Nail Art

Dedicated to the infinite joys of nail art and design: handpaint, airbrush, colored acrylics and gels.

 

The Art of Buying Nail Art Brushes

You can save time and money in the long run buying good brushes and maintaining them properly.

These are the most commonly used nail art brushes:

DETAIL BRUSH: This is the most popular nail art for creating hand-painted designs, with a detail brush, you can make anything from the fine lines of a pumpkin to the red and white of a candy canes.

SUPER STRIPER: This brush has five bristles that are 1 ½ - 2 inches long. You use it in lieu of striping tape for making straight lines; it is excellent for making geometrical designs.

MINI STRIPER / LINER. The liner is the same as the super striper except that the liner’s bristles are less than one inch long. Nail technicians find the mini striper easier to control because it has shorter bristles.

FLAT BRUSH. The bristles on a flat brush are wider than the bristles on a striper brush. The bristles have been cut straight across, rather than to point. The flat brush is used for painting backgrounds or flat surfaces such as the base of the nail. Miniature flat brushes are smaller in size and are used for shading and double dipping.

FAN BRUSH: This brush is used for abstract watercolor designs. The fan brush is widen than the flat brush and is used to painting clouds, shadows, and trees. The bristles are spread out like an oriental fan.

Nail art brushes come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and there’s one for every nail art technique and design imaginable! You can find nail art brushes in beauty shop supply stores, art supply stores, or craft shops. The key to a smart purchase lies in knowing what kind of nail design you want to do and finding the brush that will create the effect you want. There are a few things you should know about brushes in general.

BUYING THE RIGHT BRUSH

You can buy two types of nail art brushes natural and synthetic. Natural brushes have bristles of animal hair. The bristles on a natural brush vary in texture according to the type of animal the bristles came from. For example, bristles made of horse hair are firmer than sable. The sable is the best quality natural brush you can buy, say brush experts.

Synthetic brushes have bristles made of manmade hair that tends to fray easily, as opposed to the bristles on a sable brush that have a longer life span. The bristles on a synthetic brush are stiffer than the bristles on a sable brush. Many technicians find easier to use the sable, which has softer bristles, experts say. Synthetic brushes tend to fall apart or split in half after a few uses. Sable brushes, it well cared for, can last years.

One of the most important features to consider when evaluating a brush is the point. The sharper the point, the better. Having a sharp point is especially important if you do a lot of fine detail painting. Some nail technicians customize their brushes by cutting off the bristles, leaving just one or two hairs to create an extremely sharp point. Rounded brushes allow you to create a soft edge. The flat brush is angled, which allows you to create a ribbon-like effect by painting in a downward twisting motion. Other brushes are squared and used for painting flat surfaces. You’ll have to experiment with several brushes to see what works best for you.

NAIL ARTISTS’ FAVORITE BRUSHES

DETAIL BRUSH. This is the most popular nail art for creating hand-painted designs. With a detail brush, you can make anything from the fine lines of a pumpkin to the red and white of a candy canes.

SUPER STRIPER. This brush has five bristles that are 1 ½ - 2 inches long. You use it in lines of striping tape for making straight lines; it is excellent for making geometrical designs.

MINI STRIPER / LINER. The liner is the same as the super striper except that the liner’s bristles are less than one inch long. Nail technicians find the mini striper easier to control because it has shorter bristles.

FLAT BRUSH. The bristles on a flat brush are wider than the bristles on a striper brush. The bristles have been cut straight across, rather than to point. The flat brush is used for painting backgrounds or flat surfaces such as the base of the nail. Miniature flat brushes are smaller in size and are used for shading and double dipping.

FAN BRUSH. This brush is used for abstract watercolor designs. The fan brush is widen than the flat brush and is used to painting clouds, shadows, and trees. The bristles are spread out like an oriental fan.

Dotter. Not exactly a brush, the dotter is a piece of metal with a ball on each end used for making small dots.

This list encompasses only a few of the nail art brushes available on the market; however, top nail artists say these brushes are their most frequently used. Learn all you can about the brushes and decide which brushes suit your needs best. The next step is learning how to care for your brushes and how to make them last.

BRUSH MAINTENANCE

If you take good care of your art supplies they will last a long time, says Traci Suggs, owner of Great Lengths in Columbus, Ohio. Never use a nail art brush to apply nail polish or enamel, and don’t clean nail art brushes with acetone, which can destroy the bristles. Use brushes made especially for nail enamel to polish the nails; use nail art brushes to paint with water base acrylic paint or water colors. Never use oil based acrylic paint because it takes days to dry. Water based acrylic paint or watercolors dry within minutes. When changing colors, rinse the brush out immediately (If you’re cleaning the brushes, try washing the bristles with shampoo, which is a good conditioner.)

Never leave your brush soaking in a cup of water with the bristles facing downward because they will bend. Just move the brush back and forth in the water. Don’t sweep the bottom of the cup with the brush to get the paint out, advises Sandra Calderon, who teaches beginning and advance nail art classes both for distributors and privately. Calderon, owner of Fingerprints Salon in Wauwatosa, Wis., explains that bending the brush will break the bristles.

Acrylic paint is more difficult to get out than watercolors, so you’ll have to leave the brush in water longer if you’re using acrylic paint. When the brushes are clean, dry the bristles with a paper towel. Don’t wipe your brush on a terry cloth towel if you’re using acrylic paint. The paint won’t come out once it dries on the towel. Many nail technicians have destroyed salon towels with acrylic paint. Save yourself the trouble and use disposable towels for brush cleaning.

Store the brushes by laying them flat in a closed container of by standing them up with the bristles facing upward. If you make a mistake and store the brushes with the bristles facing downward, you can revive them by wetting the bristles, rolling them in a paper towel, and letting them dry flat.

If your beginning nail artist, invest in approximately 10 good quality nail art brushes of different sizes and types. Experiment with them, paint several designs and see what you can create with different brushes. Customize your brush by trimming or shaping the bristles. See what works and what doesn’t. In time, you will develop a style that’s all your own.

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