I Tried The Vintage ‘Half Moon’ Manicure & It’s So Chic

Half Moon Nails

The release of Taylor Swift’s “Midnight” album sparked a few different nail art trends. The first and most apparent is Swift’s dark blue nails embellished with silver stars – a very spot-on interpretation of midnight. The second, however, is more understated: the red half-moon manicure seen in her “Pearl” music video.
The half-moon is not a new nail design but a vintage technique that seems to be tracking a comeback. According to recent search trends, half-moon nail art has seen steady growth throughout the fall and peaked in October, which may be partially attributed to Swift. As a fan of red nail polish and minimalist nail art, I was eager to try a red half-moon manicure.

What is a half-moon manicure?

Here’s a little anatomical fact: When you look at your bare nail, in the nail bed, underneath the cuticle, there is a little white area in the shape of a crescent, which is called a lunula. This means “little moon” in Latin. The “half-moon” manicure emphasizes the crescent shape. The entire nail is painted, but the crescent-shaped part is left unpainted, creating a very subtle negative space.

According to beauty expert Cat Quinn, the design is reminiscent of the Golden Age of Hollywood, specifically the 1950s. Quinn predicts that half-moon manicures will be back in vogue this year because many movies are set in the 1950s. Quinn cites “Don’t Worry, Darling,” in which Olivia Wilde’s character wears a red half-moon manicure. The same design is also a trademark of Dita Von Teese, the cabaret performer who appeared in both “Don’t Worry, Darling” and Swift’s “Bejeweled” music videos. The half-moon has also experienced other trend spikes in recent years. For example, an in-depth investigation on Pinterest revealed photos of Rihanna wearing a red half-moon manicure in 2013.

Half Moon Nails
The release of Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ album sparked a few different nail-art trends. The first and most obvious is Swift’s navy nails embellished with silver stars — a very on-the-nose interpretation of midnight. The second, though, was a little more low-key: her red half-moon manicure as seen in the ‘Bejeweled‘ music video.
The half-moon is not a new nail design, but actually a vintage technique that seems to be tracking a bit of a comeback. According to recent search trends, the half-moon manicure has seen steady increase through fall with a spike in October, which may be partially to Swift’s credit. As a fan of both red nail polish and minimalist nail art, I was eager to try the red half-moon manicure myself.

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What is a half-moon manicure?

Here’s a little anatomy factoid for you: when you look at your bare nail, at the nail bed, down by cuticle, there’s a teeny crescent-shaped whiteish area, and it’s called the lunula. This means ‘little moon’ in Latin. The ‘half-moon’ manicure simply accents the lunula. The entire nail gets painted, but the lunula crescent is left bare, creating a very-subtle negative space.
According to beauty expert Cat Quinn, the design harkens back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, specifically the 1950s. Quinn predicted that the half-moon manicure would see a resurgence this year, in large part due to the many films set in the ’50s. Quinn cites Don’t Worry, Darling, where Olivia Wilde’s character wears a red half-moon manicure. The same design is also signature to Dita Von Teese, the burlesque icon who makes cameos in both Don’t Worry, Darling and Swift’s ‘Bejeweled’ music video. Through recent years, the half moon has experienced other trend spikes. A Pinterest deep-dive brought to light a photo of Rihanna wearing red half-moon nail art back in 2013, for example.
How do you get a half-moon manicure?
The half-moon manicure is easy to try at home (see R29’s old tutorial here). However, I had to get rid of my “glass” manicure, so I went to Glosslab Salon in NYC to remove the gel and reapplied the Half Moon Art polish. Two birds with one stone.
The manicurist shaped my nails (which had grown out a bit due to the gel) into a round shape. For the color, she used a red polish. CND Vinylux in Hollywood #119. she used a small streak brush, dipped in red polish, to trace the arch of my crescent. She then used a larger polish brush to fill in the space above the lines. She was again, leaving only the tiny crescent shape. After all ten nails were painted, she gave me a top coat, and then I sat under the dryer for ten minutes.

How much does a half-moon manicure cost?

Cost will depend on a few factors, like where you live, what your salon charges for a manicure and whether you opt for gel or regular polish. For my half-moon manicure, the salon charged me for a regular manicure with a ‘basic’ nail art design; it comes out to the same price as a French manicure. The total: $49 before the gel removal or gratuity.

Can I get a half-moon manicure at home?

My Glosslab manicurist made this look easy, probably easier than French. Once you have the demarcation lines, you need to fill in the color, so there’s not as much precise painting. I could probably try a half-moon manicure at home; I need one of those little peel-off brushes. I would use it to trace the crescent line and then paint the rest of the nails as usual. Of course, another easy at-home option is a press-on manicure. Chill has a red half-moon design. You can also switch colors and use white, gold, pink, or navy. Although, as you may know, the internet is very much into red nails.

 

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