When it comes to DIY nails, most of us fall into one camp or the other—either you have a crazily steady hand and an insane amount of patience, or your hand seems to shake uncontrollably every time you even look at a bottle of nail polish. If you fall into the latter group, what’s a girl to do? While there’s always the salon, it’s not exactly practical for the collegiette budget. Luckily, there are tons of lazy girl DIY hacks that can turn your at-home manicure from disaster to salon-worthy masterpiece—no matter how much you normally struggle with nail polish. Get ready, because these are serious game-changers.
1. Meet your new BFF: scotch tape
First things first: the secret to Instagram-worthy nail art is probably already located in your desk drawer. When it comes to nail art, scotch tape is everything—it sticks, but is gentle enough to lift easily when you’re finished with your mani masterpiece. Tape it in across your nails for perfectly straight lines in a crisscross or stripe pattern, cut it in little shapes for the perfect nail stencils, or line the edges of your nails to avoid getting polish on your skin—the possibilities are endless!
2. Blow it up
Splatter-painted nails can seem like a bathroom disaster waiting to happen—that is, until you try this life-changing hack. Instead of shaking your brush haphazardly, create splatters by dipping a straw into nail polish and blowing through the other end onto your nail, which is way less messy! Get rid of any stray splatters with polish remover and a pointed-tip cotton swab when finished.
3. Lovely lace
We all lust over lacy nail designs that are seemingly only the work of salon magic, but as it turns out, you can easily get the look at home! For a lace effect, stretch a piece of lace fabric over your nail and dab polish on top with a makeup sponge. When you lift the fabric off you’ll have salon-worthy nails! And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, use mesh (like a piece clipped from an old shower loofah!) to create a snakeskin-esque look.
4. Ditch the brush
Every nail art guru knows that limiting herself to simply a brush is a major mistake. For exact, fine lines and details, try using a fine-tipped gel pen that’s been dipped in polish. For perky polka dots, the rounded end of a bobby pin makes the ultimate dotting tool.
5. Connect the dots
We love a good chevron print, and luckily, it’s super easy to DIY this look on your nails! Instead of trying to draw zig zags directly onto your nails, create dots where each point on your chevron pattern will be, and connect them using straight lines.
6. DIY decals
Love nail decals but hate the super pricey, one-and-done packs you’ve been buying at the drugstore? Believe it or not, it’s crazy easy to make your own! Take a plastic sandwich baggie and outline the shape of your desired decal in white nail polish. Once it’s dry (using a hairdryer on the cool setting can speed up the process), layer a colorful design on top. Repeat the drying process, and when fully dry, your nail decals will peel easily off the plastic bag and can be placed directly onto your nails—just add topcoat to secure them!
7. Sticky situation
Thought you left Elmer’s glue bottles back in Kindergarten? Think again! Elmer’s is a tool that every nail art lover should have on hand. To protect your cuticles from excess polish (or splatters from a splatter paint nail!) just line the edges of your nails with glue prior to your DIY mani and let it dry. Once you’ve finished your last coat of polish, the glue will peel off easily from your skin to reveal a picture-perfect at-home mani job underneath!
8. Easy marble
Marble is another unexpectedly easy pattern to create at home! To achieve the look, you’ll need a small plastic or paper cup filled with water and a few nail polish colors. One by one, carefully pour a few drops of each color you’d like to swirl into the cup—they’ll create a bull’s-eye shape on the surface of the water. Once you’ve added in all of the colors, swirl them with a toothpick to create a marble effect. Then, all you need to do is simply dip your nails into the cup—the polish will stick right to your nail! For mess prevention, be sure to use a little tape or glue around the edges of your nail to keep the colors off of your skin.
9. Simple stripes
Love stripes but don’t have the patience? We feel you! But luckily, there’s a much easier way to get the look that doesn’t involve painting them on one by one. Take a fan makeup brush (the kind you’d usually use on your face!) and dip it lightly in nail polish. When you drag it across the surface of your nail, it’ll create wispy, barely-there stripes that look like they took hours to create.
These hacks prove that just because you’re not exactly the Picasso of nail art doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice killer fingertips! We just hope you’re ready for all the “What salon do you go to?” questions. Happy polishing, collegiettes!