Columnist Meghan White offers instructions for how to get creative with nail art.
I am not really one for doing a full face of makeup everyday. Frankly, I am much more likely to wear jeans and a T-shirt than I am to dress up, but I would be hard pressed to tell you the last time I didn’t have nail polish on. While I have a strong preference for tacky nail art – and by preference I mean extreme weakness for tacky nail art – I can class it up when need be.
Having nail polish on makes me feel like my look is complete. That sounds sort of trite and horrible, but really is true. As if I don’t spend enough “me” time with myself anyway, taking a half an hour or so out of my week to make my nails all pretty gives me some alone time. It also allows me to zone out and reflect on all the things that I should be doing instead of painting my nails. This list generally consists of paper writing and thinking, “oh god why didn’t I use the bathroom before painting my nails?”
Now, I’m also not one to go out and have my nails done at a salon, and frankly on a college budget, doing so with any frequency is somewhat cost prohibitive. So I have an ever-growing collection of nail polish and an ever-growing list of techniques to try out.
I still have yet to get to the level where I don’t smudge my nails. And they’re generally chipped two days later – a problem made worse by the fact that I love picking at my nail polish. But I do try really hard to not wreck a pretty set of nails.
I’m going to share three nail techniques. The first requires some special equipment, and the other two use objects you may already have around the house.
The first technique is called stamping.
I originally heard about it while spending too many hours watching beauty gurus do their thing on YouTube. The brand version I first heard of was Konad, though I use generic supplies myself. More recently, if you’re into watching horrible television like I am, you’re likely to have seen “As Seen On TV” spot for a similar product. Like all good infomercials, the ad involves middle aged women who were all incapable of putting nail art onto their fingers until this product came along.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy into it, but look into a few products first. I purchased my supplies more or less in bulk. That, coupled with watching a few videos on YouTube, and I was good to go the first time I started stamping my nails.
For this technique you’ll need:
– Nail art plate – laser en
graved plate from your
choice of manufacturer
– Nail stamper
– Base coat and nail polish
– Special nail stamping pol
ish – while not entirely nec
essary, this kind of polish is
more viscous and generally
results in a better image
– Top coat – I can’t stress the
importance of a good top
coat enough – my personal
choice is Seche Vite Dry
Fast top coat.
1. Apply a base coat and optional nail color to your nails. Let this dry completely. We’re not just talking a level of dryness when the polish is not sticky, make sure it’s completely dry.
2. Once dry, put the special polish onto the desired engraved image on plate, and immediately scrape off the excess.
3. Roll the stamper onto the image, then roll the image onto your nail. Repeat for as many designs and nails as you want. This part can take some practice, but once you get good at it, it will go quickly.
4. Wait until dry and then apply a top coat. This part is crucial because if you don’t put on a top coat your design will probably come off the first time you wash your hands.
5. Admire your handiwork and accept any compliments graciously.
The second technique is a quick way to achieve half-moon nails. It is much faster than free-handing the same design, and often achieves a much cleaner effect. Half-moon nails are sort of a reverse on French manicures. Instead of the tip of the nail being the only part being painted, most of the nail is painted except for the lunula, which is the lightish bit at the base of your nails. This technique can also be done with a colored base coat on the nails for a two-toned look.
– Base coat
– One or two colors of nail
– Paper reinforcements –
yes, those stickers you put
on hole punched paper
– Top coat
1. Apply a clear base coat to your nails. After it dries you have the option of painting your nails a color but if you do make sure your nails are completely dry before moving onto the next step.
2. Cut reinforcements in half and apply to your nails, obscuring the lunula. Yes, stick it onto your nail, and make sure that you press down around the edges.
3. Paint the exposed portion of your nail, from the reinforcement to the tip.
4. Once dry, remove the reinforcement and apply your top coat.
The third technique is for scalloped trim nails. I recently learned this technique and have deemed it perfectly dainty for spring. While it can be a bit more time consuming than the other techniques, the result is pretty adorable without being over the top.
– Two colors of nail polish
– Straight sewing pin with a
– Scrap paper
– Top coat
1. Apply your base coat and then your base color. Wait to dry between layers. There’s a lot of waiting to dry with nail polish – sorry.
2. Put a drop of your scallop color onto the scrap piece of paper. Don’t put out too much, or else it will dry before you can use it. I also suggest that this color be darker than the base color.
3. Quickly dip the head of the pin into the scallop color, then stamp it onto the tip of your nail. This will create a dot. Stamp another dot next to the first, and continue across the tips of all of your nails.
4. Fill in any missed space on the tips of your nails with the polish brush, creating a scalloped effect.
5. Wait until dry – this may take a bit longer than usual as the scallop trim polish is likely a little thicker. Apply your top coat.
Meghan White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.