So you've mastered a neat gel manicure and you want to take it to the next level. Nail art is the perfect way to elevate your manicure and give your nails the wow factor.
Even if you're a fan of a simpler manicure, you're bound to find a nail art design you love. The finished product doesn't need to be intricate or elaborate. Something as a simple as polka dots on your ring finger will upgrade your manicure in a fun way.
What Is Nail Art Design?
Nail art design is the practice of decorating your nails by adding patterns or pictures to your manicure. You can do it on all of your nails or just an accent nail – there are no nail art rules. Likewise, any design at all counts as nail art.
Whether you choose an intricate design, or just something simple like a stripe down each nail – it all counts as nail art.
There are several different ways to create nail art designs at home. One of the more traditional ways is investing in some professional brushes and painting the designs on freehand. Another way to do it is to use stencils to ensure your patterns are uniform.
Nail art designs don’t always need to be painted. On-trend looks can be created with stickers, stamps and jewels, as well as more difficult design techniques such as 3D sculpting.
If you’re a nail art beginner, it’s best to stick to the basics. For those of you who feel more adventurous there are some impressive looking nail art design ideas below that are surprisingly simple to create.
Whether you choose to embellish your fingernails or add some twinkle to your toes, nail art can be for everyone.
Before you decide what kind of nail art look you want to achieve, do a little research. Create a Pinterest board with all your favourite nail art styles to inspire you. Next you need to check what tools you need to create your final look. Do you need to invest in more brushes? Have you got the tools to give yourself a professional manicure? Will the nail art design work well with your nail length?
Once you've checked your equipment and narrowed down the nail art designs, it’s time to finalise your idea and apply!
What Are Some Quick Nail Art Tips/Ideas?
Spotty nails are one of the easiest designs to pull off. They can be done in a uniform formation, randomly or just a single dot on each nail to add drama and intrigue.
Dots are one of the easiest nail art trends to apply at home. While a precision brush will work well, there are such things as dotting tools. These dotting tools are created with a handle (much like a brush) with a small metal ball on one end.
They’re incredibly easy to use, just dip the dotting tool in the nail polish and dot on the nail in the desired locations.
Another simple but effective nail art design is stripes on your nails. These can be horizon, vertical or diagonal, and either one, a few or many will work.
If you have a steady hand, you may want to go for lots of stripes to create an eye-catching finish. Use a striping brush dipped in your desired colour polish and drag it across your nail in smooth notion for a slick stripe.
If you’re planning on creating stripes in a few colours of gel nail polish, it’s best to cure each layer of stripes before moving onto the next colour.
Floral Nail Art
There are a few different ways to create floral nail art. One of the easiest ways is to use the dotting tool for a quick and easy flower.
Start with the petals and dot the gel nail polish in a flower shape, then cure it. Next, use a different colour to create a dot for the centre of the flower.
For a more advanced method, use a precision brush to create the petal shapes, adding more pressure for a wider outer edge of the petal. After curing the petal layer, use the dotting tool to create the flower’s centre.
If painting nail art on your own nails just isn’t something you’re up to, you don’t need to give up the idea of adorned nails after all.
Jewels for nails can be used as part of nail art designs, or in their own right on a freshly painted set of nails.
Diamante style jewels often come with their own adhesive on their back, but it helps to add a touch of nail glue for a sturdier stick.
Other jewels are a flatter design and can be added to a gel manicure before the coloured layer has been cured, then sealed in with a topcoat.
For an impressive design that doesn’t require a lot of skill or precision, consider trying a swirl pattern. All you need for a swirl is a cured gel coat as the base colour and one or two other colours to create the pattern.
The secret is to put a blob of one colour gel on your nail, and while it’s still wet, add another colour two on top. Then use a dotting tool, fine brush or even a toothpick and wiggle through the colours, creating a swirl effect. Don’t forget to cure it and add a topcoat to finish.
Leopard print patterns are deceptively easy. Because they’re not uniform in shape and instead entirely unsymmetrical, an approximation of the shape will do.
Use a small precisions brush and a darker coloured nail polish to create a rough and wonky ‘C’ shape. Once that layer is cured, pick a lighter colour to create a splodge in the middle (or slightly off centre) of the ‘C’.
You could use black and brown with a beige background for a traditional leopard print design or clashing bright shades on a light background for something a little funkier. This is a great style that doesn’t require a steady hand.
If you don’t trust yourself to create a neat, symmetrical design when it’s time to paint with your non-dominant hand, a drip design is another fab nail art choice.
Paint the entire nail with your preferred colour then cure it ready for the drip. The colour of the drip can either be darker or lighter than the base colour, but for it to show up well, it needs to be an opaque formula. Anything translucent will be hard to see.
Once you’ve got your drip colour ready, use a precision brush to paint lines running down from the tip of your nail towards the centre.
Are Nail Art And Nail Stickers The Same?
Nail art and nail stickers technically fall under the general category of nail art, but both are very different. Nail art in its truest sense involves carefully hand painted designs using specialist brushes and tools. While nail stickers are printed pictures and patterns made to be stuck to painted nails.
Both hand painted nail art and nail art stickers can look amazing on a manicure but buying pre-made stickers rules out some of the creativity that comes with hand painting designs.
There are a few different types of nail art stickers available. Nail wraps have been increasing in popularity over the past few years. They are a special type of sticker that is designed to create an ‘instant manicure’. Essentially, they’re a pre-painted sticker that covers the whole of your nail. These can be made out of a variety of materials, and some can be used alongside gel nail polish.
Other types of stickers can range from small or large self-adhesive pictures or patterns, decals, sequins, 3D shapes, and jewels. All of these can be used alongside regular or gel nail polish.
Hand painted nail art and nail stickers can be (and often are) used together. A carefully placed nail sticker can enhance the manicurists freehand art. Sometimes these stickers can look like a seamless part of the manicure, especially if the hand painted nail art expands the design the sticker provides.
Stickers can also be used as a finishing touch for painted nail art. A jewel as the centre of a hand painted flower, or a small star atop a hand painted Christmas tree are popular designs that incorporate both types of nail art.
Is Nail Art Dangerous?
Nail art in itself isn’t dangerous, but manicures in general can come with some risk. If you’re having your nails done at a salon, hygiene should be the most important thing for them and you. Infections can spread by cross contamination if tools are shared without being sanitized. Nails can harbour fungal infections and the person suffering may spread it without knowing.
When completing a manicure at home, the risk is minimized as you know whether your equipment is clean. It’s important to clean your home manicure equipment after use, even if you’re the only one using it.
In some cases, a person can have an allergic reaction to the nail products being used, but it’s unlikely. There are also products on the market now that are less likely to cause allergies, such as HEMA-free gel polish.
Providing you’re careful with the prep, painting and removal of the nail polish, it’s a very low risk beauty treatment.
In conclusion, nail art is a fantastic way to add even more glamour to your manicure. If you love the way that nail art looks but not the price tag at a salon, some looks are easy to create at home.
All you really need to create stunning nail art designs at home is the right equipment and some good quality nail polish.