Navigating the beauty world is definitely not for the faint of heart especially in the realm of nail polishes. When we start to think about how the market is flooded with new releases, new formulas, new features, we start to get a little overwhelmed. To help us navigate the hottest trends for summer, we talked to Paintbox Creative Director, Julie Kandalec to guide us (and you) on our quest for the perfect summer shade.

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Tell us a little bit about your journey? Where are you now in your career?

I knew I wanted to work with celebrities, and in order to do that, I needed to build a body of work and get an agent! I met with my first agent the summer of 2010 and he signed me on the spot! I moved to Manhattan two months later.I worked on set nearly full-time, building my book and relationships, and that is where I met Eleanor Langston. She was a beauty editor at the time and we would work together on stories frequently. We really just hit it off-so when she reached out to me to grab coffee in early 2013 I couldn’t wait to see her. I knew she had a new venture up her sleeve, but I had NO idea of what it was-after I found out about her concept for Paintbox, I was so excited to be on board.Paintbox has officially been open just over two years now, and it has been the most incredible two years. I am the creative director for Paintbox, and also Essie’s celebrity manicurist in NYC, plus freelancing on set still as well! I’ve been fortunate to be an expert on Nails: Mastered and lead artist for Essie for fashion week for several years straight now.


Photo via Paintbox

Please describe the curation process/ how you translate the trends?

We use runway trends as one source of inspiration- we go through all the runway nails each season (and clothes too!) to see what would translate into a Paintbox look. I can’t give everything away- big there’s lots and lots of narrowing down to the perfect cohesive collection.

What inspires Paintbox’s nail art?

We find inspiration from fashion trends, architecture + design, flowers and more–it’s incredible what you see that can translate to a really chic and modern nail design. Negative space (mirroring cut outs and peek-a-boo accessories) as well as anything and everything holographic + pearlescent have been huge for us this season. Our 2nd Anniversary capsule highlighted 3 past designs that were such crowd favorites we brought them back in our signature blush, navy, and rose gold colors, so the clients play an integral role as well.

What’s your favorite polish to wear on your own tips and toes?

I am a girlie girl! I love red nails with a negative space moon (like our look “Inner Circle), or having glitter on the tip (Glisten Up), or a nail with Swarovski crystals, like Crystal Clear. My nails are usually an almond shape.I never wear art on my toes- and they don’t match my hands either – I never match! They’re usually some shade of classic red in the winter and coral in the summer.


Photo via Paintbox

What is the best nail tip or trick that most people don’t know about?

Clean up polish around your cuticles using an orangewood stick that does NOT have cotton on it- somewhere along the way we got to thinking that cotton on an orangewood stick was the best way to do this-but people forget that wood is porous!! (aka there is no need to wrap cotton around it to clean up because is just going to stick in the wet polish anyways!).

Do you see any big nail trends emerging for summer?

Opalescent finishes and nail art decor has been huge since my time in Korea last May, and I definitely see it sticking around for a few more seasons!

What about shape and length?

We are leaning away from the dramatic, pointy “Jenner nail” and back into an elegant almond- shaped nail.

What nail look(s)need to just pack up and move on?

Duckbill nails, bubble nails- enough already! They just are not flattering to anyone. You can draw attention to your hands with interesting art instead of their shape.

Is there any exciting new Paintbox news you can share with us?

Yes! We’re launching Hot Lines on June 4th, a summer collection of five designs all featuring linear elements. Reinterpreting a perennial classic, Hot Lines is playful, elongating, and graphic, giving subtle nods to matte, negative space, and muted neons trends. The collections names are: All Angles Covered, Up Top!, Gridlock, Fine Points, and Velvet Ropes.


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