Former Cheetah Girl and nail art lover Adrienne Bailon is the host of Oxygen network’s new reality show based on nail design competitions, Nail’d. After seeing a lot of crazy 3-D designs in the Sneak Peek Trailer, we were curious to find out what styles the celeb herself preferred. Nail It! magazine and a few other nailistas got the full scoop in this Q&A with the star.
Us: Do you prefer gawdy or classic nails for this fall?
Adrienne: I like a combination of both. I like to be classic and go with nude polish, especially for fall. I actually found out about a nail polish line that has a nude polish that works as a Foundation (Butter London), just like face color. I also really like cool metal embellishments on top, like jewelry on your nails.
If you could be a nail color, what would you be and what would your name be?
With my nail polish line, Fingertip Fetish, I actually have a collection called Made in NYC, which takes from all the vibrant colors of New York City. Out of that collection, I would be the fire-engine red shade called El Barrio, which refers to Spanish Harlem, where a lot of my family is from.
A lot of the look in the Sneak Peeks of Nail’d It are over the top and impractical for everyday wear. So what will the average viewer be taking away from the show?
Every episode actually has two different challenges. The first is called Quick Dry, which is more “Salon Style” – nails that can be worn everyday. They are working with real clients that actually would wear the nails. In the final elimination round, viewers get to see over the top fantasy-style nails, which I think are just insane and crazy. We’re talking about formal wedding bouquet nails sculpted out of acrylic! So the show gives you get the best of both worlds.
Are you rooting for any nail artists in particular on the show?
Of course, I have to be non-biased and let each contestant just come in and do their thing, but the cool part was that several people walked through the door and I was already familiar with their work from Instagram. Kandi [Banks] does Nicki Minaj’s nails; Classic [Mully] is renowned in the competition world.
You definitely are known for your nails; but are there any co-hosts on The Real whose manis you would upgrade if you could?
Jeannie and I actually love getting our nails done with like crazy embellishments on them. We just got Loni into nails – and I’d love to see something fun on her nails to match her personality! Don’t worry, we’re working on it! Tamar probably has the best nails on the show from a technical standpoint. Nail beds are super important, and the larger, the better! Tamar has the longest, healthiest, sickest nail beds I’ve seen in my life, so when her nails are cut all the way down, it still looks like she has long nails. She normally doesn’t do designs – she does a lot of red, nude, and clear.
Do you plan on expanding more on Fingertip Fetish?
We are actually going to be re-launching; I’m really excited. I’m hoping for a fall or holiday relaunch. All the polishes will be better than before and I think the great thing about my line is that it was really organic and grassroots; it was something that I created on my own. We were literally shipping from my parent’s house in Upstate New York. It was such a family project, and so it’s exciting that it’s coming back stronger and better than before.
When did you realize that nails were your thing?
I have always admired women who took really good care of themselves and loved women who talked with their hands. I think that being “well kept” is a very attractive quality in a woman, and nails really play into that. From five years old, I wanted to try red nail polish. I was totally into it.
The media says, “nail art is dying.” What are you thoughts on that?
I think it’s so not true. Nail polish has been in for years. It’s changing and it will always be changing, and I think that’s a positive thing. We’ve gone from over the top Harajuku nails to more subtle statement nails. My mom works at a hospital and one of the doctors had a jewel accent nail. It’s now really coming into corporate environment and it’s another way for women to express themselves.
What is the most interesting design you’ve seen so far?
Right now I’m obsessed with real gold leaf. I love the color gold and check to see if they have it every time I go to a nail salon. It’s actually pretty popular here in L.A.
Where do you see the future of nail artistry?
It’s already gone so far. There are also competitions all over the world, including Nail’d It that have crazy nail art. I think nail art is going to become more common, not just something we see on Lady Gaga.
When you’re getting your own nails done, how do you pick out your own color or design?
It takes me forever! I follow a lot of nail artists on Instagram, so when I go in to the salon, sometimes I’ll bring in a picture of exactly what I want. If I go in without a particular design in mind, it usually takes a while. I will take pictures of my nails, send them to my boyfriend, my girl friend, and have them vote on it. I figure since it will be on my nails for at least a week, it’s a big decision!
How do your nails impact your on-screen wardrobe on Nail’d It?
On every episode, I do have a different nail design that goes with every outfit. I absolutely loved the opportunity to get my nails done so often. On The Real, I get my nails done once a week. If I could, I would get my nails done differently every day for every single outfit!
You spend a lot of time in both New York and L.A.; do you see a huge difference in trends between West Coast and East Coast?
Absolutely! In L.A., people are willing to take risks and are often pursing artistic careers and want to show off their artistic side. In New York City, I find that people can be a little more laid back and use darker colors. A lot of New Yorkers gravitate towards a dark burgundy or a dark gray, and I love that! But of course, it depends on the person. My mom loves bright colors and has absolutely no problem rocking blue nails.
What is your favorite nail trend right now?
Negative space! I love having a design with a “window” that lets the natural nail show through.
What nail trend are you over?
Super pointy stilettos. The “softer” almond shape is taking over!
Did the competitors on Nail’d It know each other ahead of the show and did that bring out any extra drama?
Many of them did, and that definitely made the show more entertaining. They knew each other’s work and each other’s strengths and that made it more thrilling to watch them interact. The good thing about nail artists is that they are often very gracious, so they were always rooting for the best artist to win. At the same time, the claws were out!
Do you have any nail horror stories?
I have very short hands and short fingers – so I am always looking for ways to elongate my nails. The worst thing that happened was one time when I got a French manicure and the white strip was so thick that my nails just looked stubby!
Were there any nails that your boyfriend wasn’t so fond of?
When we were doing Nail’d It, we put spikes on my nails for one episode. I had to be careful when I slept, because when I moved, I could accidentally cut myself. He wasn’t so into that or the prospect of getting injured just being around me. But it looked super hot!?
What is it like working with Jan and Terrance and what have they taught you?
I used to have a complex about my short nails – and Jan let me know that all I needed to do was pick the right shape. Currently, I’m rocking an almond shape, and I’ve also learned that a nude color elongates your nails.
What is your favorite salon in New York and in L.A.?
In New York, it’s Studio L. They have no limits on nail art – and do Japanese nail art. In L.A., my top place is Enamel Diction. Not only do they do incredible nail designs, but they have packages you can buy where you can buy a package for a month and come in and get as many designs done as you want.
What does it takes out to stand out as a nail artist, and possibly qualify for next year’s season of Nail’d It?
You have to be really creative and also have great technique. You need to be able to both do designs well and manicure nails well.
How has the transition been from music to The Real to Nail’d It?
It was an easy transition – I just had to be myself. I can’t believe that this is my job: just being myself and hanging out with my girl friends!
Who is your Latina fashion icon?
Jennifer Lopez is my ideal – as well as Selena. I loved Selena’s long red nails from back in the day. She used to also have very rounded square nails and nude colors, like Ballet Slippers and Marshmallow from Essie, which I loved.
Do you have any tips for people who like to switch their manicures a lot and have weak, brittle nails?
I’ve worn acrylic nails since I was about thirteen, and then when I joined Cheetah Girls, there just wasn’t time for the same upkeep. I would have to give myself a manicure on the bus during the tour. To keep my nails healthy, I would use a product called Nail Tek, which you can get at drugstores. One tip: keep your nails done for an entire week without messing with them to give them at least a seven day break between manicures.
What are good business tips for an up-an-coming nail artist?
I think the most important thing is to just put yourself out there on social media. When the techs came on the show, one of the biggest ways I knew them was through Instagram!
Catch the first episode of Nail’d It October 7th at 9pm!
[Image: Oxygen Network; interview has been edited for length, grammar, and clarity]