Professional nail art brushes allow you to give yourself a salon standard nail art manicure at home. The only trouble is, if you haven’t had any tuition, you might not know how to use them.
You probably think “how hard can it be?” as nail art brushes tend to look pretty self-explanatory – and to some extent, they are.
At first glance you can guess that the thinner brushes are for more detailed work and the bigger brushes are for broader strokes, but some brushes have very specific skills.
By learning how to use your nail art kit, you can get a lot more out of it.
Each type of brush is best suited to a certain design feature. This means although you can probably gain alright results by using the wrong type of brush, you’ll be able to get excellent results by using the correct one.
The best way to design professional nail art at home is to “brush up” on how to use you nail art kit.
How to Design Professional Looking Nail Art
Designing professional looking nail art might not be as easy as you think. There are millions of different nail art designs out there, and some are much easier to do than others.
As a rule, using gel nail polish is the best medium to work in. This is because you’re not waiting around for each layer to dry – you just cure it with a UV lamp and move on to the next part of the design.
By using gel nail polish to create professional nail art manicures, you minimise the risk of smudging the end result. Of course, no nail art is immune to smudges, but the gel is only at a risk of smudging before it is cured. Smudging a manicure happens to the best of us and with gel, it’s easy to clean up before you cure it for the finished result.
When it comes to designing the nail art you plan on doing, it’s best to look at other people’s nails for inspiration. Pinterest and Instagram are great places to find ideas.
Once you’ve decided on the style you’re after, it’s time to do a little bit of studying. Take a closer look at the nail art you admire and check what sort of shapes make it up. Is it made up of dots? Are there are lot of lines?
Break down the design into the shapes that feature and that should clue you in to which brushes you’ll need to recreate it.
How to Use Professional Nail Art Brushes
Professional nail art brushes are easy to use, they just require a bit of knowledge and a lot of practice.
Each brush has a purpose, so make sure you know what each brush does best before you start.
Dotting Tool – This tool is very self-explanatory; the dotting tool makes dots. Usually there is more than one size option, so you can create a variety of dots. The dotting tool is perfect for making designs that feature spots, such as polka dots or even flowers.
Striping Brush – Sometimes known as a liner brush, this is the one you use for more delicate designs. It’s a thin brush head with longish bristles. The bristles come in a variety of lengths from very long to quite short and each length achieves a different look. The shorter bristles allow more movement for intricate designs, which the longer bristles make great straight or wavy lines.
Detailing Brush – This is another very thin bristle brush that is quite similar to the liner/striping brush but has much shorter bristles. The shorter bristles allow for better detailing in the designs.
Flat Brush – The flat brush has all its bristles finish in a flat row and looks almost oblong at the end. It helps to great long, fluid strokes on the nail, giving a lovely smooth finish if you want a beautiful base.
Angled Brush – This looks a bit like the flat brush the but the bristles finish at an angle. This is great for one-stroke designs such as single-stroke flowers.
How to Care for Nail Art Brushes
Just like all manicure tools, nail art brushes need to be cleaned after every use. This isn’t just for hygiene reasons (although that is very important), it’s to help prolong the life of your brushes. The better you care for your brushes, the longer they’ll last before needing to be replaced.
Start by gently wiping away any gel remaining on the brush. This is best done in a motion that wipes down with the bristles. You don’t want to damage the fibres of the brush, so don’t scrub, or vigorously rub it. Gentle motions only!
If you’re working in gel, it’s best to clean the brushes with gel brush cleaners. Soak the brush in the cleanser for the recommended amount of time, then wipe off the excess, shape the bristles and leave to air dry.
You might want to avoid acetone, as certain materials don’t react well to it. Have a quick look at the ingredients of your cleanser just to be sure.
Most cleansers will leave your brushes hygienically clean. If you like to be extra sure, you can use an alcohol spray designed for brushes to give them a quick once over before using them again.
Freehand Nail Art Designs You Can Do Yourself
Now you know what type of nail polish to use, how to use your nail art kit and how to care for your nail art brushes, it’s time to give it a try!
Below are some professional nail art designs to help inspire you. If you’re an absolute novice, you might want to try a different style on each nail to get in the practice.
Most of these nail designs aren’t too taxing for beginners. This means you’ll be able to walk away with a professional looking manicure that you did yourself at home!
Spotty dotty nails are always a popular look. There are so many ways to incorporate spots into your nail design, but polka dots are a good place to start. Apply a base coat, followed by a nail colour covering your full nail. Once your background colour is sorted, grab your dotting tool, and apply spots to your nail in gel nail polish. Cure the spots layer and finish with a topcoat.
Another hot favourite is striped nails. This look is often extra popular at Christmas because red and white stripes nails look like candy canes! Use your striping brush to add long, straight stripes to your nail. This can be done on top of a base colour to tie in a manicure, or on top of a clear base coat to add a little intrigue.
Wavey Lines & Swirls
Once you’ve mastered stripes, wavey lines and swirls are a fun next step. Use a striping brush with slightly shorter bristles and wiggle your arm slowly as you pull across the nail. This will give you nails a nice wavy finish.
Rainy Day Nails
Rainy day nails are a cute way to create nail art when you’re really not confident at it. First, paint all your nails dark blue or grey like a rainy sky. Next, pick a nail to paint a brolly on. This might seem daunting but all you need to do is use the natural curve your nail has near your cuticle for the top of the brolly and drag that colour halfway down. Cure the umbrella colour, then use your detail brush to paint on the spokes of the umbrella and the handles, and voila! The umbrella is finished.
On the rest of your nails use grey or silver with the detail brush to create
Checks are very similar to stripes, in fact, they are just two sets of stripes! Once you’ve got your base sorted, paint vertical stripes up your nails. Cure the vertical stripes and then paint horizontal stripes across your nails over them, cure and add a topcoat. If you’re feeling funky, you can always add a second colour.
Heart nail art is one of those things that seems complicated but it easier than it looks. To create hearts, all you have to do is use your dotting tool to make two dots next to one another, then grab your detailing brush to drag the excess gel into a “v” shape. Once you’ve done that, all you need to do is spread the gel to fill in the gap you’ve just created in the middle.
Another design that seems quite technical but once you break it down to shapes it uses, you’ll see that it isn’t. If you’re a pro at using a dotting tool, then strawberry nails should be easy. You need a red background colour and yellow for the seeds.
Just paint the whole nail red, cure it, add the yellow seeds with the dotting tool, cure it, and finish with a little dash of green on top for the stem.
Watermelon nail art requires a slightly higher skill level since it has several components and colours. You don’t have to commit to every nail being a watermelon slice (see picture for inspo) but you need at least one on each hand to tie in the theme.
A red, or reddish pink is the best background for the flesh of a watermelon. Two shades of green – one light, one dark (and maybe a white) – are needed for the rind and you’ll need a black for the seeds. If you’re still a novice, you might want to leave your seeds as the natural shape the dotting tool gives you, but if you’re feeling pretty professional, you’ll need a detailing brush on hand to drag the dots into teardrop shapes.