When trying nail art for the first time, do a test run of polish on a piece of paper. This will ensure that dots are actually round and stripes line up just right. Or come up with your own design!
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Fun DIY Nail Art Ideas
Polish to perfection with fun nail art ideas and tips from celebrity manicurists.
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Clean nail with a swipe of rubbing alcohol, then press on sticker. File away any excess.
Revlon Nail Art 3D Jewel Appliques Wild Flowers in Hyper Floral, $10
Apply two coats of denim polish. Place studs with tweezers while lacquer is wet. Skip top coat.
Ciate Denim Manicure Kit, $18
All Lined Up
Paint nail with light pink shade. Using nail art polishes in complementary colors, draw lines vertically, starting at bottom of nail.
Salon Perfect in Silver Plated and Purple Petal, $3 each
Butter London in Fruit Machine, $15
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Coat entire nail with light metallic hue. To make the rounded shape, brush darker shade from left side to center and then from right side to center. Paint up to tip as normal.
Revlon Nail Art Expressionist in Silhouette, $9
Swipe on two coats of peach color. Pour aqua polish into a shallow dish. To create dots, flatten the end of a toothpick, dip it into dish, then dab onto nail. Alternate with shimmery blue.
Sally Hansen in Peach of Cake, $8
Duri in Pie in the Sky Green, $6
Hard Candy in Crush on Caribbean, $4
Create a cool, feathery effect with two complementary shades—one glossy solid and one textured.
Estee Lauder in Coral Cult, $20
Nails Inc. Feathers in Cornwall, $9.50
Balls of Fun
Apply two coats of emerald color. Pour balls into small dish. While wet, press nail flat into bowl, allowing balls to attach firmly.
Ciate Emerald Manicure Kit, $30
Tip to Try
Paint on orange color, then make an evenly rounded tip by swiping pink brush from left corner to center, and then from the right edge to center.
Dermelect 'ME' in Head Turner, $14
Pure Ice in Speechless, $2
Matte About You
Start with a dark glossy color. Draw horizontal stripes across nail with a clear matte polish to add dimension.
Jin Soon in Blue Iris, $18
OPI Matte Top Coat, $9
A glittery gold with gritty texture transforms your nails into little gems.
OPI Liquid Sand in Honey Ryder, $9
Celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann shares her secrets for a perfect mani-pedi.
Smooth out edges. File from each outside edge toward the center of the nail. Never "saw" back and forth—this can cause tears. Avoid a super-square shape, which makes fingers appear shorter.
Don't cut cuticles. Apply a cuticle remover liberally (we love Sephora's, $12) on fingers and push back skin with a wooden manicure stick. If there are hangnails, it's okay to snip with a cuticle clipper.
Take your time. Apply base coat, two thin layers of color and a top coat. Wait at least one minute between each. To seal color, be sure to completely cover the tip of the nail when applying each coat.
Fix chips fast. Put remover on the pad of your index finger and smooth out ridge where smudge is. Let dry, and dab polish on chip. Wait 30 seconds to a minute, then apply a top coat over entire nail.
Protect from the elements. Beach sand is abrasive and can dull polish. Create a barrier by applying an extra layer of top coat. Chlorine can make nails more prone to breakage, so be sure to moisturize after swimming.
Clockwise from left: Maybelline New York Color Show in Fierce N Tangy, $4. Orly in Mayhem Mentality, $8.50. Mary Kay in Pink Bamboo, $9. Essie in The More The Merrier, $8. Jin Soon in Poppy Blue, $18.
Originally published in the August 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.