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Nail Tutorials: Leopard Print!

Before jumping in, I’d like to say a few things about this blog. I’m a fan of quick and simple manicures that only look complicated. As you girls know, there’s not much time to spare between classes and extra-curriculars at CMU, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take care of ourselves! This blog is for the gals who want their nails to look great without too much extra effort.

Painting your Nails 101

Let’s start at the basics: you should know how to paint your nails correctly before trying any nail art. You’re probably sitting there rolling your eyes, but you’d be surprised at how many girls do this WRONG!

Without further ado, here are 5 guidelines to make sure you have a great base for your nail art:

1) Take care of your nails. Remove old polish, trim and file your nails, and moisturize and push back your cuticles.

2) Use a flat surface. This one seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve seen girls try to paint their nails lying down or upside-down! Working over something flat and sturdy keeps both hands from shaking, which means even coats (and less nail polish all over your fingers).

3) Always use a base coat! If you skip on this step, you may end up with stained nails. To make it stick, brush some nail polish remover over your nails first.

4) Make your coats thin. You will have to use 2 or 3 coats this way, but the last thing you want is to use one thick coat that dents and smudges as you make your designs.

5) Let your nails dry completely between each coat. Your nails will never dry if you keep piling on more nail polish!

There you have it! Follow these guidelines, and your nails will be ready for nail art. Now on to the fun stuff!

Leopard Nails

Show off your wild side with these leopard-print nails! They may look complicated, but with a little practice they’re super quick and easy.

What you’ll need:

  • Nail polish: a base color, an accent color, and black. I used Sephora by OPI in XOX Betsey (a light pinky-nude), Sinful Colors in Forget Now, and Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Black Out.
  • A dotting tool (you can also use a toothpick, the tip of a pen or pencil, or a cuticle stick)
  • A scrap piece of paper or cardboard. I used a post-it for this tutorial.

How to do it:

1) Start with your base color (typically a neutral), and let it dry. Be sure to follow the steps above for a applying a great base!

2) Dab on some spots with your accent color. For a realistic look, you want your spots to be different sizes and shapes, and you want to scatter them around your nail. Let dry.

3) Take your black nail polish and put a couple of drops onto your scrap paper. You’ll be dipping your dotting tool into this to finish the spots.

4) Using your dotting tool, carefully outline your colored spots. I typically make parenthesis around the larger spots and half circles around the smaller ones, and I make them face different directions. It’s ok for these to look a little messy!

5) Go back with your dotting tool and put small black spots in some of the blank areas.

Let it dry and add a topcoat to seal it in! As you practice this design, feel free to play with different colors. Here are a couple of other leopard nails I’ve done:

Colleen is a Creative Writing and Professional Writing double major at Carnegie Mellon University, and will be graduating in May 2014. She is currently the Director of Social Media for Her Campus CMU, and partakes in a handful of other organizations on campus. When she's not writing, she's probably reading or spending time with her residents as an RA in a freshman dorm.
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