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Madeleine Poole explains creative yet technical side of nails

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Madeline Poole (better known by her Instagram moniker, @mpnails) has been instrumental in making nail art a fixture in the fashion world. Her clever, eye-catching designs have been seen in various publications (Vogue, Bazaar, Numero,Wonderland) and runways (Stella McCartney, Prabal Gurung, 3.1 Phillip Lim). But long before forging a career as an editorial manicurist and designer, Poole honed her miniature painting skills by restoring vintage posters and wielding tiny brushes to draw the minutest of details. Today, she translates this talent into nail art with designs that run the gamut, from intricate and fun to cool and refined. Here, an excerpt of her interview from our September issue:

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At what point did you realize you could design nails for a living?
It was a very quick revelation. I was on set at a photo shoot in LA and it was one of my first shoots. The whole experience was new to me because I had recently moved from my hometown in Maryland and was unfamiliar with the world of Hollywood glamor. There I saw a manicurist, which really threw me off. I asked her about her experience—like, did she have work every day? Was it a consistent career? After a bit of research I just had this feeling that I should go for it. I was confident that I would be good at it because I knew how to paint and I’m quite detail-oriented, careful, and capable of working on a small scale. It was at a time in my life where I just needed to figure something out right away and I was super ambitious, so it all came to life very quickly.

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How do you keep your designs so clean and precise? Are there things that make a manicure look professional as opposed to DIY?
I use striping brushes and I generally cut some of the loose hairs at the very point so it is extra clean. I also use a clean-up brush around the cuticle. For this, you can dip an angled flat brush in nail polish remover and drag along the cuticle to clean up the shape. Having the outer edge clean and straight makes the nail look much more professional. I also recommend a top coat—the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat is incredible. It’s glassy, super shiny, dries quickly, and won’t drag color when paired with a Sally Hansen Miracle Gel shade.

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How do you keep your designs so clean and precise? Are there things that make a manicure look professional as opposed to DIY?
I use striping brushes and I generally cut some of the loose hairs at the very point so it is extra clean. I also use a clean-up brush around the cuticle. For this, you can dip an angled flat brush in nail polish remover and drag along the cuticle to clean up the shape. Having the outer edge clean and straight makes the nail look much more professional. I also recommend a top coat—the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat is incredible. It’s glassy, super shiny, dries quickly, and won’t drag color when paired with a Sally Hansen Miracle Gel shade.

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