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Citlali Gutierrez gummy nails
Courtesy of Citlali Gutierrez

Citlali Gutierrez is crafting gummy manicures you can sink your teeth into

Juicy and shiny like sugar on sour gummy worms, Brooklyn-based nail artist Citlali Gutierrez brings playful joy to every set

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The problem with trends like blueberry milk, syrup and chocolate-glazed doughnut nails – besides the fact that they are empty, if poetic, TikTok-fuelled, capitalistic rebrandings of simple manicures – is that they barely resemble the food they are named after. They may share the colour, but that’s generally where the similarities end and they never truly evoke the actual cuisine. If a beauty trend is going to be named after a food, then the least it should do is encapsulate the meal in all of its delicious glory: its texture, its silhouette, its appearance. Enter Citlali Gutierrez’s gummy manicures.

Although it’s not a self-described aesthetic, there is no denying that the Dallas-born and now Brooklyn-based Gutierrez’s handmade gel sculptures look like sweets. They mould an assortment of chunky Play-Doh-like shapes: hearts, dolphins, skulls, paws, stars, and bows; and their trademark has become a butterfly spread across both thumbs in an iridescent, chrome hue, shimmering like sugar on sour gummy worms. In Gutierrez’s Instagram comments, people leave candy emojis and messages like “soo juicy so sweet omg” and “I wanna chew em”.

To further these lighthearted motifs, Guiterrez often fuses memes and pop culture into their glossy designs, like 3D chihuahuas, minions, Kermit, Miss Piggy and fried emojis. It’s a testament to never taking their work too seriously, as they play around with things like chiselled bimbo boobs. They’re a part of the rising at-home nail artists, who are bringing joy back into the beauty world. Here, they tell us more about their practice.

How did you get into nail art?

Citlali Gutierrez: A friend got me supplies, and since then, I’ve practised on a lot of friends.

What are you trying to communicate through your work?

Citlali Gutierrez: Just want to do nails that both the wearer and I enjoy. My goal is to make them cute, relevant and fun for us. I am kind of picky about the designs I want to make but luckily I get to freestyle a lot.

What’s your earliest beauty-related memory?

Citlali Gutierrez: Wearing heavy stage make-up for dance when I was like eight or nine. I remember my lashes felt super heavy.

What’s been your career highlight so far?

Citlali Gutierrez: I don’t really think in terms of highlights, but I do feel proud when I look back to how I started and where I am now.

Which fictional character do you most relate to?

Citlali Gutierrez: I’ve been rewatching Pokémon and I love James, but most of the time, I’m emotionally like Psyduck.

Who is your beauty icon?

Citlali Gutierrez: Bayoneta down because she’s a baddie.

What is your current obsession? 

Citlali Gutierrez: I’m obsessed with dogs and shiny, colourful trinkets.

What does beauty mean to you?

Citlali Gutierrez: Feeling confident and treating yourself as best as you can.

When do you feel most beautiful?

Citlali Gutierrez: When I’m hydrated, clean and moisturised.

What is the future of beauty?

Citlali Gutierrez: I don’t know, but hopefully, it keeps getting crazier and more accessible.

It is the sixth day and you are creating humans. They can look however you want them to. What do they look like?

Citlali Gutierrez: That’s honestly too much work and I really don’t want to create life. I feel like I’d develop a god complex and I’m a Virgo, so bad mix.

A friend once exclaimed that when he dies he wants ‘weeping virgins carved from marble to be placed in a circle around his grave’. What would your ideal tombstone look like? 

Citlali Gutierrez: I want to engrave my own tombstone with hearts and stars. I don’t want to be buried but I do want a little shrine dedication that my friends go to religiously. All of my loved ones will have to carry my ashes in a cute pendant at all times hehe.

You encounter a hostile alien race and sound is their only mechanism for communication. What song would you play to them to inspire them to spare you and the rest of the human race?

Citlali Gutierrez: ‘White Flag’ by Dido.