Sunshine O. has been buffing and polishing the fingertips of your favorite songstresses for almost 15 years. This year at one of the most talked about events, the annual Met Gala, Sunshine adorned her long-time client Solange Knowles in D.I.D. Nail Paint’s gorgeous black, ‘Round Midnight’ nail polish. She sat with us and dished about how the jaw-dropping look came together, the trick behind her legendary manicures, which last 5-10 days without chipping (we will be putting this to the test very soon,) and her favorite products for strong natural nails.
D.I.D. Paint: How long have you been doing nails?
Sunshine O. : I’ve been doing nails for 25 years, I have a mobile grooming business, PipBuzzz To Go, where we travel to various offices and provide manicures to the people there. We will be re-launching in June/July.
Why did you opt for a mobile business as opposed to a stationary salon?
I didn’t want to be in a salon from 9-5. It’s like being in an office. In a nail salon, you may not be working for the whole eight hours. It didn’t work for me, but I’m glad I did get to experience it.
Who and When was your first celebrity nail client?
Christina Aguilera in 2003. I worked at a spa called ‘The Haven’. She was staying at a nearby hotel. I was asked if I would be willing to give her [Christina] a manicure, and I said, “Ok!” I realized then this was what I needed to do because I was able to get away from the 9-5 setting. It’s different but I prefer it. From then whenever she came to NYC, she would always call me to do her nails.
Do you remember what you did to her nails?
Back then it was acrylic. I don’t remember the exact work, but I remember it was acrylic because back then it was all we had.
Let’s talk about this year’s Met Gala. The theme was inspired by the Roman Catholic Church. Solange’s look had a lot going on...the accessories, her netted purse that contained the bottle of Agua de Florida, and cowrie shell charms on her nails (which were coated with D.I.D. Nail Paint’s ‘Round Midnight just in case you forgot), fused in some Yoruba influence to the Catholic theme. (SIDE NOTE: In Louisiana, the “voodoo” New Orleans is known for comes from a blend of Yoruba and Roman Catholic practices) What inspired you to pay homage to the culture and create this look?
That was Solange’s creative idea. She called me a couple days before, and these were her thoughts. She wanted to know, “Can this be done? I said, “Yeah, let me source the shells.” I had to search, and SEARCH until I found them on 6th avenue, a place called Bead World. The look was her creative mind. I don’t know why she doesn’t become a stylist or designer, she has such a great [fashion] sense and eye. When she comes to me with what she wants, I say “Oh My God that’s such a great idea!” Solange says, “It was you too, it was a creative effort, it’s both of us, and YOU executed it.” She knows what she wants, and it’s great for me because I can give her exactly what she wants.
Besides her super amazing creative brain, what else do you love about working with Solange?
A lot of the times, nail stylists don’t get the same attention and accolades as hair, makeup or wardrobe. But we’re apart of the glam team too. Solange is very great at giving “nail moments” and I’m so appreciative of that. When we’re shooting [a video] or a photo shoot, she always does something with her hands. At previous Met Galas she’ll position her hands to show off her nails on her purse. She always delivers a great nail moment that gives the nail stylist recognition, and I love her for that.
How exactly did you execute the Met Gala style?
I had to find tiny jewelry rings. Nail piercings have been around for a while. It comes and it goes. The charm idea is back and people are enjoying it. I used a tiny hole puncher to pierce the Aprés Nail extensions, they are pre-shaped press-ons and I save a lot of application time. After that I applied the color, ‘Round Midnight’ and top coat to seal it all up.
Who had some of your favorite Met Gala Nail looks?
Rihanna, Ashley Graham...It’s nice to see artists step out and try new things. It makes me feel good to see celebrities are thinking about details that include their nails.
A lot of people got on Tiffany Haddish’s case for going to the Gala without getting her nails did. How do you feel when celebs opt out of a red carpet mani?
It would be nice if they did but sometimes they may not be able to. Time may not have allowed her. Everytime I see Tiffany her nails are done. So maybe time got away from her. Or it could’ve been her choice, It doesn’t bother me. She could’ve had them done and changed her mind. The polish could’ve messed up and she took it off last minute because it didn’t look good. We don’t know the circumstances. People probably got on her case because in her Groupon commercial, she talks about getting her nails and hair done, so for her not to have them done was odd. People have something to say about everything nowadays.
What do you recommend for your celebrity clients to use on their nails?
I’m old school, so believe it or not, I recommend Sally Hansen Hard As Nails and Duri Rejuvacote. I love, love, love, Duri.
What are some of your favorite nail trends?
It's hard for me to say, I'm a classic girl, I'm from the old school way of doing things. I don't know how I feel about the long daggers and the bejeweled designs. I think they're pretty and the girls that do them are doing a magnificent job. Anyone who can take the time and do such an ornate design on such a small canvas is literally an artist. I can't do that, its not my lane but I think it's beautiful and they deserve more recognition.
How would you describe your personal style when it comes to doing nails?
I like nice polished nails. But that's also telling my age, I'm from a different era. I just want you to be pristine. Long nails are beautiful, Diana Ross back in the day, she was the epitome of glamorous. She [Diana] and Barbara Streisand had long, nicely shaped nails polished one color. I think that's where I get my simplicity and style from.
Any tips to make your manicure last?
5-6 coats of nail polish. I top coat twice.
How long does that take to dry?
Not long if you know how to polish them right.
Follow Sunshine on Instagram @pipbuzzz for updates on her mobile grooming services, and her more of her beautiful work.