing the metallic base with a champagne hue, the nails look enviably upscale. The way this set catches the light almost makes it appear like it's made of pearl.