If you're looking for nail art inspiration, look no further
We’ll always accept something from Cartier and we certainly won’t say no to a Chanel black quilted caviar double flap bag. But sometimes the best accessory to have is just a set of jaw-dropping nails. If you think about how often you use your hands, it seems almost impolite to not adorn them with some form of nail art, bling or a fly design.
There’s something to suit everyone too. From the loud and proud pop art prints to the more demure patterns that focus on silhouettes and texture rather than graphics. And all shapes and lengths are considered – even short nails. Want your nails to look elongated? Try adding a strip of colour just down the centre.
You can play around with shapes too. These days nail artists are using gel extensions to create everything from longer nails and glass nails to legit cartoon figurines. As the saying goes, the world is your oyster, all you need to have is the best nail art kit to get you started and some inspiration from the best nail art designs out there.
Your nail art kit check list
Nail file. Buff away any small tears before starting and create your ideal shape.
Nail polish correcting pen. Because you don’t want to have to take off your whole design to fix a small problem.
Nail polish remover. You need one that will take off glitter. Look for an acetone base, but remember to always follow up with a nourishing oil or serum afterwards, to give back what you’ve taken away.
Nail repair serum and oil. If you want your nails to stay healthy and look pretty, you need to regularly feed them the nutrients they need.
Dotter tool. This creates the perfect round dot and comes in varied sizes, so you can mix it up.
Striper brush. Regular nail polish brushes are too thick to create intricate designs, so you need this in your kit for more delicate painting.
Striping tape. A thin metallic tape that can be used to create designs or as a type of ruler to keep lines straight.
Transfer foils. When applied over the top of nail varnish, it literally transfers to give that worn metallic finish.
Loose glitter. Because party nails aren’t party nails without glitter.
3D embellishments. From studs to actual flowers, anything goes.
Matte top coat. This will let you have double the number of shades in your kit.
Nail polish. Keep adding to your collection!
How to become a nail artist
Want to make a career out of nail art? Step forward Revlon’s new Global Nail stylist, Chelsea King, who turned her passion for nail art into a thriving career. After finding a few basic nail art tutorials online, she tried it out for herself and the rest is, as they say, history. We sat down with Chelsea to find out everything you need to know about the art of nails, whether you’re a budding nail artist or fully-fledged pro.
What sort of nail art designs should budding artists start out with?
Flowers are a good start. They can be very simple until you get the hang of it and then work to make them more intricate.
What are the easiest colour combinations to try when you’re just starting out?
Black and white is classic and always looks cool no matter what you do with the design.
What should every nail artist carry in their kit?
The basics for me are cuticle oil, topcoat, nude polish and a fun, bright feature colour. Nail buffer, cuticle nippers and a brush to clean up the sides are also great to keep in your kit.
For nail artists who are hoping to do session work for fashion week, what advice do you have for them?
Build up your social media months before. Seek out and follow key players in nail art on social media. A lot of them will post on their channels when they need help – so be sure to jump on that opportunity. Once backstage, be quick, confident and flexible whilst staying calm. And it doesn’t hurt to bring your own stool!
How can nail artists use social media to expand their audience/client base?
Utilising hashtags is a must for social media, especially Instagram. You also need to post often and constantly be aware of other trends so you can be the first to jump on any new ones. For example, the day Instagram changed its logo, I immediately created a nail look inspired by the logo. I was sure everyone would be doing it, but I was among the first. Everyone kept commenting on how fast I was to get them done.
What’s the most challenging thing about being a nail artist?
Being on set and being invisible but still helpful. You’re constantly in the way of the make-up artist and hair stylists so you need to learn how to work around them to do your job, without getting in the way of them doing theirs!
What nail shades do you think will be big for summer?
Neons. Start with a nude base and either add a bright French tip or use a make-up sponge to create a gradient from nude to neon.
Pop art nails will catch anyone’s attention. Think bold colours and cartoon-like designs.
If you want work-friendly nail art, try something simple like a solid base colour with a metallic stripe.
Colour themes are a fun way of playing around with different graphics that work well together.
Sometimes the best designs are inspired by things you’re familiar with, like branding.
Aztec designs look intricate, but are actually quite easy to do. Draw your plan on a piece of paper beforehand to make it easier.
Checkered designs look easy, but they’re actually quite hard to do, especially if you want them to be uniform. Use a striping brush to draw a grid first and then fill in every second square.
Characters from your childhood are always a fun way to brighten up your nails.
‘Feature’ nails are a popular way of creating something eye catching without having to go through the trouble of doing something intricate on each nail.
Take inspiration from everything around you, even fabric prints.
Sometimes simple designs with a lot of colour is all you need to create something attention grabbing.
Camouflage prints are quite easy to create, making them a great design for first timers.
When you’re feeling up to it, try something intricate in detail and play around with your designs.
Keep in mind that nail art doesn’t mean you have to paint every nail with a design.
Any shape on a nail is considered nail art, so play around with abstracts too.
Don’t underestimate the power of a smiley face 🙂
For a uniform look with a twist, use similar colours, but play around with your design.