Meet the Man Behind Jennifer Lopez’s Many Viral Manicures | Vogue

2022-12-12 19:07:11 By : Mr. HengTe Yu

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Tom Bachik didn’t begin his career as a world-renowned manicurist—in fact, at the start, nails were never in the cards at all. A skateboarder and design fanatic whose obsession with airbrushing saw him custom designing skateboards and snowboards in his spare time, he studied graphic design with the aim of setting up his own studio to “paint all these different toys, from race car helmets to motorcycles.” 

So, how did he become a manicurist for some of the starriest names—think Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez, Nicola Peltz-Beckham, and Camila Mendes—in show business? It started as many good things do, over dinner—specifically with his cousin, who was learning how to cut hair. “He was telling me that during times of recession, the revenue in the beauty industry increases—people want to look and feel good,” Bachik tells me over the phone. “My wife was about to have our first child, I needed to stop the starving artist act, and then he mentioned nails. It was the early ’90s and you could make six figures a year doing nails—my wife’s eyes glazed over and dollar signs appeared. She was like, ‘You are going to be a manicurist’,” he laughs. 

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Riding the ’90s wave, a period of time in which many of the nail trends we love right now were born, he realized that all of his experience painting different equipment had actually given him a foot in the door. “I had already taught my mom’s manicurist how to use an airbrush on nails,” he says. “And I realized that, as a manicurist, I could run my own business, set my hours, work as much as I wanted, and take time off when my kids had sports or dance class. I was only limited by how much I was willing to put into it.” The lesson? Never feel like you’re stuck on one set career path—the opportunities are endless.

He still takes inspiration from his old work and believes that the fundamental principles of design he learned way back when have helped him become a better manicurist. His priority is always focusing on the manicure itself—the nail care bit, which doesn’t include the polish or gel on top. “I see a lot of amazing nail art but the nails and cuticles are so bad—which is like having a nice house with a really bad yard. It throws the whole thing off,” he says. Taking care of the natural nail is key, alongside meticulous cuticles, well-hydrated skin, and perfectly (and consistently) shaped nails. The devil is in the details. 

After the nail care, it’s all about excellent color and art. “Instead of just creating a pretty manicure, for me, it’s all about the design,” he says. “Before I paint them, I think about how the nails balance the hand; how they elongate the fingers and whether they make them look elegant; the positive and negative space; and then the composition of the nail art and its dimension and depth. The nail art is the whipped cream on top. It’s what makes everything that much more special.” 

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He finishes with formulas that take hand and nail care to the next level: those intended for the face. “Instead of an $6 cuticle oil, I’m grabbing a $100 Chanel facial oil for my clients—they’re light, absorb quickly, help cell reproduction, even out skin tone, remove fine lines, and so on—we need these formulas for our hands!” His top tip is to always incorporate your nail care into your evening facial routine—take a little extra oil or serum and rub it into your cuticles and the backs of your hands.

With global attention on his clients and all of their style choices, how does it feel to inevitably set nail trends when he’s working with them? He tries not to overthink it: “It’s more about working with my client one-on-one and creating a look that plays off their whole look—it’s uniquely theirs,” he says. “Whether it’s J Lo, Selena, or whoever I’m working with, it has to be them. Their nails are an extension of their personality and fashion preference.” To that end, he also works closely with their stylist, hair, and makeup teams to bring the look to life. 

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This year, he worked on both Peltz-Beckham and Lopez’s wedding manicures—arguably two of the most imitated looks of the year. For Peltz-Beckham, he created a “custom blended ’90s supermodel American mani,” while Lopez asked for “something super simple and clean.” He created milk bath nails decorated with tiny white flowers. “We also painted a hummingbird, which no one really noticed, but it was there and special to her,” he said. Lopez takes an active role in finding ideas for her nails, sending him photos over text, but always stipulates she wants every design done “[Tom’s] way”. 

As for winter nail trends—what is he seeing coming through now? “I’m seeing so many textures—new types of glitter, reflective gels, and shimmer. I think the new word that’s also caught on is ‘glazes,’ so we’re using different types of clear chromes that you can apply over the top of colors to create different effects,” he says. “There’s going to be lots of sparkle, especially as we move into the holiday and New Year period, from metallic accents to pops of color.” His personal favorites? Anything unexpected that will stand out and contrast with an outfit… wearing a neon at Christmas, he says, is “so much fun.”

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“There’s a cliché comment that the nails are the full-stop at the end of the sentence. I actually think it’s bigger than that—nails are the punctuation at the end of a sentence. Sometimes it’s an exclamation point, sometimes it’s a question mark, but your nails can change the whole attitude of your look.” Amen to that. 

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