The “Boring Manicure” Caps Off 2022, the Year of The “Non-Trend”

Boring manicure trend

“Boring nail girl” currently clocking 3.6 million views on TikTok (with defiant captions like “French Ombre IS branching out for me) the boring manicure is staking its claim as the biggest “sum of its subdued parts” trend of 2022.

Previously reserved for bridal Pinterest boards, 2022 was the year the basic bitch mani got a rebrand. Sheer pearly pink polish became “the glazed donut manicure,” the glossy beige ‘the supermodel nail” and the translucent pink or white gel “the milk bath nail”.

Thousands of OPI sales later, and we have the “boring manicure”.

Why the Boring Manicure?

Hailey Bieber at the Met with her viral glazed doughnut manicure
Image credit: @nailsbyzola

Victoria Houllis, nail-tech and founder of destination studio Mannequin Hands, says everything about the boring manicure makes sense. “It hits the sweet spot in terms of where we’re at as a society, from the economy to the way social media is moving,” she tells POPSUGAR Australia. “Coming out of COVID and into a recession, opportunities to travel are on the cards, we need to save, we want to go out, and at the same time the cost of living is skyrocketing.” In this context, nail trends that can be replicated with a few bottles of nude polish at home, or at a walk-in shopping centre salons, are appealing.

But, the trend is also attributable to TikTok’s ability to create “things” out of “non-things”. Houllis, who forecasts and recreates viral nail trends as part of her business, says TikTok has changed the “what and how” of beauty trends. Now, beauty doesn’t necessarily need to be innovative to go viral.

“The ability to name something gives it so much more weight,” she says. “Things get names they never had before — you wouldn’t ever have called a beige manicure a ‘Supermodel Manicure’ or a pearly pink manicure with some chrome a ‘Hailey Bieber’. These names give a lot of power to very simple things that have been repackaged and remarketed.”

@oldloserinbrooklyn This headline made my blood boil lol this trope is just tired! #haileybieber #beautytrends #beauty ♬ Blue Blood – Heinz Kiessling & Various Artists

Mandy Lee — aka Old Loser in Brooklyn on TikTok, a trend forecaster best known for predicting the Indie Sleaze resurgence back in October of 2021 — is over it. After seeing Hailey Bieber’s “Blackout” nails (black nail polish) shilled as a blockbuster trend for winter, she’d had enough.

“Black nail polish is going to be popular this winter because it’s black nail polish, it’s a seasonal trend that happens every. Single. Year,” she spat. Her issue with the It-Girl dependant trend cycle — in which anything worn by one of three appointed women is deemed “trending” and “new” — is that trends lose their “cultural context”. This is where we see “glazed donut lips” popping off, then receiving backlash when it’s noted that brown lip liner and gloss have used by BIPOC women for decades.

“If your only reference is through the lens of three “It” girls, you’re missing out,” she says. “One day Hailey Bieber will shit her pants and the headline will read ‘How To Shit Your Pants Like An It Girl’.”

The Boring Manicure and the Perfect It Girl

Some would argue the real trend of 2022 was boring, wealthy women.

At one point, TikTok’s “Old Money Aesthetic” trend seemed like a problematic flash in the pan. Described by The Cut as minimalist fashion, the trend was all about women with blonde hair, generational wealth and legacy background — think Princess Diana, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy — and was undoubtedly influenced by HBO’s Murdoch-inspired smash hit, Succession. The show’s “boring”, label-free, four-figure wardrobes have spawned hundreds of articles and several social media accounts dedicated to tracking items down and gleefully listing their eye-watering price tags. But the Old Money Aesthetic was a sign of what was to come, and is perhaps the most accurate representation of how we’ve selected our beauty influencers in 2022.

While aesthetics like “That Girl” and the “Boring Manicure” were never explicitly linked to the Old Money Aesthetic trend, they still have everything to do with race, class and 2022’s complicated preoccupation with wealth. The Boring Manicure could be more realistically titled “The Old Money Manicure”.

Think of the “Supermodel Manicure”, first coined by Nicola Peltz Beckham’s manicurist Tom Bachik, who “created” the nail for her wedding day. She’s modelled the look on his Instagram account several times since, complementing the manicure with her $2 million dollar engagement ring.

The nail is long and oval, glossy and nude. He compared it to Christy Turlington’s 90s manicures and we’ll take his word for it, but we’re too busy looking at the ring.

Boring Manicure Trend: Supermodel Nails on Nicola Peltz Beckham
Image credit: @tombachik

The most explosive boring nail trend of course, was Hailey Bieber’s glazed donut moment. In a viral iPhone photo that will surely one day end up in the Smithsonian Institute’s National Portrait Gallery, Hailey Bieber looks over her shoulder at the 2022 Met Gala. Overhead lights bounce off her glossy, private-facials-with-Dr-Barbara-Sturm complexion, her massive Tiffany & Co diamond earrings sparkling as she stands in her silky, subdued Ralph Lauren gown, her dewy, opalescent, pearly pink talons raised gently towards one flawless cheekbone.

It was like Bieber’s nail tech, Zola Ganzorigt, had encapsulated Bieber as a cultural phenomenon in a nail — a woman at first glance so perfect as to be unremarkable, and at second, third and fourth glance, strangely mesmerising.

2022’s “It Girls” have all of the boring, WASPY perfection of Truman Capote’s “Swans”. These were the OG It-Girls, the disenchanted younger Kennedys like Lee Radziwill, or the daughters and third wives of oil barons. Bieber, Peltz-Beckham, Kendall Jenner and the like recall Capote’s description of friend Babe Pailey: “She had only one flaw. She was perfect, otherwise she was perfect.”

Are “Boring” Beauty Trends Problematic?

When we’re broker than ever, there’s something comforting about achievable trends associated with massively wealthy people, whether it be vintage Abercrombie and Fitch, OPI “Bubble Bath” that you can pick up at the chemist, sheer lipglosses, translucent foundations or slicked back hair. The issue with these trends — setting aside their whiteness, skinniness and veneration of wealth — is that they’re encouraging us to buy and spend more than ever.

Houllis sums it up. “If you look at lipstick sales, they never dipped in World War II, people will still spend on beauty even if money is tight… it makes people feel good to have those small luxuries.” Now, our small and practical luxuries make us feel even better, because as well as being on trend, they’re associated with the wealthy and glamorous. Even I bought about five different nail polishes attempting to recreate the glazed donut mani at home (with questionable success).

In some ways, it’s hard not to look at these “achievable” repackaged trends as a “let them eat cake” moment in beauty. With all the economic and environmental data suggesting we should be counting our pennies and consuming less, it’s important to recognise that TikTok, while chaotic fun, is a marketing machine that makes us want things, even when they’re things we already have.

The one minimalist trend that has caught our attention, though? The short nail. All you need is a pair of clippers and a clear nail polish, and we’re waiting for them to go viral any minute now.

Related Posts
Latest Beauty
The End.

The next story, coming up!