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My (Not So) Successful Nail Art Adventures

It’s extremely obvious that I’m no expert on nail art. If you’re anything like me, you see these fantastic nail designs and tutorials everywhere and think, “How is this even possible?” They raise our expectations to impossible, unattainable heights. However, I like to give things my best shot, so I set out on a mission to try out some new nail ideas to update my manicure. Disclaimer: I didn’t have some of the supplies needed to successfully do some of these ideas – I used things I found around my dorm and house. Enjoy!

1. Small Hand-Drawn Designs

While this does take a steady hand and patience, the result is not impossible. I would recommend sticking to a design that’s tiny and easy to draw with both your dominant and non-dominant hand because the result should look at least similar on both hands. Use a toothpick or something like that to dab out your design, and make sure you practice it somewhere before you put it on your finger. Here’s a picture of a music note my friend did for me over the summer!

2. The Chevron

I put an initial coat on my nails to start. To create the v-shape, I used scotch tape (not one of my best ideas) to stick onto my nail, and painted a second color in the places on my nail where the tape didn’t cover. But because I have zero patience, I didn’t let the paint dry long enough underneath and it ripped up some of the initial coat! But I managed to paint over that enough to make the chevron look somewhat decent. Not too shabby for my first time doing this, but I recommend letting the paint dry completely before moving on to subsequent steps.

3. The Half Moon

I practiced my free-handing on this idea, and the result actually looked pretty cool! The design ended up looking more like triangles than half-moons, but I think that creating triangles is easier than trying to creating the curvature of a half-moon, and because my painting skills are subpar I stuck to just creating triangles instead. I used pretty bright colors, but I think if someone were to do this with pastels, it would look super professional and perfect for an interview for a job or internship.

4. The Gradient/Ombre Nail

I didn’t have a makeup sponge on me, so I ended up using a paper towel, which worked out really well to my surprise. You have to repaint your gradient a couple of times and roll/dab the colors onto your nail to get the desired effect. It’s also a little messy – almost my entire thumb was pink when I was done – so just prepare for that with lots of nail polish remover. The end result was a little rough looking since the paint wasn’t as flat or as smooth as I was expecting. So I filled in some of the missing spots with more color. If I were to do this again, I probably would paint my nail white first so the colors would pop out a little more, but other than that, it’s relatively easy to do.

5. The Diamond-Studded Nail

If you explore your local drugstore, you’ll probably find rhinestones that are made specifically for your nail. I got a pack of three different kinds with silver rhinestones, gray rhinestones, and silver/gold metallic plates. The rhinestones will probably come with an applicator stick that can help get the rhinestone onto your finger. If it doesn’t (or if you lost the applicator like yours truly) your finger can work just as well. Just make sure you wait until the paint dries completely and put a clear coat on top so the rhinestones will stick!

6. The Marble Nail

The tutorials for this nail idea seem super straight forward, but the process is definitely more complicated than it seems. I feel like for this idea to really work, you need high quality nail polishes and lots of time on your hands. Personally, I feel like spending $8 and up for a small bottle of nail polish is a little ridiculous, so I used different polishes of different qualities and brands (OPI, Wet Shine, and Funky Fingers). And, my theory was right – the most expensive of the polishes worked the best when it was dropped into the water. I used a toothpick to try and create that trademark “zig zag” design, but the paints kind of swirled together instead, which looked promising, but to no avail. It looked awful on my finger, and it was a pain to clean up in the end. 10/10 WOULD NOT RECOMMEND.

7. The Nail Sticker

If you’ve just about given up on nail polish and are looking for a quick and easy way to cover your nails sleekly and smoothly, then I recommend nail stickers. They come in many different sizes, colors and designs. The best part about them? No chipping and no smudging! You can have all these great designs at your (or, should I say ON your) fingertips easily and relatively cheaply. They peel off just like stickers, and all you have to do it line it up with the curve of your skin around your nail, stick and smooth down to get rid of air bubbles. Then you take a nail file to cut the excess sticker off, paint over with a clear coat, and you’re done! I found these cute candy corn stickers last semester, and these were my nails for Halloween this year!

After all of these trials, I’m glad to say I’ve got a new repertoire of ideas for my nails in the future under my belt. To my fellow Collegiettes and future nail experts here’s to easy nail ideas and fast-drying nail polish!

All photos are the author’s.

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