Score A Lisa Frank Mani With This Nail-Art Tutorial

Like any girl who came of age in the '90s, we worshipped at the altar of Lisa Frank and we had the Trapper Keeper to prove it. Dolphins dancing across starry waters, Technicolor tie-dye, kittens on pastel clouds, unicorns surrounded by rainbows — we owned every folder, sticker, notebook, and pen adorned with her colorful dreamscapes. We couldn't think of a better inspiration for some super-colorful nail art, so we asked mani maestro Fleury Rose to come up with some cool designs based on our favorite Lisa Frank motifs: Tie-Dye Stars, Rainbow Leopard Print, and Rainbow Unicorn. They look tricky, but once you see our handy breakdown, you'll be sporting some Frank-ified nails of your own in no time flat.
Photographed by Shanita Sims
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Our inspiration: Lisa Frank!
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Tie-Dye Time
If this doesn't give you some hardcore nostalgia for your middle school days, we don't know what will. To get this look, you're going to need a sheer, milky white polish; 3-4 complementary nail colors (we chose purple, hot pink, fuchsia, and baby blue); nail decals; polish remover, and a disposable eyeliner brush.

Photographed by Shanita Sims
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Fleury says it's going to be easiest to unscrew all of the tops of your bottles before you begin this one — it takes a long time to dry and you're more apt to smudge if you have to futz around too much. Start off by painting all of your nails with the creamy white polish (Fleury likes Color Club's Bonjour Girl shade). "It helps to have a lighter base with these bright designs so that the colors pop more," says Fleury. After this, you're going to want to do one nail at a time, as you need the polishes to be semi-wet.

Starting at the base of the nail, paint a thick strip of color diagonally across the nail. Do this with all the colors, until you reach the tip of the nail. It's okay if you overlap, since you are going to blend them anyways. Fleury recommends mixing up the order of the colors for each nail to give this look a more authentic feel.

Photographed by Shanita Sims
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While the polish is still wet, dip your eyeliner brush in some nail polish remover (it should be wet, not soaking) and, starting at the base of the nail, gently drag it up vertically through the colors. Do this in four separate lines, all the way across the nail. Repeat this on each nail, then wait for it to dry.

Apply a thick top coat to the nail, then grab an orangewood stick and tap it against the brush of the top coat to get a dab of it on the stick. Use that dab to pick up a star decal and place it on the nail, pressing it into the still-wet top coat on your nail. Repeat with a few different sizes of stars, or add some crystals if you're feeling really fancy. Added bonus: The decals are really great at covering up any mistakes. Wait for it to dry, then apply another layer of top coat to the whole nail to hold it all together.

Photographed by Shanita Sims
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We think Lisa Frank would be really proud of this rad manicure. Either that, or admonish us for not adding a cartoon kitten into the design.

Photographed by Shanita Sims
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Rainbow Leopard
You've heard of a snow leopard? Well, in Lisa Frank's world, the Rainbow Leopard reigns supreme. For this cool animal print, you're going to need turquoise, hot pink, and yellow polish; that milky white hue; a black nail art pen; a makeup sponge, cut into small pieces, and a glitter top coat.

Photographed by Shanita Sims
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Paint your nails with your milky white polish, and wait for it to dry. Grab one of your sponges and apply some of the yellow polish onto the tip. Use the sponge to stipple the polish on your nail in a wide, horizontal line across the middle of the nail. Do this on all your nails, then grab a clean sponge and do the same thing with the turquoise polish (on the bottom of the nail) and the hot pink (on the tip).

You want the polish strips to overlap each other as this is what is going to create the gradient, rainbow effect. Fleury says that you're going to make a mess and get polish on your fingers — there's really no way around that one — so don't bother trying to clean it up until after all of the colors have been applied to your nail. Once that's done, take a Q-Tip (Fleury says the pointed ones work awesome), dip it in polish remover and gently clean up around the nail.

Photographed by Shanita Sims
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Once the rainbow has dried, it's time to give your leopard her spots. We've already shown you how our Global Editor Connie gets her animal print on, but Fleury's got her own tricks: She used a black nail art pen to draw on spots at random across the nail. She says the easiest way to master animal prints is to pull up an image of leopard spots and have that in front of you for reference as you mimic the pattern. They're basically just disconnected U-shapes, arranged in a circle, with some dots thrown in for variety. Looks complicated, but they're easy peasy! Finish by applying a few coats of your glitter top coat to add some sparkle and seal everything in place.

Photographed by Shanita Sims
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For those that like their Frank a little more fierce, this edgy design gets two paws up from us.

Photographed by Shanita Sims
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Rainbow Unicorn Mane
Remember Majesty the Unicorn? She was by far one of our favorite Lisa Frank characters, mostly because we couldn't stop obsessing over that swirly rainbow hair of hers. To get that look on your nails, you're going to need a mix of bright and pastel lacquers; a thin brush or some nail art polishes; a thick, super-glittery polish, and (one more time) that milky hue.

Photographed by Shanita Sims
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After you've painted your white base on, wait for it to dry, then paint your whole nail with a bright yellow hue. Take your light blue polish and create a half moon shade at the bottom of your nail. Then, take your bright purple polish and apply that across the tip of your nail, almost like you are doing a French manicure. These are going to be the guides that the rest of your colors follow for their shape.

Photographed by Shanita Sims
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In the middle of your nail, use a nail art polish or paintbrush to create a thin, hot pink swirl across the middle of the nail, following the shape of the blue and purple swirls you've already done. Do the same directly above it with a bright green polish. There should be two spaces above and below these strips where the yellow polish peeks through. Take your chunky glitter polish and begin outlining each color swirl with it. You can mix it up and outline every other color to add some variety to the pattern.

Photographed by Shanita Sims
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Rainbows, glitter, unicorns — who else but Lisa Frank?!?

Photographed by Shanita Sims
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