From statement nail art to simple manicures, polished nails are the cherry on top of celebrities’ standout style. The manicurists behind these creative tips have amassed impressive followings of their own, such as celebrity nail artist Chaun Legend, who has 1.3 million followers on Instagram and works with A-listers like Kylie Jenner, Zendaya and Cardi B.
These talented artists have mastered the manicure, finding the best nail polishes, cuticle care products, hand creams and more — because a great set doesn’t stop at the nail bed.
Read on as we uncover the key essentials in the kits of five of the world’s top nail artists, who have clients that include Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Adele, Zendaya, Kate Hudson, Jessica Biel and Kristen Stewart. (Bonus: 10 are under $30.)
Lottie London x Chaun Legend Stay Press’d Press-on Nails
“I always have Lottie London x Chaun Legend Stay Press’d press-on nail sets in my bag or in my kit,” says Legend. “They are perfect for when you need to pop on a quick manicure and are on the go.”
“Krazy Glue is a necessity when on set or with a client,” the nail artist shares. The multipurpose adhesive is a secret savior for repairing nails. “There is always an accident with nails breaking, so it’s a must!”
Essie Gel Couture in Of Corset
For those who love a clean and simple manicure, this pale pink shade is a universal must-have. “Of Corset by Essie is one of my favorite nude colors that works with all different types of skin tones,” says Qin, who works with Beyoncé, Naomie Harris and model Ashley Graham. “I carry it with me to every job. The color is so smooth and even.”
The GelBottle Inc Oil
“A perfectly polished nail never looks good with dry, torn cuticles. Skin care is essential,” says Kyees, who counts Rihanna, Adele, Katy Perry and Issa Rae as clients. The manicurist reaches for this oil to keep nails and cuticles moisturized. “This oil helps condition the nail itself to protect against brittleness and breakage. Hydrate!”
Tammy Taylor Natural Nail Shaper File
“Using a less coarse file, such as the Tammy Taylor Natural Nail Shaper File, is key to protecting the integrity of the natural nail,” Kyees says. “It prevents damage that can be caused when the grit is too coarse.”
Kiara Sky Heel-ing Callus Remover Kit
“Kiara Sky’s Heel-ing Callus Remover Kit is the answer to avoiding unsightly heels,” the nail artist shares. “The callus remover solution softens and dissolves callus areas in minutes.” Kyees recommends following the callus remover treatment with the Exfoliating Pumice Stones ($2.99 at Kiara Sky) to remove dry skin. “The results are incredible. Happy feet for all!”
Ashlie Johnson Dark Rose Body Scrub
“My first must-have item is my Dark Rose Body Scrub, a unique blend of pink Himalayan sea salt (for its high trace mineral content), sugar (to balance the salt), organic almond oil (high in vitamins A and E), organic rose hip (for vitamin C and collagen stimulation) and more!” says Johnson, touting the product she developed for clients Kristen Stewart, Kate Hudson and Jessica Biel. “Exfoliation and moisture are the most important parts of a mani-pedi to me. If you don’t have time to get to a salon or polish your nails, simply exfoliating and moisturizing can be a total game changer.”
To combat dry hands, Johnson loves this hand cream from Dr. Barbara Sturm “for extra hydration and to seal in the oils from the scrub.”
Chanel La Base Protecting and Smoothing
This peptide and ceramide-infused polish is Johnson’s preferred base coat. It conditions and smooths the nails for a longer-lasting manicure.
Give any manicure a gel-like finish with this long-lasting top coat. “It dries quickly and provides an unmatchable shine,” Johnson says.
Byredo Rinse Free Hand Wash
“Since I’m touching people’s hands all the time, I am constantly using hand sanitizer to make sure I’m not spreading germs,” says Boyce, who works with Machine Gun Kelly, Megan Fox, Travis Barker and Kehlani. “The Rinse Free Hand Washes by Byredo are so luxurious to the touch and sanitize without drying out my hands. Plus, the fragrance is incredible. I love burning Byredo scents when I’m home, so the hand sanitizer puts me in a great mood no matter how stressful my day is.”
Nails of LA Sara Tan Press-On Extensions
“I don’t always have time to do my own nails, but as a nail artist I want to show up on sets with really cool nails,” Boyce shares. “Press-ons are my time-savers for those weeks where I’m working 12- to 14-hour days and barely have time to do anything else. The collaborative Sara Tan design are a personal favorite, and a portion of the proceeds benefit Teach AAPI.”
Orly GelFX Builder in a Bottle
For those who are more advanced in their at-home nail art ability and have experience with setting nails with a LED/UV lamp, Boyce swears by this product for quick extensions. “I’m known for my work with gel extensions and have used the Orly Builder in a Bottle since it launched,” Boyce says. “Building gel extensions takes a lot of time, and I don’t always have that luxury. These ones are faster and easier to use than other extensions. They don’t smell, and I can create all types of nail looks like the glass French tip. I also use Builder for a lot of 3D nail looks.”
Doublemoss Primero Brush Set
A luxe addition to a nail kit, these solid brass brushes are perfect for detailed nail art. “Designed by Betina Goldstein, an incredibly talented and nice nail artist, these are pricier than basic nail brushes, but so worth it,” Boyce shares. “The handle and design are so sleek. Weighted just right, it’s comfortable to use and the brushes are very precise.”
KPAway Keratosis Pilaris Lipid Repair Emollient
“Hand creams can either absorb too quickly but not hydrate, or be really rich and take forever to absorb,” Boyce notes. “This cream isn’t specifically a hand cream, but the texture is just right. It absorbs quickly, keeps the skin really well moisturized and it’s also fragrance-free.” Because it was made for super-sensitive skin, the nail artist feels confident using it on all of her clients and doesn’t have to worry about irritating ingredients. She also loves it for her own skin care routine: “When I have very long workdays, my skin tends to dry out and I use this all over my face and body, knowing it won’t irritate it either.”