Well nail-art newbies, we've heard your cries and polled our resident R29 polish pros to put together a cheat sheet of basic nail-art tricks anyone can use at home. Read on for their best tips and get ready to step up your manicure game.
Christy Kurtz, Photo Editor
"If your hand isn't steady enough to do nail art, try techniques that don't involve painting on your nail, like splatter nails or cutting sections of stickers to create neat effects. Instead of using a nail-art brush, buy a very tiny, cheap paint brush from your local art store. The longer handle gives you more control, and this way, you can use every color in your collection. Also, in some designs, sometimes going back and forth between colors gets a more polished, finished look rather than painting an entire nail one color and doing designs on top of that. Finally, always wait for your nails to completely dry before adding the topcoat. I've messed up some pretty cool nails by them bleeding together [because I put the topcoat on too soon]."
Shani Silver, Chicago Editor
"To create a cool marbled effect, put several different pastel colors and one metallic color — I recommend gold — in individual plastic cups and add a little polish remover to each cup. Paint your nail white, let it dry, then sponge paint on the colors, one color at a time, using a cut-up makeup sponge and some tweezers. For perfect-sized polka dots, use a Q-Tip. When painting with your weaker hand, move your stronger hand where you want the design to go and just keep the paint brush steady in your weaker hand — the dominant hand will do all the work, resulting in a cleaner design. Lastly, to clean up any errant lacquer, dip a paint brush in polish remover and 'erase' your mistakes."
Laura Miller, Assistant Photo Editor
"To start, wipe the surface of your nail clean with nail-polish remover before applying polish or stickers. This will remove any oil and makes the manicure last longer. To make hearts, use the rounded-handle end of a paint brush to place two dots of polish next to each other, then use the brush side to draw a V connecting the two dots and fill it in for your heart. To create the half moon manicure, use reinforcement stickers — those circular stickers for hole-punched paper. Select two colors and then paint your nails with the color you want the half moon to be. Once it's completely dry, apply half the sticker to the bottom of your nail and paint the tips of your nail the other color. Peel off the sticker and voilà!"
Connie Wang, Global Editor
"Always buff the surface of your nail first with a foam buffer to make your polish go on as smooth as possible. Also, a good topcoat always makes your mistakes less obvious — I like Seche Vite. Finally, use a black nail-polish marker to make doodles and defining lines on top of your nail-art designs. It'll make everything you do look a lot more purposeful...and a lot less DIY."
Photographed by Erin Yamagata