Today marks the first of a new series of posts and tutorials on Glowstars.net: Nail Art 101. I will admit that I can’t remember the last time I wore a polish with no art; I usually aim for some kind of pattern or design on my nails and even if I’m feeling particularly lazy I’ll still end up with something simple like a brightly coloured French tip or a gradient.
Unfortunately you’ll have to endure a few posts before we get to the tutorials, but it’s important to understand the tools and materials available to you. While I’m sure most of the lacquerheads reading already have a few nail art brushes and dotting tools lying around, even the hardcore nail addicts might discover something they’ve never thought of before.
I had thought of photographing my messy (and in some cases dying) kit but I’m completely incapable of product photography. Instead I’ll show you what the pieces look like brand new and tell you some of the best places I’ve found to get them.
So then, let’s go.
I seem to pick up new nail art brushes like kids get new toys from their grandparents. I wasn’t content with two of the standard sets like those in the Nail Art 101 logo so I set out to find some more to my liking. Not that I don’t use my original brushes anymore, but I tend to find they’re not quite right for a lot of tasks.
My favourite nail art brushes are the tiny acrylic nail art brushes from Banggood (£0.90) and the bamboo pen from Born Pretty Store ($1.95). The tiny art brushes are great for most things but especially when trying to line with glitter polishes as the glitter just flows from the brush. I love the bamboo pen too but it’s better used with acrylic paint as it can’t quite cope with having polish removed from its bristles. I’m already on my second bamboo pen as I keep losing the bristles when wiping polish from them.
Another tool which I absolutely love is a fountain pen. Yes, you heard me right. A fountain pen (£3.37, Banggood). I picked this up when I was looking for 3D art supplies and haven’t looked back. It doesn’t work particularly well with polish as you can’t pick up much on the nib and it tends to start drying before you get it on the nail but it’s fabulous with acrylic paint, especially when watered down, and can produce some amazingly good lines.
Dotting tools (£1.48, Banggood) are also an essential. Other than their obvious use in dotticures, I use the larger heads to help draw more accurate circles than I could with a brush. They’re my preferred tool for applying rhinestones (dab the head on your topcoat brush for best control of the stones) and useful for moving 3D pieces through wet polish when you’ve not quite got them lined up right.
Depending on what you’re using for your nail art, you may need to start cutting away at loose ends from nail lace, striping tape or the like. I’ve tried scissors but for cutting up close to the free edge of the nail you can’t beat a good pair of cuticle nippers (£3.59 + VAT, Capital Hair & Beauty).
Other useful items include tweezers (to pick up especially large 3D embellishments or to pick fluff out of wet polish when your favourite jumpers sheds!), make-up sponges and palettes (if you’re going to work with acrylic paint).
Once you’ve assembled all your lovely tools you’ll need something to keep them clean. I’ve found that acetone, while excellent at cleaning, dries out the bristles on brushes. I’ve used surgical spirit in the past but now favour Nail Harmony Cleanser which I also keep in my nail tech kit. I put Cleanse on to lint free nail pads to avoid wastage as it’s certainly not as cheap as acetone.
Hopefully I’ve given you a few ideas for adding to your nail art kit (and you’ll remind me if I’ve forgotten anything). Join me again next week when I’ll be talking about good polishes to use for nail art.