Trends move fast in the 21st century, and let me tell you, 2023 is looking as though it’ll be no different. Wave goodbye to mermaid sleaze and balletcore, and sashay your way into the ethereal—where the stars align and there’s always enough glitter to go around.
This year, expect the gen Z style to move away from its earthy, mystic routes as we begin our ascent to fully embracing this space-trotting aesthetic.
Embodying a celestial vibe originally took you down only one pathway, a route supported by a love for star-gazing and the zodiac—as well as a premium subscription to Cafe Astrology. All of these subculture elements helped to initially construct the early celestial look, one that was interlinked with the Stevie Nicks-inspired whimsigothic. But things have already changed since then, with celestial fashion taking things up a notch.
As a whole, it lets you embrace floral, and almost witchy patterns that are adorned with stars and references to the zodiac. Think long skirts paired with custom-patterned corsets or shawls. Star prints are rife too. These girlies are sure to have a deck of tarot cards tucked into their purse—and they’re not afraid to use them.
When rapper Princess Nokia announced on 9 January 2023 that she is embracing clairvoyance and plans to do astrological readings this year, gen Zers couldn’t have been more excited, which is evidence alone that those invested in the celestial zodiac subculture are here to stay.
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Things are starting to look even more sci-fi as the style begins to soar into the new year. Celebs, make-up artists and fashion lovers are all embracing the more retrofuturist and ethereal alien look that can be embodied within celestialness too.
Picture a very easy-going alien who’s crash-landed on Earth, lazily getting through their days, remnants of stardust still painting their face with illumination. The celestial aesthetic is truly unhinged and is perfect for anyone wanting to experiment with fashion or beauty.
A lot of the new wave celestial looks take pages directly from Elon Musk’s ex and twee-alien-queen Grimes’ nostlagic futurism-inspired book. The singer has been known to adorn herself with alien-inspired makeup and Space Age garms, with a blend of mediaeval thrown in for good measure.
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Everyone’s favourite second-hand vintage marketplace, Depop, is here to back this claim up, having forecasted a rise in chainmail, feathery trims, and cut-out bodysuits (as well as a continued trajectory for zodiac motifs) evidenced by search traffic on its app.
Emboldened by looks from pop superstar Dua Lipa, it’s clear the style is gaining cosmic speed. Lipa rang in the new year in a glamorously shiny cut-out dress with matching star earrings from celebrities’ favourite, Ludovic de Saint Sernin.
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To top it all off, we saw some wonderful adaptations of the style and aesthetic in Valentino’s Spring 2023 runway from last year that gave us a stunning future-facing Dune vibe.
Speaking of, 2023 will also bring us the highly anticipated Dune sequel as well as the return of sci-fi glam icon Barbarella to the big screen, who will be played by none other than Euphoria stand-out, Sydney Sweeney. In other words, expect the celestial to begin oozing from people’s wardrobes once these flicks show up in cinemas.
The aforementioned aesthetic has also been making waves in the beauty world, with legendary make-up artist Pat McGrath stunning audiences at the Andreādamo Spring 2023 show with faces covered in futuristic fallout.
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Within the beauty industry, the trend seems to manifest itself through the messy and unrestrained use of powdery glitter and shimmer both around and under the eye. The technique results in a dazzling starscape adorning your face, one that is well suited to whatever celestialness you hope to achieve.
So, as we go deeper into 2023, expect the aesthetic to be launched to new galactic heights—having grown from its roots in the star-gazing and fully embracing the star-roaming.
In an era of red, pink, beige, and green flags, conversations surrounding one’s personal energy are more relevant than ever before. While ‘good vibes only!’ is just a phrase to some, for others, it’s an entire life mantra based on the energy they radiate. And this is exactly where the concept of an ‘aura’ makes its magical debut.
To date, people have aligned their wardrobes and home decor with the aura they emit. The summer of 2022, however, is all about channelling them right onto your fingertips. Meet aura nails, the manicure trend that is increasingly gripping and dipping Instagram’s Explore and TikTok’s For You Pages into airbrushed colours that resonate with one’s soul.
But before we dive deeper into the trend, let’s breeze through some of the basic concepts when it comes to analysing one’s personal aura.
Often used interchangeably with ‘vibes’, an aura is an electromagnetic field that all human beings radiate. It’s believed to be a luminous body that surrounds your physical one—with each layer, and any problems within them, engulfing your frame in a net of energy with their responding colours. These hues and shades shift in response to your emotions, mental patterns, physical energy, and a variety of other factors to represent your current state of being.
Now, there are a few ways in which you can ‘see’ your aura. The most common practice is to get your aura photographed. Also known as Kirlian photography, this practice is believed to capture one’s electrical emanations as an egg-shaped circle around their physical body. However, if you don’t have access to special equipment, don’t worry just yet. Another way to sense your aura is by softening and slightly squinting your eyes while looking at yourself in a mirror.
While this may take some practice, several experts believe the best way to spot your energy is with your peripheral vision. Simply put, if you focus on your aura too much in the mirror, chances are that you won’t be able to see it. But if you look away, you may notice colours or light slowly arise from around your body.
Let’s say you’ve successfully managed to capture your aura and you’ve just witnessed a bunch of colours magically pop up around you. Now what? Well, for starters, know that each layer of your aura is said to be represented by a different colour. Some also believe that the way these colours vary and interact with each other illustrates how emotionally, spiritually, and physically complex you are.
For example, some layers may appear brighter if you’re more vibrant or emit greater energy, while others may be dull if you’re mentally stressed or physically ill. It’s worth noting that your aura is also bound to change over time, so the colours you see today may not always be the same.
That being said, here’s a mini guide on various aura hues and what they mean:
Now let’s enter the gorgeously-faded arena in question. Aura nails, as a manicure trend, are all about vibing with energy fields. Just like no two auras are the same, each aura manicure is customised to the wearer—majorly featuring a gradient look with most of the colour typically deposited in the centre of each nail.
“The first time I saw them was about a year ago,” said TJ, nail artist and founder of Bicolor—a studio based in Beverly Hills. “I don’t remember the exact post, but I remember not knowing what it was.” At the time, TJ was amazed by the style but didn’t know how to nail the same until the summer of 2022—when he got his own airbrush gun and became obsessed with the tool. “The first set I did was an airbrushed white on a dark blue background on myself, and I loved it!” he added.
As for Kirsten Chanel, the artist behind California-based Nails by Kirsten Chanel, her initiation into the trend was somewhere between February and March 2022. “An aura manicure can be achieved through the use of blooming gel or the airbrush tool,” she explained, adding how the style has majorly spiked due to nail artists discovering airbrushing techniques, including herself.
TJ also echoed the same belief by stating that the tool has revolutionised the aura manicure altogether. “In order to achieve the look, you use a handheld airbrush machine and airbrush gel, and then a regular gel top coat,” he mentioned.
When SCREENSHOT reached out to Antajah, a licensed nail artist based in San Diego, they claimed that aura manicure is now the biggest trend of the year, similar to 2021’s obsession with blooming gel nail sets.
“You start off with a gel colour for your base and cure it with a UV lamp for 60 seconds,” Antajah explained when asked about the process backing the style. “To create the ‘aura’ part, you will need an airbrush machine—they can be found on Amazon if you’re looking for budget-friendly [options]. Insert the second colour of their liking, and only airbrush the centre of the nail so you can still see the base colour you started off with.”
The artist also went on to offer a tip from their personal experience: “If you add in a third colour [that is] similar or brighter to the second [one], it’ll give more depth and life into your set.”
As celebrities like Megan Fox continue to jump on the trend with powdery-purple bases and orange gradients, it makes one wonder if they should compulsorily get their aura readings done before heading to their nail tech.
Well, the best part about aura nails is that they don’t have to be accurate. “Clients will bring in reference pictures from other inspired sets or they just come with colours that appeal to them,” Antajah admitted. “Sometimes, they let me decide the colours for them—they just want the creations to pop!” So don’t stress yourself out if you can’t capture and analyse your own aura. You can simply refer to an aura colour chart, pick the hues and shades that represent how you feel—or how you want to feel—and don’t be afraid to experiment with bold colours.
While the natural, airbrushed vibe of aura nails is stunning in itself, they can also be used as a base for more intricate manicures. “Some decals and designs I think will look good with aura nails would be pearls, metal studs, gold crosses or maybe chrome accents,” Chanel said.
TJ, on the other hand, highly recommends stencils. “If you have a good stencil set, the options are endless,” he explained, adding how aura manicure is pretty much the same trend that gripped the aughts which is making a comeback now. “They work with anything: rhinestones, hand-painted nail art or whatever you want!”
Matte finish, polka dots, French and duck tips, and sky-inspired manis are also in the bottomless mix. You can additionally play around with the placement of the auras and even implement mixed auras by combining both cool and warm tones to truly pop your creations.
Lastly, I asked all three experts about what they would call aura nails if they could rename the entire trend. While Chanel went with ‘ombré orbs’, TJ highlighted how he would address them as ‘bicolor’—a fitting reference to his own studio.
As for Antajah, the artist said: “I wouldn’t change the name of this set at all, I think it’s perfect for this specific design just because people seek aura colours to see what kind of person they are from within. So them picking what colour of aura nails they want says a little something about them too—I love that concept!”
At the end of the day, remember that aura nails are all about embracing your uninhibited energy and channelling immaculate vibes while you’re at it.