We are living through a nail renaissance

In conversation with Julia Diogo – manicurist to model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

We are living through a sort of nail renaissance. While nail art is absolutely back in both subtle and overt forms, the art of the manicure itself has been revived.

Several names in the nail world are rising to the very top of beauty culture. The nail artist is the new rock star of beauty and the best are quickly becoming celebrity names in their own right. Such is the elite nail professional’s allure that they are increasingly in demand – undertaking residencies all over the world to meet demand for their signature looks, their work appearing on red carpets and magazine covers.

One such artist is Julia Diogo, also known on Instagram as @paintedbyjools_. Her work is instantly recognisable for its flawless detail and generally (though not always) short length.

Since her first manicure at 16, Diogo says, "I have always enjoyed a neat, natural nail." She creates nails that are equipped for the real demands of everyday life – her aesthetic respects hands and nails that work and move, but without sacrificing beauty as a virtue all its own. Diogo's nails are to hands what Chanel slingbacks are to feet.


Based at the world-renowned spa at London's Corinthia Hotel, Diogo's clients include model Rosie Huntington Whiteley. "The power of a great manicure brings confidence," she says. "Once I've finished with a client, they will always comment on how much more confident they feel. It's all about choosing a great colour to suit your skin tone and keeping your hands and cuticles super hydrated."

Diogo describes herself as a skincare manicurist. She says: “I really believe that the skin on your hands needs as much nourishment, care and attention as your nails, even more so after two years of constant hand-sanitising. I love to use great-quality skincare, because if you can use it on your face, why not on your hands too?”

While her flawlessly executed manicures are impossible for an untrained person to recreate at home, Diogo says that at-home nailcare is essential to great nails.

She favours rich, luxuriant creams, recommending Dior Crème Abricot Nail Cream (€27 at Brown Thomas) and Weleda Skin Food Cream (from €9 for 30mls at boots.ie), which is one of Kate Middleton's favourite facial moisturisers.

To keep nails conditioned and protected, Diogo recommends a conditioning base coat – her favourite is Lavender base from professional-only brand Bio Sculpture but something like CND RescueRXX Treatment (€24 at CND stockists) would work too.

For tools, she opts for Navy Professional, and loves the Navy Ethel Manicure Multi-Tool (€48 at navyprofessional.com).

If you find yourself confused by the difference between a gel polish and a gel overlay (both feature frequently and look beautiful), Diogo is here to demystify. “A builder gel overlay is for someone who wants to grow their nails out long and strong,” she says. “The consistency of the product is a lot thicker than your regular gel polish, and clients are able to keep this on their nails for a longer period of time. A gel polish is a coat of colour gel that looks deceptively like a regular varnish manicure” but lasts for two-three weeks.

Product of the week

Jo Malone London Bitter Mandarin Cologne (€120 at Brown Thomas)