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The secret to using tape in nail art

Watch the runways and red carpets of 2013, and you’ll see nail art everywhere. Getting salon manicures can get expensive, but recreating the look at home is easier than you may think. We consulted the experts and got some great tips!

Nail art using tape

Photo credit: Kara Endres

Try Scotch tape

Nail expert and Custom Nail Solutions President Katie Saxton has the inside intel on tape strip manis. According to Katie, the secret to using tape in nail art is to start off with two different-colored polishes and Scotch tape: “In my experience, Scotch tape is the easiest to use. Paint your nails with a coat of colored polish and wait for it to dry completely before placing the tape on it. You must wait for the coat of nail polish to dry or else it will be pulled off when you take the tape off.”

Katie continues: “Once the coat of polish is dry, place tape on the first nail in whatever design you please, and paint over the nail and tape with a coat of the second polish. Pull off the tape right away while the polish is still wet to ensure that your design is sharp and has clean edges. Let the polish dry completely, and then add a clear top coat to complete the look.”

Nail artist Shannon Sullivan has another trick up her sleeves. She uses thin layers of polish so they can dry sufficiently before you use the tape. “It’s basic, easy and works,” she says. When placing the shapes or strips of tape on the nails, gently press them down to remove any air bubbles or bumps. Make sure to leave extra in order to easily remove. Painting over the tape can be a lot easier if you use a sponging method. It keeps the polish from being too thick and creates a really cool finished look. You can always do multiple layers if you want a darker tone. Give the polish a minute or two to dry and gently remove the tape. Finish with a layer of top coat. Be creative and enjoy!

Top coat

“A girl’s best friend in this case is a fast dry top coat!” says Chelsy Murphy aka “Freshie” of Many companies offer a fast-dry top coat that seals all of the layers from top to bottom in a minute or less. Chelsy recommends a few more minutes because tape can be more challenging.

It’s also best to tape a fresh strip to your hand first to take away some of the tackiness. Another fun trick? Many nail art aficionados buy fun craft scissors with squiggles or waves and cut tape for creative nail art. Blue painting tape is also fantastic because it is meant to be less tacky than a Scotch or clear type.

Oil before you toil

Athena Solomon, owner of A Beautiful Day Salon in Southfield, Michigan, has a unique method for her nail art. Athena’s method may be time-consuming, but it will prevent polish smudges and scratches.

Depending on the design, Athena applies the desired color of choice, allows one minute of air drying, dips the nail in cold water for one minute (this helps speed up the drying process) and then applies a thin coat of Vaseline before applying tape. This process ensures that polish will not smudge or peel off each layer of polish design. It removes easily and effortlessly and helps create the desired design.

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