Forget what Pinterest and YouTube tutorials tried to convince you because, for many of us, doing nail-art at home is fucking hard. You can barely swipe on a singular shade of polish without getting it all over my cuticles, let alone free-hand any sort of nail-art design.
Buying nail-art tools to use at home never seemed viable, either. I always figured there was no use investing in dotting tools and all those brushes if I didn’t have the skill level to use them successfully at home. So, at a nail-art impasse, I starting experimenting with simple looks that I could pull off with random stuff lying around my house. Beauty communities on the Internet have nail-design hacks using just about everything you can think of: floss, mascara wands, tape, plastic bags… the list goes on. If you’ve tried some of these so-called hacks, I don’t even have to tell you that plenty of them are either hard to use or just a flat-out scam.
Still, there are a few key items that can get the job done without depleting my energy or paycheck. Even Gina Edwards and Miss Pop, both long-time nail artists whose work you’ve definitely seen in magazines and on runways, let their professional tools rest sometimes in favor of a DIY hack. In fact, Miss Pop even used a paper towel to create a textured look during the most recent Milan Fashion Week.
Here are some home tools which you can use on your nails for a perfect nail art.
You can and turn it into a makeshift dotting tool. You can dip one of its beaded ends into your nail polish bottle until it’s lightly coated, then use that to gently place polish onto your nail dot by dot.
You can place dots all over the nail for a semi-even pattern like the one I created, but don’t let the traditional idea of polka dots stifle your ideas of other ways to use a pin. You could go the minimal route and place a line of dots just along your nail beds or across the tips. You even could use several bobby pins and dip them all in different colors for the nail-art equivalent of confetti cake.
Hole Reinforcement Stickers:
You know those donut-shaped stickers you used to use in school to repair your hole-punched paper when it ripped and fell out of your binder? Turns out those little stickies are a very valuable nail-art tool. You might already have some lying around if you are or live with a student, otherwise, you can pick them up for a few bucks at your local office supply store.
To create these neon tips, I started with a set of neutral-colored press-ons by Kiss but you can totally use your bare, natural nails as a base or paint them a different color first. I laid one sticker across each nail near the very top, trying my best to make all the spacing even before painting the tips with two coats of lime-green nail polish by MiniLuxe. Before the second coat dried down, I used tweezers to pull off the stickers as smoothly as possible.
Here’s where things get kind of messy but very, very fun. A toothpick and any combination of nail polishes provide endless ways to make a marbled design like the one I created above with OPI’s Big Apple Red and Black Onyx. My absurdly gothic look required just three steps: paint a thick coat of red on one side of the nail, paint a thick coat of black on the other, and drag the tip of the toothpick back and forth through the polish until it all warped together.
Again, there’s no cut-and-dry rule for using this tool. You can place the pick in the middle of the nail polish and circle it outward for a hypnotic swirl, or drag polish vertically instead of horizontally as I did. Using two shades makes the process and little faster, but there’s really no limit to the number of colors you can combine with this method.