Jin Soon Choi on ‘Realistic and Feminine’ Nails
Written by Sara Watson
Photographed by Marius W. Hansen
When it comes to holiday manicures, Jin Soon Choi has a simple goal. “I want every age group to enjoy it,” she says, “with any outfit.” This broad-based approach has helped Choi to become a sought-after nail expert, whether prepping models backstage or overseeing her trio of New York nail spas. Her own line, JINsoon, is informed by years of research and development, along with insights from clients and friends as to what they’d like in a polish.
Long-lasting and quick-drying were top requests. “People have no patience,” she says, laughing. From there, she added UV protection and a sumptuous crème finish. Choi’s patented, eco-friendly formulas adapt gel technology without using harsh ingredients. “I tried to put in every single aspect of what people wanted and what I wanted as a nail expert,” she says. “Color-wise, that means shades that are not garish or bling-bling.”
It doesn’t matter if you wear a light color, dark color, or only buff. Still, nails are a part of fashion. Jin Soon Choi
A knack for versatility with a minimalist edge has propelled Choi to the top of the fashion and beauty industries, but her career started more humbly. After moving to New York City from South Korea, following a brief stint in Olympia, Washington, Choi chose the occupation of manicurist because it was a common trade for immigrants like herself, she says. “But I felt like I could always do a little bit more.”
With a personality as authentic and lively as her abstract editorial looks, which often have roots in modern art (the Color Field movement is a current inspiration), people gravitated to Choi and were inclined to help her. After suggesting Choi transition to fashion, one client helped her write letters–58 of them–to send to fashion and beauty publications. Another introduced her to a management agency. Choi’s own tenacity meant the rise did not stop there: editorials, runway shows, collaborations, her own nail line, and, above all, elevating nails as high fashion, all followed.
To bolster a manicure’s staying power, Choi suggests adding more color at the tip of nails. “That’s the first part to come off,” she says.
“It doesn’t matter if you wear a light color, dark color, or only buff,” she says. “Still, nails are a part of fashion. Without your nails done, your look cannot be complete.” And the holiday season–a flurry of shaking hands, writing cards, wrapping gifts, whipping up holiday treats–puts the focus on nails like no other. The key to a flawless manicure, Choi says, is simple nail art with a rosy or white base. “If you wear all black, those white nails are going to be amazing,” she says, recommending nuanced shades such as Doux or Kookie White over pure white. The shape should be short and round to a natural square, a look she describes as “realistic and feminine.”
Choi likens nails to a supporting actor, but believes they serve a grander purpose. The act of manicuring is meditative, she says, a way of changing one’s mood and pampering both body and spirit. “It’s an affordable, pleasant time to have by yourself,” she says. And during the holidays, that can be the best gift of all.