Nail designs are fun and fashionable ways to show off your favorite things and style without going crazy with your wardrobe. Although many people find nail art appealing, they often fear they lack the ability to create their own nail art designs.
I’m here to tell you, that isn’t so! Once you have learned the basics of nail design you too can create amazing fun designs that will amaze others.
When it comes to nail design there are just a few things you need to have and know to create beautiful art; nail art tools of the trade, how to create circles, how to create lines, taping methods, stencil methods, and where to look for more inspiration.
Combine all of that with patience and plenty of practice and you are on your way to being a nail design artist!
Nail Strengthening Polish
I strongly recommend using a nail hardening or calcium nail polish as your base coat when painting your nails because it will keep them healthy, strong, and unstained.
When starting out it really isn’t necessary to buy the big brand nail polishes. Once you have decided that nail design is something you enjoy, you may want to invest in quality polishes once you’re comfortable. In the beginning, just look for deals at beauty supply stores, pharmacies, accessory shops, and your favorite clothing stores. A lot of the time you can find nice polishes. This is how I first built up my collection and really got started on nail design.
I think of it this way. If you wanted to start painting, but had never painted before and weren’t even sure if you would be very good at it, you probably wouldn’t go to a professional art supply store and buy the highest quality paints and supplies you could find. You shouldn’t do this because (1) you might end up wasting your money if it turns out you don’t like painting and (2) you really have no idea what you’re looking for and you can’t trust the sales people, because obviously they want you to spend the most money.
Same thing goes for nail polish. When you first start out you’re not going to be able to tell the difference between a cheap nail polish and a brand name polish–and no one else is going to know what you used, so why waste your money? Wait until you have some experience and can form your own opinions about what you should be looking for before you invest too much.
Getting Started: Preparing Your Hands & Nails
If you have any nail polish from your last design, remove that first.
File Your Nails
If you want to clip your nails first, then do that, but I usually go right into filing. It is best to keep your nails rounded, rather than squared, or at least round the edges of your nails. This will prevent your nails from breaking. That is because points and corners are weak points, but round objects have no corners or points, so therefore have no weak points. Makes you wonder why we don’t have round buildings, doesn’t it?
Push Back You Cuticles
Do not cut your cuticles! Cuticles are necessary to protect your body from bacteria. When you cut them, you risk getting an infection. Cuticles are as necessary as your eyelids and gums.
If you are prone to hang nails, drink more water, keep your hands moisturized, and try taking a multivitamin daily to improve the health of your skin, hair, nails, and teeth.
How you shape your cuticles is really up to you. I like to try and keep the sides thin and straight and push the bottom down to make my nails look longer and thinner.
Buffer Your Nails
This isn’t entirely necessary, but with a soft nail buffer you can rub your nails down and smooth out any nicks or bumps. I really wouldn’t suggest doing this too much or too often though, because it will thin out your nails. Just do it as needed to keep your nails smooth
Decide Your Nail Art Design
You can go into your nail art design blind, but you may not like what you end up with. It has been my experience that the best designs are ones that have been planned out long before any nail polish hits the nail.
If you aren’t sure what you would like your design to be you could go for something abstract or just think about things that you like or make you happy. Your design can reflect your mood, the seasons, a holiday or event that’s coming up, something you’re excited about (like going to the movie or beach), your pet, or anything really.
One thing I do when I’m really stumped is just pick out the colors I really want to use first and then create a design that will incorporate all of them nicely. Typically these designs are wild and abstract, but they usually make me very happy.
Once you’ve done some nail art designs a couple of times you may notice yourself wanting to repeat favorites. In this case of course you don’t have to redesign it every time because you already know what it looks like and how to do it. I only suggest drawing out designs and planning first when it is a new design you are unfamiliar with.
Draw Your Design
On a scrap piece of paper draw little nail shapes then draw what you’d `like your design to look like. Keep things simple as possible. You don’t need a lot of intricate details to have a successful design.
Test Out Your Design
This isn’t entirely necessary, but I find it helpful when I’m not sure how certain colors will work together. Once you’ve decided on your design, redraw it a few times on your scrap piece of paper and apply polish directly to the design to see how it will look. Adjust your design as needed and practice a few times so you will be comfortable enough to apply it to your nail without a drawing to guide you.
If you are concerned that you will only be able to paint your nails on one hand and not the other used this as an opportunity to practice with your non-dominate hand
Nail Stickers & Decorations
There are lots of great ways to add art to your nails that don’t require much art skill. There are so many nail stickers, stamps, pens, tapes, decals, decorations, and gems that you can apply to your nails that if you really can’t get the hang of nail art designs, it’s ok! With all your options you can Still create awesome nail designs!
Since there Is so much, I’m going to do my best to remember everything, but I apologize if I forget! If you know of something that isn’t listed here, please feel free to remind me in the comments below.
Nail Stickers – These are by far the easiest ways to create great nail art. You can find them at beauty supply stores and all over the web. In the past I’ve even used tiny stationary stickers. There are also special stripe tapes for nails that you can use, or any tape you like really. All you do is stick them on and seal them with a clear top coat.
Alternatively, you can create your own by using a bit of clear nail polish to glue cutouts or tiny drawings on to your nails. Again, seal it with a clear top coat and you’re good to go.
Another way to create your own nail stickers is to paint on tape (scotch tape for a more transparent look and painters tape for something more solid). Then you can cut out any shapes you want and apply to your nails.
Nail Art Transfer Sheets – These are kind of like stickers, except they are typically an entire texture or design that you apply to your nail. This way you know all of your nails are going to look exactly the same.
You can make your own transfers by applying temporary tattoos to your nails or pressing printed paper (from comic books, newspapers, books, maps, or whatever you like) on to your nails after dipping it in alcohol. Then go over the design with a clear top coat to protect it.
Nail Decals & 3-D Decorations – These are kind of like stickers, except they aren’t usually sticky and are typically more 3-Dimensional. I’ve seen tiny bows, keys, fruit slices, animals, candy, cupcakes, and more. These are typically applied with some nail glue and may or may not be sealed off with a top coat depending on how big it is. There are also special acrylic paints that let you create your own 3-D art.
You can find these at some beauty supply stores or you could use tiny little decals found at craft stores. Polymer clay canes are also extremely popular for these.
Get creative. If it’s small enough to fit on your nail, you could probably stick it on there. Try decoupage or other art techniques to create unique nail designs. Typically, if you can seal whatever you’ve done with a clear top coat (which you should do anyway to protect your art) you can add almost anything to your nails.
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