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How Rihanna Knows Her Nails Are Way Too Long

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Courtesy Rihanna, Courtesy Kimmie Kyees; Inset: BE

Rihanna and Katy Perry are known for their bold beauty moves — manicures included. But who’s the genius behind their famous finger styles? It’s Los Angeles-based nail artist Kimmie Kyees.

Kyees has been doing nails for 19 years, and has worked with celebrities for almost eight. Other nails she’s polished include those of Jennifer Lopez, Pink, the Kardashians and Eva Longoria — just to name a few.

Kyees tells PEOPLE that manicures are generally collaborative processes between the star and the stylist, but that Rihanna is particularly involved in hers. “She’s involved with everything about her look and style — she’s a trendsetter,” Kyees says of the Bajan babe, whom she first worked with on 2007’s “Umbrella” video.

Recently, the “Where Have You Been” songstress has done away with her signature dagger-like “stiletto” talons — a trend that Kyees credits the pop star with help making popular. “Now she has a narrow square shape acrylic (above) — a style she actually came up with,” the manicurist reveals. “She loves her long nails. She does the iPhone test — if she can still type then [they’re] OK.”

Last week, Kyees did Perry’s nails for a magazine cover (below, left). “Katy wanted the ying-yangs, so I used gel,” she explains. “She said they’re her favorite ones that I’ve ever done for her!” (Indeed; Perry even Tweeted her admiration for her new finger tips.)

Katy Perry Nail Art
Courtesy Katy Perry (2}; Inset: NPG

Kyees prefers to use gel over regular polish because it’s more convenient. “It’s super easy to get up and go because there’s no dry time and you have versatility,” she says. “You can put a pair of press-ons over the gels, and when you take them off you still have a perfect manicure.”

Press-on nails are popular among performers because they’re easy to remove and perfect for quick changes. “I can be at Katy’s video shoot working on really elaborate nails while she’s doing her wardrobe and makeup,” Kyees explains, referring to the floral manicure (above, right) she created for one of Perry’s upcoming music videos. “She then comes to me and I pop them on — it’s so busy that sometimes I only have two minutes with her on set.”

Although most of us don’t have access to a professional nail artist as talented as Kyees, she says it’s simple to achieve a star-worthy mani on your own. For total ease, she recommends using Sally Hansen nail strips, though Kyees also has her own line of Minx.

To make your nail strip manicure last longer, Kyees also shares this trick of the trade: “Get the Red Carpet Manicure System — it comes with everything you need for at-home gels — and put the clear gel over your nail stickers,” she shares. “It will protect it and keep it looking great for a while. I do it for Katy all the time.” Noted!

–Jennifer Cress