Celebrity Manicurist Tom Bachik Shares His Nail Secrets

Meet the MANicurist behind many a celeb's perfectly polished fingernails.
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Michelle Villett
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Meet the MANicurist behind many a celeb's perfectly polished fingernails.
Tom Bachik and Araya Hargate

Tom Bachik is a married father of three. He's also a top—if not THE top—celebrity manicurist, flying around the globe to tend to the fingertips of a long list of boldface names including Jennifer Lopez, Zooey Deschanel, Victoria Beckham, Beyoncé and Anne Hathaway. Not exactly the job title you'd imagine for a guy who looks like a total dude from Southern California.

Now, I can't say I've ever experienced or wished for a man to do my nails before. But after meeting him in Toronto recently (he's also L'Oréal's global spokesperson for nails), I totally get it. Not only would his super-cheerful and relaxed demeanour put those high-strung celebs at ease (no beauty shaming here!), he also works with meticulous precision, creativity and attention to detail. The man creates mini works of art!

You'll probably recognize his work—here are Anne Hathaway's butterfly nails:

Anne Hathaway - SAG Awards 2013 nails

Zooey Deschanel's film strips:

Zooey Deschanel - Golden Globes 2013 nails

And how about these J. Lo stilettos?!

Jennifer Lopez - Golden Globes 2013 nails

Just peeking through his Instagram and Twitter feeds is a fun look behind the scenes at how celebs get red carpet-ready. Here's Zooey getting a black and white checkered mani:

Tom Bachik and Zooey Deschanel

Heidi Klum's hands and feet:

Tom Bachik and Heidi Klum

Jennifer Lopez, just how you'd imagine her—with three people tending to her every beauty need.

Tom Bachik and Jennifer Lopez

Tom's also worked with L'Oréal Paris spokesmodel Barbara Palvin:

Tom Bachik and Barbara Palvin

This is model Bianca Balti, who you may remember from that amazing Dolce & Gabbana campaign:

Tom Bachik with Bianca Balti

And Victoria's Secret model Isabeli Fontana:

Tom Bachik and Isabeli Fontana

Not too shabby for a former graphic designer who got into nails on a whim during the recession because he'd heard that the beauty industry thrives during downturns—and nail school, at only three months, was a shorter time investment than learning to do makeup. Since graduating (as the only male in his class), he started working with CND, Chanel and now L'Oréal. Besides his brand and celeb connections, he also does editorial nails for Elle, Harper's Bazaar and Vogue.

When Tom was in Toronto for the launch of L'Oréal's latest polishes, we had a fun chat about nail trends, shapes and his favourite shades:

What's the best nail shape to have this season?

Maybe it's the artist in me, but I'm kind of on both sides of the fence. I think nails can be short and strong—like deliberately short, with a well-manicured, nice, natural shape to them—because to me it feels very strong and deliberate. You know, "I am woman, hear me roar." Or I like nails with a little bit of length and more of a rounded, almond shape. I think the longer a nail gets, the more almond-shaped, the more stiletto you should go.

Tom Bachik L'Oreal Nail Lingerie

L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Nail Colour in Tweet Me (yellow) and Paparazzi Pleaser (navy), at Amazon.comDrugstore.com and ULTA Beauty. On top of the navy is L'Oréal Paris Nail Lingerie in Razzle B Dazzle, at Drugstore.com and Walgreens.

How do you determine the right shape if your nails are on the shorter side?

If your nail is short, a great option is you can copy the shape of the cuticles. So if they have a very rounded cuticle, your shape would be a little more rounded. If they have more of a square cuticle, they should still be soft and rounded, but you can make it a little more square, more strong. As the nail gets longer, you want to create balance; you want to create that look of elegance and slenderness. So we go a little bit more narrow. That helps take away some of the feeling of weight and bulkiness.

Is there any nail shape that's a definite no-no?

A lot of the time, people go, "Oh, acrylics, they're so dated." It's not so much the acrylics as how the person applies them. You can use the acrylics to create a beautiful, elongated nail shape. But when you apply the acrylics and make it square, that's where it starts to look a little out of balance. Have you seen those duck-feet nails, where they go outward? That to me is a big example of a wrong look. The reason for that is because I don't think they help the hands look more beautiful. Yeah, they're crazy show-off nails and you can swim super-fast with them. But I don't know how elegant they are.

Snooki duck feet nails

Is there an age limit on nail art?

I don't think so. Because I think you can keep it simple. If you do a nail or two, I think anybody can do it. To me, nail art is the ultimate fashion accessory. It's the jewellery that adds that feeling to your look. You can do a nail or two and it's like putting on your makeup or a great cuff. So I think you can definitely make it age-appropriate.

Tom Bachik Jennifer Lopez nails

What about nail art on the toes?

The funny thing is it's really changed. People used to rock the nail art on their toes because it was hidden. People didn't see the toes. So even though their hands would be clean and there'd be a sheer pink or a French manicure, then they would go out and do bright colours, glitter and nail art on the toes. Because it was kind of like, "Oh yeah? Well if you only knew the real me." It was on their toes. Now it's almost the opposite. You want it on your hands to say "This is who I am." But put it on your toes and it's like, "What are you hiding?" I think it's okay if someone has a cool design on the big toe. When it starts getting on all the toes, I don't know... it's more conducive on the big toe.

Where do you stand on the French manicure?

I personally feel that the French manicure is a bit on the dated side because I think that trend-wise, the full-coverage nudes and neutral metallics kind of take the place of that. Where you normally would have worn the French manicure, you would now wear these shades. Unless you're doing kind of a two-toned French. I've seen a big resurgence in matching Frenches. So maybe a lavender nail plate and a bright purple tip. Or a baby pink nail and a fuchsia tip. Those types of colour combinations, where it's almost the same but it's light and dark. And you can reverse it. I think for a lot of people that's kind of their introductory way into nail art—it's to do a two-tone French or a moon or something simple like a strip. That's their way of, "Oh yeah, I'm part of this," but still keeping it chic.

Tom Bachik Zooey Deschanel French manicure

What are your favourite nail polish shades?

I like L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Nail Colour in Because You're Worth It, which is kind of like a neutral metallic gold. I love metallics. It's that perfect shade for toes or if you need that go-to metallic shade, it's the one. Because it's got an olive-based tone to it, it literally will change slightly when you have darker or lighter skin. So it's a great go-to, must-have colour.

L'Oreal Colour Riche Nail Colour in Because You're Worth It

L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Nail Colour in Because You're Worth It, at Amazon.comDrugstore.com and ULTA Beauty.

And then my favourite bright is L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Nail Colour in Paparazzi Pleaser.

L'Oreal Colour Riche Nail Colour in Paparazzi Pleaser

L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Nail Colour in Paparazzi Pleaser, at Amazon.comDrugstore.com and ULTA Beauty.

From hot pinks to melon and coral tones and then berries, I love pinks because they're saturated colour and they're bright. Not quite neon so they feel more modern, but with kind of a retro power behind them.

L'Oreal Colour Riche Nail Colour in Pink Me Up

L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Nail Colour in Pink Me Up, at Amazon.comDrugstore.com and ULTA Beauty.

Thanks Tom! And don't forget to also check out my review of the new L'Oréal Paris top coats.

Are you a fan of Tom's nail work?
Do you agree with his views on nail shapes, French manis and nail art?
Have you tried any L'Oréal polishes, nail stickers or top coats?