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Nails by Mei Nail Art collection
Courtesy of Inked by Dani

Get a Nails by Mei manicure at home with her temporary tattoo collection


TextAlex Peters

Beloved by Balenciaga and Bella Hadid, you can now DIY the highly sought-after nail artist’s unique style – we catch up with Mei Kawajiri exclusively on her new nail art collaboration

Mei Kawajiri AKA Nails by Mei is one of the most in demand nail artists around. Maximalist, highly creative, and kitschy in the best, most over-the-top way, Mei’s signature aesthetic pushes the boundaries of traditional nail art and has led her to become a viral sensation with a client roster that reads more like the Met Gala guest list. Think Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kim Kardashian, Rosalía, Ariana Grande, and Marc Jacobs, as well as labels including Tom Ford, Balenciaga, and Moschino. 

What her high flying success means unfortunately, however, is that for us mere mortals securing a slot in her appointment book is near impossible. Which is why we are so excited with this latest launch which brings the Nails by Mei manicure straight into our homes. The New York-based nail artist has teamed up with temporary tattoo beauty brand Inked by Dani on a capsule collection of temporary nail art tattoos. 

The limited edition collection is full of Y2K-inspired motifs, characters, and bubble lettering hand drawn by Mei, and retains all the elements of her trademark playful style while making it more accessible for an everyday look. “Even though I love over the top nails there is something so fresh about just a clear base and a few cute doodles,” says Mei. “It is very pure and simple, just like drawing on your nails with a permanent marker.”

If the 2000s aesthetic isn’t enough to invoke all that delicious nostalgia for you, the application process undoubtedly will – who of us didn’t spend large swaths of childhood painstakingly dabbing on damp temporary tattoos gleaned from gum wrappers? To use the tattoos simply apply them directly to your nails and  finish with a clear polish. Each kit also includes temporary tattoos for face and body beauty looks.

If you’re looking for tips on how to style your new nail art, Mei says you can go simple with just a single tattoo or load up your nails for a full look. Still need inspiration? Just check out the runway nails at the Puppets and Puppets Spring/Summer 2022 show which were impossibly long, razor sharp, translucent and stacked with tattoos. Ultimately, however you style them, the most important thing for Mei is that you are doing it. “Everyday I receive messages about when I am going to be able to take appointments in different parts of the world,” she says. “In the meanwhile, this is a way to have Nails by Mei anytime and anywhere!” 

We caught up with Mei to find out more about the collection, upcoming nail trends, and what happens when two Pisces collide.

You created hand drawn illustrations for the nail tattoos. What inspired the designs? 

Mei Kawajiri: I was inspired by “Ani-Mei”, my own Anime character I created during the pandemic based on my crazy nail-filled life. I drew my character in different emotions and situations that we were restricted from experiencing in real life due to the pandemic. These nail tattoos are very kawaii and fantasy – exactly like the world in which Ani-Mei lives.

The tattoos have a big Y2K vibe. Why is that an aesthetic that interests you? 

Mei Kawajiri: Y2K is my most memorable time. I was playing with hair clips, fake tattoos, eye shadows, press on nail tips – dressing up every day with friends. It was such a fun and carefree time, I love that this vibe is back. We need it! 

Why do you think that 2000s aesthetic is such a popular trend right now?

Mei Kawajiri: I think that the younger generation that didn’t know or experience Y2K for themselves must find it very fresh and certainly fun because there are so many ways to style Y2K trends. I think they are adding their own twist to it, and creating a new style of Y2K.

Before doing this collection, were you interested in the aesthetic and culture of tattoos? 

Mei Kawajiri: When Dani (Egna, founder of Inked by Dani) asked to make nail tattoos, it was too funny because I already had temporary tattoos in my beauty cabinet that I would use. I love that like nail art, it’s easy to put on and take off, and can switch depending on your mood and outfit style. It is always really entertaining to see everyone else’s reactions to my tattoos.

What was the experience of working with Dani like?  

Mei Kawajiri: Dani is a Pisces just like me – so many Pisces are amazing artists. I could tell she was creative and so passionate about the quality of this product which was very inspiring.

Do you have a particular favourite design from the collection? 

Mei Kawajiri: The cat paws! So cute.

What nail trend are you excited about at the moment? 

Mei Kawajiri: Anime nails are trendy right now, but for me Anime nails have been always and forever! Anime was such a big part of my childhood, where I come from, and where I am inspired to go as an artist.

What do you think the next big nail trends will be?  

Mei Kawajiri: Hand painted nail art – or using very realistic tattoos like these to achieve that look.

The nail art sets will be available to buy from November 1 at Inked By Dani and retailers including Selfridges and Ulta

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