Hot Nails: Naomi Yasuda’s Glittery Watermelon Nails

Statement-making nails are one of the season's biggest trends, and Naomi Yasuda's fanciful creations have earned her a cult following at "Hello Beautiful" salon in Brooklyn.

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Catherine Blair Pfander / Thread NY
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Statement-making nails are one of the season's biggest trends, and lovers of over-the-top nail art need look no further than Brooklyn's "Hello Beautiful" salon, where resident artist Naomi Yasuda creates outrageous, cutting-edge designs for a roster of devoted clients. Nail treatments cost $50 on average, or up to $80 with hand-painted rhinestones as seen here.)
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Catherine Blair Pfander
We caught up with the designer last week as she prepared for a trip to Japan, seeing clients back-to-back from dawn until dusk. "I see Naomi every four weeks," says Nari Kim, a client of Yasuda's for the past two years. "But when I heard she was going out of town, I was like, 'What! Get me in there!'"
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Catherine Blair Pfander
On this particular afternoon, Nari went to her appointment imagining "simple." "I'm applying to jobs and I figured I should get something kind of plain and easy," she said. "Of course, that all went out the window." The agreed-upon concept: an end-of-summer 'watermelon nail,' complete with rhinestones and emerald glitter.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Yasuda went to beauty school in Japan before moving to the United States. "I was originally planning to do hair," she says. "But I was always really good at the nails. I had been painting my own since I was a little kid." Here, a customer's nails are buffed into long pointy shapes. "I'm really into sharp pointy nails this season."
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Catherine Blair Pfander
According to Yasuda, all of her customer's ask for gel polish creations "because they last so much longer." Here, she applies a pink gel polish base.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
"You would not believe the crazy things she comes up with," says Nari. "The most extreme manicure I got from her was for New Year's. It was different shades of silver on every nail with rhinestones and studs that spelled out 'New Year's!"
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Asked if the elaborate nail trend is bigger in Japan, Yasuda nods her head emphatically. "You have no idea," she says. "I really think the U.S. is so far behind. Nail art has been popular in Japan for ten years."
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Yasuda carefully applies black rhinestones -- meant to indicate watermelon seeds -- to Nari's thumbnail. The work looks difficult, but Yasuda finishes the task in a matter of seconds. "This is totally easy for her," says Nari. "Sometimes she'll make these custom decals with acrylic powder -- like tiny Hello Kittys or ice cream cones. THAT must take awhile."
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Catherine Blair Pfander
A view of Nari's near-complete watermelon manicure, with alternating pink and green glitter nails.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
The finished product and happy client. "So much for 'simple!''" laughs Kim.
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