Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez, and Sydney Sweeney Love This Milky Manicure Trend

These days, there are two main drivers of beauty trends.:The first is TikTok, which dictates what's cool in more ways than one—whether that's the best blush formulas, the most effective color correctors, or the easiest damage-free hairstyles. The second is celebrities; most recently, Hailey Bieber's "glazed donut" nails were all the rage. When the two converge and mutually agree that a specific look is trendy, that means it's here to stay. 

The latest trend to get both a TikTok and a celeb seal of approval is something called milk bath nails. Not only does the hashtag have millions of views on social media, but celebrities like Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez, and Sydney Sweeney have been spotted with the look. So while they're certainly trending right now, Celebrity Nail Artist Elle Gerstein is quick to remind us that they've been around for a long time. "Instead of a trend, for a manicurist or a nail tech, milk bath is a technique," she says. "It’s like chroming. Everyone called it the glazed donut nail because Hailey Bieber wore it, but we’ve been doing it forever." Keep scrolling to see what milk bath nails look like and learn how to re-create them at home with some help from experts. (Hint: it's way easier than you might think.)

What Are Milk Bath Nails? 


(Image credit: @enamelle)

So what is this technique? According to San Sung Kim, a Nailing Hollywood Artist, "Milk bath nails are designs that have a sheer white or creamy layer underneath or over a specific design element. They are often paired with a floral element resembling a tub full of vibrant flowers in a milky bath. Milk bath nails are trendy right now because they lean into the 'clean girl' aesthetics due to their subtle yet effortless and feminine vibe."

Anastasia Totty, Nail Artist, and LeChat Nails educator, agrees, saying, "It's very popular because it’s a fun twist on a classic off-white manicure."

Here's the thing though. Milk bath nails don't have to be white or off-white. Modern milk bath manicures can be any color you like. As Gerstein puts it, "All milk bath means is that it’s showing through but it’s making it milky looking. Some of the new ones are these marble designs. I’d consider those to be milk bath nails too but they look more like stone." 

How Are Milk Bath Nails Created in a Salon Setting?


(Image credit: @enamelle)

Gerstein says the milk bath technique is flexible, meaning there are multiple ways you can use it to get the same result. "It’s just layering and using the same color to sheer and blur out a design," she says. "You can do it with gel, with nail polish, with acrylic. You can actually encase flowers in the acrylic, which is the original milk bath nail, but there are 100 ways to do it." 

Each nail artist might have a slightly different take on the technique. For Totty, it's all about using acrylic powder. "In the salon when I do it it’s usually encapsulated multicolor dry flowers and leaves with a mix of white and clear acrylic powder," she says. "Once you file and shape the nails you can see some parts of the flowers show on the surface, when you apply topcoat it almost looks like the flowers are sinking in the 'milk bath.'"

Can Milk Bath Nails Be Re-Created at Home?


(Image credit: @nailartbyqueenie)

The short answer is yes, yes they can. Morgan Dixon, Nailing Hollywood Artist and owner of Lab & Lounge: A Concept Salon in New Orleans, explains how she would recommend doing it. "You just need an off-white polish, a topcoat (to mix into the off-white polish so that it’s slightly transparent), and dried floral petals," she says. "You start by prepping and manicuring your nail. From there, I like to break up my floral petals because it’s best to work with small pieces. From there, apply your base coat and let it dry. After that, you create a marbled effect by applying the diluted topcoat and off-white polish mixture around the nail." The trick here is to not fully cover the nail, but apply just enough to give it a marbled look. 

From there, let it dry, then apply a few pieces of floral around the nails. "Don’t overthink it—just randomly place them. Go back over with another layer of the marbled off-white mixture to give it dimension. Look over them and see if they could use any other layering. If not, topcoat and that’s it!" 

Gerstein, on the other hand, recommends a slightly different technique. Start with applying one or two coats of sheer nail color. Then, create a design—whether that's a floral design using real petals, a stamp applicator, or peel-and-stick nail stickers—and apply another layer of the same sheer nail color over top to blur it out. "That’s the do-it-yourself version," she says. "It’s basically a technique of layering where you sandwich a design in a color." 

If you do decide to use real flower petals, Kim has a tip to make things easier for first-timers. "When using dried flowers at home, a good tip is to pre-soak them in either water or a clear polish so that they are malleable enough to sit flat on the nails," she says. 

Shop At-Home Essentials for Milk Bath Nails

Next: L.A., London, Seoul, Tokyo: 12 International Nail Trends to Have on Your Radar

Kaitlyn McLintock
Associate Beauty Editor

Kaitlyn McLintock is an Associate Beauty Editor at Who What Wear. Although she covers a wide range of topics across a variety of categories, she specializes in celebrity interviews and skincare and wellness content. Having lived in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, she recently relocated back to her home state of Michigan where she works remotely. Prior to Who What Wear, she freelanced for a variety of industry-leading digital publications, including InStyle, The Zoe Report, Bustle, Hello Giggles, and Coveteur. Before that, she held a long-term internship and subsequent contributor position at Byrdie. When she's not writing, researching, or testing the latest and greatest beauty products, she's working her way through an ever-growing book collection, swimming in the Great Lakes, or spending time with family.