Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy. We may have predicted that nail art was going to be big for 2010, but it was partially driven by our own obsessions with all things manicured. With dozens of new products on the market that allow you to paint and doodle to your heart's content, it's easy to whip up some fun nail polish designs that look way harder than they are to create. But two words of advice before we commence with Nail School 101: Short, trim nails keep things from looking too campy, and we can't recommend roping in a friend to help you out with your dominant hand. So, dream bigger than ever before —here are four nail art designs that'll give you serious cuticle cred!
Tools: For the base coat, Rimmel Lasting Finish Pro in Sunset Orange, $4.91, available at Drugstores; for the blooms and leaves, Milani Nail Art Precision Brushes in Green Sketch and Yellow Design, $3.99, available at Cherry Culture; for the outlines, Sally Hansen Nail Art Pen in Black, $7, available at Drugstores; any clear topcoat.
Directions: After applying a base color and waiting for it to dry, make two to three messy splotches in a bright color with your precision brush. Add one to two isosceles triangles in green. Don't worry if things look sloppy at this stage. Once it dries, use the Nail Art pen to draw "V"s over the green leaves, and spiral squiggles around the flowers to mimic petals. After it dries, apply a top coat, admire, and then be prepared to field compliments.
Tools: For the basecoat, OPI Nail Polish in Yoga-Ta Get This Blue, $7.90, available at Amazon; for the tips, mix three shades Sinful Colors in Pearl Harbor, $2, available at Cherry Culture; Milani Nail Art Precision Brushes in Art of Silver, $3.99, available at Cherry Culture; Deborah Lippman Polish in Happy birthday, $18, available at Lippmann Collection.
Directions: After applying the base color, use the polish with the larger glitter pieces and apply to 1/3 of the end of your nail. Use the glitter polish with the smaller pieces and apply over the other glitter layer to 1/2 of your nail. Line the end tips with the precision brush. Just try not to bust out your jazz hands too often. Helpful tip: To remove glitter polish, soak half a cotton ball in remover and hold it in place over your nail with a piece of tin foil. Wait two minutes, and twist to remove all the glitter.
Directions: Apply the base color, and when it's dry, paint spots that vary in shape but stay in nearly consistent sizes. Once that layer is dry, use the pen and draw two oblong shapes along the side of each colored spot. Make sure one of the shapes is more like a circle, and the other is more like a "U". Apply clear topcoat. Ferocious, no?
Directions: Apply the base color, and wait 'til dry. Pour a little bit of dark polish onto a hard, throwaway surface (we used a CD case) and dab a little bit at a time onto the foundation sponge. Using short, quick strokes, pat on the dark polish layer by layer, focusing on the ends of your nails. Before completely drying, use the topcoat to blend all the colors together. Voila! Ombre nails without a spraygun!