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Elizabeth Monson of the blog moveSlightly
While everyone loves a good spa mani, there's a lot to be said in favor of the do-it-yourself variety. The spontaneity for one thing—no scheduling, no waiting—and the chance to play around with creative ideas, for another (just ask the technician at your corner salon to recreate the pattern from Proenza Schoulers' Fall 2012 mini skirt on your nails, and see what she says about that.)
But while the upsides are numerous, there is one big downside: At some point, you're going to have to use your non-dominant hand to get the job done. And as that can get somewhat messy, we've enlisted nail-art black belt Elizabeth Monson to give us a hand with this one (heh). Below, her guide to getting awesome at-home nail art, left hand included.
Without a doubt the hardest thing about a successful nail art project is getting consistency across both hands. Being naturally right handed, I can paint my left without a problem; but when it comes to using my left hand to paint my right, things can get messy. After a lot of practice I’ve come up with a few ways to ensure an even application.
Photos by Mark Iantosca
1. Start with the right tools. The wide brush that comes in a nail polish bottle isn’t ideal for most nail art projects. I like to work with nail polish pens that have a fine metal tip and can also be unscrewed and used as a brush. The brand I use is Migi, which sells a wide variety of colors.
Another trick I learned from the fantastic nail artist Sophie Harris-Greenslade is to buy a thin nail polish bottle and replace the polish with nail polish remover. That way you can use the thin brush with any of your own colors rather than being restricted to the one that you bought.
2. Choose a design that allows for some creative expression. Unless you are ambidextrous, I don’t recommend choosing a design that requires a lot of precision. The benefit of something like a set of flowers is that nature isn’t perfect and you can fix mistakes by editing your design on the go. Below are two examples of designs that always work well.
Step 1: Paint a thick line of dots with your nail polish brush at the tip of your nail, almost like a French manicure. To paint a dot, just dab the brush on the nail at a 45 degree angle.
Step 2: Paint thick dots from the tip to halfway to the nail bed using the nail polish brush. Dots should be randomly spaced out.
Step 3: Take your thin polish brush and dip it in your color of choice. Paint thin dots from where you left off until approximately your nail bed.
Step 4: Let dry completely then cover with a shiny topcoat.
**Tip: Using a light color like Essie’s Geranium used here not only helps conceal mistakes; it is a more office-appropriate take on nail art, if that is a concern.
Step 1: Randomly space dots on your nails using a nail polish pen. These dots will be your flowers’ centers and will act as a guide for where you place your petals. Vary the numbers of flowers on each finger and place them in different positions. Making each finger unique makes your design look more complex, but it is actually much easier and leaves more room for error.
Step 2: Using the color of your choice, place petals around the center of the flower. The easiest way to make a petal is to make a dot with the pen and sort of flick the polish towards the center of the flower. That creates the teardrop shape.
Step 3: Continue on the rest of the flowers with different colors.
Step 4: Additional details can be added, like multiple colors on the petals, seeds, stems, etc. if you are feeling confident.
Step 5: Let all colors dry completely then finish with a shiny topcoat.
**Tip: I find it helps to draw your first few lines with the nail polish pen on a piece of paper—it helps you get used to the consistency of that particular color and helps deal with any air bubbles in the pen.
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