It’s easy to become inspired to attempt nail art, whether it’s from browsing nail blogs, watching youtube tutorials, or maybe you suddenly come up with your own design that you would like to try. This may prompt you to whip out your nail polish bottles straight away and start painting. However, even though the design itself may seem straightforward and easy to achieve, people tend to forget that even some of the simplest designs require a lot of patience and planning.
I am talking from experience when I say that there is nothing worse than spending hours on your nails creating a beautiful design, just to smudge the polish off because you didn’t give it enough time to dry before you carried on with your everyday tasks.
Below, I have written a list of all the things I consider or do before I attempt any complicated nail art.
1) Allow yourself time by planning ahead.
If you try to fit your nail art into a two-hour slot before a meeting, appointment, social event, etc, guaranteed it will just end up a disaster. It may seem like the nail art itself won’t take too long, but for some designs, up to 90% of the time it takes is spent on waiting for the polish to dry. This is especially true for designs that require quite a few layers of polish. The longest time I have ever spent painting my nails was five and a half hours! Therefore, it’s best that you plan ahead and choose a time when you don’t have plans, such as a lazy Sunday afternoon. This way you can spend as much time as you like making your nails look flawless.
2) Make sure you have everything you need at hand.
The last thing you want to do half-way through your nail art is to realise you are missing a nail polish colour or a nail art tool. You then run the risk of smudging or ruining what you have done so far by having to go look for it. Before you begin a design, make a checklist of everything you are going to need and lay it all out on the surface you are working on, so that you can pick everything up easily whilst your nails are still wet.
3) Eat before you paint.
It’s also best to start any nail art on a full stomach. You don’t want to spend hours on a complicated design whilst you are feeling hungry. Either it can make you rush the design, or risk ruining it because you have to stop to eat. Also, it may seem like your nails are dry enough for you to be able to snack in-between steps, but you can never be too sure and it’s easier to not take any chances.
4) Invest in a backscratcher.
I have always found that as soon as I have finished applying polish to my nails, I end up with an intense itch either on my face, head, or back; and at times have even used my nail polish bottles to try to scratch with. It is a good idea to invest in a backscratcher so that you can keep it close whilst painting your nails, and use it to relieve the itch without damaging your nail art. Backscratchers can easily be purchased online, such as Amazon, or in some stores on the high-street, and can be as cheap as £1 (approx $1.34).
NOTE: If you don’t have a backscratcher available, take extra care not to use anything to scratch with that could damage your skin and risk causing an infection as a result: This includes pencils, pens, or anything sharp or pointed that could break the skin.
5) Don’t forget to drink.
It’s important that if you are attempting nail art that could take a few hours, that you keep hydrated. I find it best to keep a few bottles of water (or any drink of your choice) nearby so that I can take regular sips. If you are a tea or coffee drinker, ensure that you have easy access to everything you need to prepare your beverage, in order to minimise the chances of you catching your nails on anything.
6) Wear loose clothing.
Following on from tip No. 5, what goes in, must come out. If you are following the advice and keeping hydrated, then without a doubt you are going to need toilet breaks. Holding your bladder can be very bad for you, and puts you at risk of developing a UTI or bladder infection. Therefore, if you need to go, it’s highly recommended that you don’t try to wait until you are at a good stopping point before popping to the toilet. In order to try and avoid ruining your nail art during your toilet breaks, try changing into loose clothing before you start. This can include skirts, or elastic-waisted cotton shorts or trousers, that can easily be pulled down without making contact with your nails. Try to avoid wearing anything with zippers and buttons, such as jeans, as these are almost impossible to undo without smudging wet nail polish.
7) Plan for short breaks.
Practising nail art can be frustrating and tedious, especially when you have been at it for hours. When you are in this situation, it is easy to become impatient and more likely to make mistakes that will cause you to give up altogether. To avoid this scenario, try to plan ahead the times when you will be able to take short breaks to move around comfortably and switch your attention to anything other than your nails. By doing this, you are relieving any strain on your mind and body, and prevent you from starting to feel that nail art is a chore. The best times to take these breaks would be between the steps in your nail design, where you have to wait for the polish to completely dry before moving on, ie before using nail vinyls.
8) Keep yourself entertained.
As I said previously in this post, up to 90% of the time spend doing nail art can be just the drying time. Having to wait so long during these steps can be extremely boring and frustrating. Therefore, I find it best to ensure I always have something available to keep myself entertained that doesn’t involve having to move around. Usually, I just catch up all the TV shows that I have missed the previous week; but if TV isn’t your thing, you could always watch your favourite movies, read a book, or if you are a student, catch up on some studying.
9) Tie up long hair.
I have very long hair, and so I can confirm that it can be extremely frustrating when you finish painting your nails and have your hair fall off your shoulder and land directly onto your wet nail. I even had an experience once where my whole top coat brush got caught up and tangled in my hair! To avoid any similar sticky situations, I advise that if you have long hair you should make sure to tie it back before starting to paint your nails. Similarly, I also recommend that anyone with shorter hair should consider tying their hair back or keeping it out of their faces with an Alice band. This will keep your hair out of your eyes and stop loose strands from tickling your face; both of these can be incredibly annoying when you have wet nails and you are restricted from pushing your hair back from your eyes.
10) Be patient.
Even if you have vigorously taken all of these steps to minimise the chances of ruining your nail art, mistakes still happen. It could be something as simple as a slip of a hand whilst painting, catching your wet nail on a polish bottle, or finishing a design just to accidentally spill a whole bottle of acetone all over your hand (yes, this happened to me). The best thing you can do in these situations is to not get too disheartened, or give up on the design altogether. If you don’t have the time or the willpower to start over again, then just re-paint your nails in a pretty nail polish colour, and go back to that design at a later date.
Also, the saying is true that practice makes perfect. If you are trying a new technique, such as nail stamping or using the sponging method to make gradients, try not to get too frustrated if you don’t perfect it the first time. Most of these nail art methods take time, and a lot of trial-and-error, in order to get the best results.