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A nail art tool kit for beginners

Here is your complete nail art beginner’s kit full of everything from supplies found at home to tools you can buy.

Nail preparation

The foundation of any manicure is just as important as the nail art itself. Have a great design, but jagged edges or unsightly cuticles? A big no-no. These are the basic tools you’ll need for nail maintenance.

  • Cotton balls, Q-tips and nail polish remover for preparing the canvas or cleaning up edges. You can also try using an angled eyeliner brush to remove polish in hard-to-reach areas.
  • Nail file, nail clippers and a nail buffer block to trim, shape and smooth the surface.
  • Cuticle oil and/or cuticle cream to soften and moisturize the area around the nail. All that acetone and tape wreaks havoc on cuticles. In a pinch, run to the kitchen and grab some olive oil.

A nail art tool kit for beginners ! -- nail preparation

Paint job

  • Scotch tape, the best way to make shapes, stripes and color blocks. Press tape onto your skin first to take some of the tackiness out before pressing onto your nail. You can also try painter’s tape or washi tape.
  • Tin foil to use as a palette for mixing new colors or dipping brushes or dotting tools.
  • Reinforcement labels used for paper can be repurposed for a moon manicure. Tip guide stickers can not only provide a clean French tip, but can also be used for interesting stripes or anything else you can imagine.
  • Makeup sponges are a great way to give your nails a cool gradient effect. Paint stripes of your favorite colors onto it and then sponge onto nails. While they’re still wet, finish with a top coat to smooth the gradient.
  • Plastic wrap can be scrunched into a ball, painted and then sponged onto nails for a marbled look.
  • Tulle can be held against the nail and painted over to create a fishnet design. You can also get some snake print effects using a paper towel marked with a Sharpie and then transferred onto nails.

A nail art tool kit for beginners ! -- paint job

Decorative embellishments

  • Top coat is a must for finishing a nail design. It seals the artwork and blends layers into one smooth finish.
  • Flocking powder is an interesting texture to apply to nails. Press onto wet polish then lightly brush away the excess to reveal a fun furry nail. Try one solid color or play around with multiple colors and patterns.
  • Small and medium paint brushes are also a must for any nail art practitioner. They let you create sweeping colors or intricate designs.
  • Small ink pad stamps can offer intricate designs or shapes and drinking straws can give you a thin-lined circle or become a splatter painting tool.
  • Loose glitter is always a fabulous finishing touch. Coat the whole nail, do a glitter gradient or enhance one element of your design.
  • Dotting tools are an easy way to add polka dots to a design. They can be purchased inexpensively online or from most beauty stores. In a pinch, use a flat nail head for a large dot, or the flat head of a sewing pin for smaller dots (you can stick the sharp end into an eraser to be safe).
  • Striping tape can be used as a finishing touch or as a method of taping off an area to be painted.
  • Feathers, jewels and mini studs are special touches that will make your design all the more unique.

A nail art tool kit for beginners ! -- decorative embellishment

More nail design tips

Feathered ombre nails inspired by Chanel
4 Nail design tutorials inspired by fashion designers
Chanel-inspired tweed and fur nails

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