Nailed It Salon

Basic Starburst Nail Art Tutorial

Today we're going to spice up our color blended polish with some very basic nail art.  This technique is a little more difficult than what we did yesterday, but it's still very easy, and I'd venture to guess that anyone reading this can paint their own nails using this technique and have them turn out well.  If you're not sure, just practice a few times on a piece of paper before you start your nails.  You'll be painting like a pro in no time!






Step One: Prep

Prep your nails, and Paint them.


Step Two: Silver Glitter



Load your brush up with silver glitter polish (in this picture I'm using a Nail Art Polish).  Start at any corner of your nail and press down with the tip of the brush.  Draw the brush out across your nail, lessening the downward pressure as you go.




Repeat to create a silver V shape.


Step Three: White Stripes

Load your Brush with White Polish.




In this step I'm using white nail polish (Hot Topic Brand - I love these polishes for nail art, but not for painting nails!) and a nail art brush so you can see the difference.  To load the brush with polish, place a drop on a piece of scrap paper, and dip your brush in it until the bristles are covered about 2/3 of the way up.  You can also thin the polish if necessary by dipping the brush in acetone before dipping it in the polish. 




Using the same stroke method as you did with the silver polish, Draw three stripes of white radiating from the same corner as the silver.




You should now have a design that resembles a a starburst shooting from the corner of your nail.


Step Four: Clean

Clean your brushes in a dappen dish filled with acetone before the polish dries.


Step Five: Dots



Place a new drop of white polish on your scrap paper if the old one has begun to dry or thicken.


Dip your dotting tool into the polish, covering about half of the ball at the end, but not submerging it completely (completely covering the dotter ball will produce dots that are uneven).  Or, if using a toothpick, dip one end into the polish.




Starting at the base of your starburst, place a dot of polish along the side of your nail plate by pressing down gently (try not to touch the ball to your nail as this will result in a dimple in the middle of your dot).  Without dipping back into the polish, keep dotting until you have a line of dots that follows your starburst.


As you use up the polish on the tool, the dots will become increasingly smaller. 

If necessary, dip your tool in the polish once more and re-dot the entire line to fill in any dips, or smooth out uneven dots.  Don't try to touch up a single dot, as it will increase the size of the dot and give you an uneven line.


Step Six: Top Coat

Seal your nail art after it's dried with a good quality top coat.  Clean off your dotting tool with acetone, and admire your work!


IMG_2009  IMG_2010

Click to see a larger picture.

That's it! You've officially created your own, beautifully hand-painted nail art!  Now make sure your husband takes you out for dinner so you don't ruin all of your hard work doing the dishes!




Color Blend Tutorial

Now that we have all of the boring stuff out of the way, it's time to have some fun! 


I'm going to show you a flashy way to paint your nails that anyone can do, and I mean anyone.  You don't have to be ambidextrous or a contortionist to get great results with this technique.



Don't forget, you can click on any picture to see a larger version.


You will need:

  • Tape or Horseshoe Nail Forms (available at Sally's Beauty)
  • Base and Top Coat
  • Scissors
  • White Nail Polish
  • Cosmetic Wedges
  • Two or More Colors of Nail Polish
  • Acetone Nail Polish Remover
  • Sable Clean Up Brush, or Cotton Swabs
  • Dappen Dish, or Small Glass Dish


Step One: Prep

Prep your nails, and paint them with a good quality base coat (CND Sticky is da bomb).


Step Two: White Polish

Coat each nail that you will be color blending with white polish (I'm just doing an accent on my ring finger, so that's the only one I painted white).  The white polish creates an opaque base, and allows your colors to pop with fewer coats.




One thin coat will do, it doesn't matter if it's blotchy or doesn't cover your nail completely.


Allow your nails to dry completely before moving on to the next step.  I recommend waiting at least thirty minutes to give the polish enough time to cure all the way through.


Step Three: Mask Your Nails

Use tape or nail forms to mask off all of the skin around your nails.  This step isn't completely necessary, but will save you a lot of clean up time, and give your nails a neater appearance when you're done.  Personally, I prefer using the nail forms because they're already contoured to fit a fingernail, but if you prefer not to spend the money, tape works just as well.




I cut my form into three pieces to help it conform to my fingernail.




The top of the horseshoe fits across the eponychium, and covers a small margin of nail at the base of the nail plate. 




The sides of the horseshoe are placed along the sides of the nail, again covering a small margin of the nail plate, and tucked under the free edge of the nail.


Tape will work in a similar fashion, though you may need to use your scissors to create a custom fit.


Step Four: Load the Wedge



Place a drop of each of your nail polish colors right next to one another on the edge of the cosmetic wedge.  When choosing your colors it's important to remember that the colors will blend together.  So, for example, yellow and red polishes will create a a band of orange between them.  Remember to choose colors that will blend into something pretty, or you may end up with muddy brown nails.


Step Five: Start Sponging

Dab the wedge across your nail in the direction you want your blend to follow. 




You can blend either horizontally or vertically for different looks.

Step Six: Reload and Repeat

Allow your first coat to dry for a couple of minutes, and then reload your wedge with fresh polish, being sure to place each color in the location where it was placed before.  Then, line your sponge up with your previous color application, and dab on a second coat.


I've found that with the white base coat, two coats of color are usually enough for complete coverage.  However, depending on the quality of the polishes you use, you may need a third coat.



Once you are satisfied with how it looks, remove the mask from your nail.

Step Seven: Clean Up

Pour a little acetone nail polish remover into a small glass dish (acetone will melt many plastics, so glass is recommended.  You can purchase glass dappen dishes from Sally's for around $1).  Dip a sable nail brush (available from Amazon) or a cotton swab into the acetone, and clean any stray polish from your skin.



Step Eight: Save the Wedge

You can reuse your cosmetic wedge many times, by simply cutting off the used portion.



Step Nine: Top Coat and Admire

Paint your nails with a good quality top coat (Seche Vite) to protect them from chipping and scratching, then stand back and admire your work.


IMG_2010  Header



Tomorrow I'll show you how to add an easy hand painted design to your color blended nails to make them really pop.  People won't believe you did it yourself!




Nail Prep

Shhh, don't tell anyone, but I'm going to let you in on a few secrets.  You don't need me to polish your nails.  Shhh!!!!!!  Keep your voice down or they'll kick me out of the awesome nail tech club!!!

I think most people already know that they don't have to pay someone to paint their nails, you can easily do it at home.  Professional paint jobs tend to last a little longer, and look a little neater, but probably not enough to justify the price for most women. 


Now, I'm a realistic professional.  I became interested in nails because of my desire to save some money doing my own.  I don't really expect you to lavish me with cash for something I wasn't willing to spend money on not so long ago.  Come to me when you want to be pampered with pretty smelling soaks, scrubs, masques, and massages, then fee free to paint your nails on your own between salon visits.  I promise I won't cry or yell. 


On and off I'll be posting some tutorials here to help you spruce up your hands and feet between mani's and pedi's, and to help you keep a few dollars in your pocket.  However, the most important part of any thing you do is preparation, and your nails are no exception.  So today we'll go over the basics of nail prep, which is the foundation of any good nail service.  If you want your polish to last longer than it usually would, nail prep is the key.


The first thing you need to do is gather your supplies.



You will need:

  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Cuticle Sticks, or a Cuticle Pusher
  • Cuticle Nippers
  • Nail Wipes or Cosmetic Pads (no cotton balls!)
  • Cuticle Remover
  • Cuticle Oil
  • Alcohol or Nail Dehydrator

Edit: I've been informed by my proof reader (AKA my husband John) that I need to define a term I use a lot within this post.  The Nail Plate.  The nail plate is just a technical way of saying fingernail.  The nail plate is the hard material (keratin) that is found on your fingertip (also referred to as the nail bed).

Step One: Remove Old Polish

Use nail polish remover and nail wipes to take off any old polish remaining on your nails.  Do not use cotton balls!  Spend the extra dollar and get something that won't leave little fibers all over your nails.  No matter how much time you spend picking them off, you won't get them all, and they will mar your paint job later on.


For polishes that are stubborn, like reds, blacks, and glitters, soak a nail wipe thoroughly, and hold it to your nail for a minute or so before wiping the polish away.  If a little pigment remains, repeat with a clean pad soaked in remover.

You can file your nails now if necessary, but do not buff the nail plate, not even if you have ridges on your nails (instead use a good quality ridge filler like Ridge Out by CND).  Buffing removes layers of your nail, and can thin and damage your nail plate.  Occasionally a very light buffing is necessary, but should be left to a qualified nail technician.  Always use the fine side of an emery board to file your nails, never the coarse side, and file from the outside of the nail towards the center; don't see-saw back and forth.  This will prevent your nail from flaking and splitting later on.


Step Two: Remove Cuticle

Before we get started on this step, I want to clear something up.  Cuticle is NOT the band of tissue at the base of your nail.  That is called the eponychium, and is living tissue that should be treated with care.  Cuticle is a film of dead tissue that grows out from under the eponychium to cover the nail plate.  Cuticle can become detached from the nail plate, and will cause your polish to lift and peel, so removing it is an important step if you want your polish to last.

You can soak your nails in a bit of warm soapy water to make this step a little easier.  However, don't soak for more than three minutes please.  If you do, the water will soak into your nails, and cause your nail plate to expand.  When it contracts a few hours after you've polished your nails, your pretty polish will begin to chip and crack.  So set a timer if you need to, or keep a close eye on the clock. 


Now, take your cuticle remover and place a dollop at the base of each of your nails.  Then, spread it across your entire nail with your cuticle stick.



Let it sit for as long as the manufacturer recommends, and then begin to scrape the dead tissue off your nail plate with your cuticle stick.


(sorry for the blurry pic, I haven't figured out my camera's timer yet)

While you're scraping off the dead tissue, very gently push the eponychium back if necessary.  My eponychium will grow over my nail if I let it, while my husband's always stays in a nice little line at the bottom of his nails.  If yours is like his, leave it alone; if it's like mine, be as gentle as you can to avoid damaging the nail matrix which is located directly underneath that area.


Once you have removed your cuticle, and pushed back your eponychium, wash your hands to remove the cuticle remover.  This is important as many removers have a mild acid in them that will continue to eat at your nail if not washed off.  Dry your hands with a soft towel, and while you're drying use the towel to gently push against your eponychium to set it into place.


Use the cuticle nippers to nip off any remaining cuticle tissue on your nail plate.  Do not cut your eponychium!  It's living tissue, and can bleed and become infected, which could damage your nail matrix.  Feel free to skip the nipping if it's not necessary, or your hands are not steady.


Step Three: Apply Cuticle Oil.

I highly recommend CND's Solar Oil as a top quality cuticle oil.  This stuff is like liquid gold for your nails and should be applied daily, right over polish or enhancements, to strengthen and condition your nails and surrounding skin.  Daily oil is really the key to beautiful, healthy nails and skin!


If you can't get your hands on Solar Oil, other oils are available at Sally's or your local make-up counter, and will work, though not as good.


Apply the oil to the base of your nail, being sure to cover the eponychium.  Massage it into your nails and surrounding skin, and then let it sit for a minute before moving onto the next step.


Step Four: Clean the Nail Plate

The last step is to clean and dehydrate the nail.  I know you just put oil on there, and it seems silly to take it back off, but the oil should have penetrated down into the nail by now, and we're just taking off the little bit that's left on top so that the polish has a nice clean surface to stick to.


Take your alcohol, or nail dehydrator if you have it on hand, wet a nail wipe with it, and scrub your nail.  Scrub hard; scrub like you're trying to remove tar that your husband tracked onto your clean kitchen floor with his nasty work boots. 


You should now have a clean, slightly dull looking, fingernail that's ready to be polished!


Step Five: Polish

A while back I made a quick video that will give you the basics on how to polish your nails.  Note: In this video I refer to the eponychium as the cuticle.  This is the first and last time you will hear or see me do this on my blog, as I don't ever want you to confuse the two.  It's an important distinction, and  you should know the difference.


I still recommend CND's Sticky basecoat, and my all time favorite top coat is Seche Vite.  I've also added Zoya Polishes to my list of favorite colors.  You won't be disappointed in any of those products!


Now go add some color to the world and pretty up those pinkies!



Nailed It!
333 Main Street
Racine, WI 53405
Phone: 262-633-1555