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How to Use Eye Shadow to Make Your Own Metallic Nail Art — Expert Tips

When Lucy Boynton walked the red carpet at the 2020 Golden Globes, most people were breath taken by her extremely shiny silver dress or her bold, jewel-encrusted makeup — but my eyes immediately drifted toward her hands, tossed over Rami Malek’s shoulders. Her metallic gunmetal manicure had me racing to my giant stash of nail polish in the hopes I had something similar. But I had no luck, not even within the five or so silver shades that I own. I even looked at metallic nail polish swatches online to find a match, but none had quite the same velvety finish as Boynton’s Pure Black Chanel nail polish.

I later learned why from a press release detailing the actress’s look. Her manicurist, Mel Shengaris, used the glossy black shade on Boynton but topped it off in the last way I’d expect — with a sparkly pewter-colored eye shadow. I would have sooner assumed the unique color was the work of a fancy nail powder that only professionals had access to, but little did I know, I owned all the necessary products to pull the look off at home the entire time.

The only letdown was that the Chanel polish (Le Vernis in Pure Black) and eye shadow (Ombre Première Top Coat in Penombre) Shengaris used for that look are both discontinued. Still, after learning that little nail secret, I had to try it for myself. Turns out, it’s one of the easiest, prettiest, and cheapest nail-art tricks ever. According to tips from Shengaris herself, if you own basically any nail polish and any metallic eye shadow — and I know you have multiple — you can use this trick.

This navy-blue Deborah Lippmann shade (Gel Lab Pro Nail Polish in Fight the Power, $20) gets galactic when layered with a holographic Surratt eye shadow (Halogram Cream Eye Shadow in Nebula, $30).

Nicola Dall’Asen/Allure

Surprisingly, this was the first time Shengaris tried this technique for a red-carpet look. The move was a spur-of-the-moment choice inspired by Boynton’s gown.

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“We wanted a metallic look to go with Lucy’s outfit, but we wanted the nails to be more subtle — more of a hint of shimmer,” Shengaris recalls. “In the moment, especially getting ready for award [shows], you have to be ready to improvise, so I thought to use a little swipe of eye shadow to give it the subtle look we wanted.”

To do that, Shengaris used a small metal spatula to scrape the eye shadow into dust before using her fingers to gently rub it on top of the “almost dried, slightly tacky” polish. I personally have used cotton swabs and spongy eye shadow applicators instead of fingers just to make things a little less messy. Both deliver similar results.

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