Interview: Luca Harino, The Woman Behind Willow Smith’s ‘Snail Nails’

In addition to having a hit song everyone in the world can’t stop singing with “Whip My Hair,” Willow Smith is becoming a little trend setter. When we saw Willow on The Ellen Degeneres Show recently, we noticed some crazed nail designs she was sporting. Now we’ve tracked down the stylist responsible for these designs to find out how these came into being. Her name is Luca Harino, and she is a Los Angeles based designer who is working to bring this Japanese trend stateside. She calls them”Cookie Nails,” and says she lets Willow mix and match whichever designs she’s in the mood for in the morning. (Make sure to click through our gallery to see some more of Luca’s more outrageous designs!)

Are you mostly a nail artist or is this a new specialty?
My specialty is in styling/designing nail art as well as clothing. I was part of the Michael Jackson “This Is It” tour styling team where we embellished & detailed the costumes with crystals.

What do you call these nail treatments?
Cookie Nails by Luca

How did you get started doing this?
I am a girl who loves being fun & sexy. My nail art is my way of expressing the inner self. I don’t believe in getting wrapped up or suppressed by social norms, age gender or social backgrounds. People should express themselves in any way that they can. In this case, I express myself through my nail art.

How did you meet Willow?
Through her amazing hairstylist, Marcia Hamilton. She’s been with the Smiths for a while and I’ve known her for few years.

Are these a Japanese trend that is coming to America?
Yes, these 3D over the top nail designs have been popular in Japan for more than 10 years. Of course the design all varies depending on the artist. My style is rocker, sexy & edgy. Different than other stylist’s designs, my designs are very unique to me.

Are we going to see these more often?
I hope so! Like I said, these nail designs have been popular in Japan for a while. Girls in the states appreciate them but they are bit timid to put them on themselves. I would love to see more girls here have fun with it & be more colorful!

What is the upkeep like on nails like these?
It all depends on the client needs. If the client wants something more permanent I will sculpt the designs out of acrylic & attach nail tips to the nail bed and build onto it with acrylic. These more permanent designs typically will need to be filled every 2 weeks. When I worked on Rihanna’s nail designs for the BET awards in New York, we went with a more permanent adhesion & design. But when I have clients like Willow, who is looking for something less permanent, I will attach the art designs to press-on nails and adhere the press on nails to the client’s nailbed. This will give the client the option to remove the nail easily. I’ve designed several sets for Willow & she likes to mix & match the different sets to create her own look.

Is it hard to keep the tips attached?
No, it really is no different than getting the usual acrylic nails put on. The designs are what make my 3D nails unique.

How do new clients usually react to these designs?
I love watching the progression of my clients. They usually start out safe but as the months and years go by they get bolder, bigger & crazier with their design choices. I LOVE that!

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    • kandy

      silley and disgusting….children are germy enough!!

    • willow

      so u are calling me a disgusting

    • Gyaru-Chan

      I originally did the decoden nails because of Japan and the Japanese Gyaru. I posted the Whip My Hair video on a Facebook Gyaru group.