The Accent Nail Trend That K-Beauty Experts Say Is Here To Stay

Getting a manicure doesn't have to mean painting the same color of polish on all your fingernails anymore. Nail art is all the rage in 2021, and the sky's the limit when it comes to this hot nail trend. What is nail art? The trend is open to interpretation (via Glamour). It can mean painting graphic line work or cartoon characters directly on your nails. You could also take a more three-dimensional approach by having a nail artist apply gemstones and glitter to your perfectly polished fingers.

Looking at some of the fabulously extravagant examples compiled on Pinterest, it may seem like the trend is not for the faint of heart. However, you can still partake in nail art and subscribe to the belief that less is more. If you're looking for a way to ease into the popular art form, nail artists like Jin Soon Choi might recommend trying out another mega-popular nail trend: the accent nail.

Choi told Byrdie that accent nails are one of the most popular Korean nail trends. What is an accent finger? Think of it as a way to make one nail (oftentimes one on each hand) stand out from the others. That can mean it's painted a different color, has a different finish, or features a fun drawing or other sort of creative design technique. Basically, it is the perfect way to dip your fingers into the nail art trend without biting off more than you can chew.

Accent nails have been around for a while

The accent nail trend isn't exactly new on the scene. According to Racked, it exploded into popularity in the '00s. The publication surveyed several nail artists who listed a variety of reasons for the takeover. Sophy "So So Fly" Robson referred to the trend as a way for customers to "break into nail art," which can get expensive. 

Ayla "B R A S S" Montgomery explained that nail art is often priced by the finger with customers paying as much as $10 per nail. "A lot of times people can't afford a whole full set of nails. That's how they end up with the accent nail — purely for economic reasons," she said. 

The nail artist also referred to the trend as an entry point to nail art in a different way. "I think accent nails originated from people who were kind of afraid of nail art, so usually it's like a gateway," Montgomery explained. "Start with one nail and you work your way to a full set of nail art."

Customers may select an accent nail for other reasons, too. While any finger can serve as the accent, the ring finger is a popular choice (via L'OREAL Paris). Weddingbells noted that this makes it the perfect trend for the recently engaged. "It's actually the chicest new way to play up your ring finger," the publication gushed.

Glitter and cartoon art are popular accent nail choices

If you want to try out the accent nail trend, there are a couple things to think about before booking your next salon appointment. The most important question is what will go on your special nail. You could use the opportunity to try out this '70s-inspired design or consider other popular nail art styles that are on your radar.

If you're struggling to come up with ideas, Jin Soon Choi noted that "accent nails usually incorporate glitter, crystals, or jewelry into the overall look ... There's usually one add-on per hand that includes an extra detail or two, like the glitter mentioned earlier, or fun cartoon art," per Byrdie

Another question will be if you need to go to a salon to pull this off. Keep in mind that you can achieve the accent nail look from the comfort of your home. If the goal is to get perfect nails without paying a salon's price, Choi mentioned the popularity of gel stickers and other sorts of press-on nails. 

Most importantly, remember that rules aren't hard and fast when it comes to nail art. Although the trend is referred to as an accent nail (as in a singular nail), plenty of examples in this post from Byrdie actually feature multiple accent nails on each hand. Glamour also mentioned the potential for what they dubbed double accent nails. 

Because when the nails are that much fun, why stop at just one?