Nail Art

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


The Ultimate Bridal Nail

Brides have a lot to stress about on their wedding day — why not alleviate some of that worry by working with her to create the perfect set of bridal nails. These seven designs can be customized to match her wedding colors, flowers, or theme, and let her get some stellar photos with her new ring.

“When I think about a bride, she has to look like a princess and her nails should be gentle, delicate, and beautiful. That’s why I choose this pink-and-white combination, including, of course, flowers that remind me of weddings.” — Lyudmyla Kulyniy, The Bucks County School of Beauty Culture, Philadelphia

1. Apply white gel to the free edge, not extending quite out to the tip. Add silver glitter to the very tip. Cure.
2. Apply pink glitter gel to the rest of the nail. Cure.
3. Use white acrylic to create two roses along one side.
4. Use white acrylic to add several leaves along the same side. Use pink acrylic to accent. Add two clear rhinestones and one pink rhinestone. Apply UV top coat. Cure.  


“I’m a Florida girl, so I got my inspiration from lovely corals and  greens and from the beautiful tropical wedding bouquets popular in the Sunshine State. Cascading bouquets are so popular this season, so I want to incorporate this trend as well.” — Naomi Gonzalez, Le Petit Nails, Sanford, Fla.

1. Apply CND Shellac UV Base Coat. Cure for 10 seconds. Apply a coat of CND Shellac Tutti Frutti. Cure for two minutes. Apply a second coat of Tutti Frutti. Cure for two minutes.
2. Add one coat of CND Shellac Iced Coral. Before curing, use an art brush or marbleizing tool to create a texturized look. (Using Iced Coral on Tutti Frutti will create a greenish hue.) Cure for two minutes.
3. Add one coat of CND Shellac Mother of Pearl. Cure for two minutes. Apply CND Shellac UV Top Coat. Cure for two minutes, then remove the inhibition layer.
4. Use opaque white acrylic to create a heart-shaped anthurium in the middle of the nail and smaller orchids surrounding the nail plate. Apply half petals on the free edge and a tiny flower near the eponychium.
5. Use opaque green acrylic to start creating palm leaves around the flowers. Use opaque purple acrylic to create some small violets.
6. Use opaque orange acrylic to create two partial hibiscus flowers. Highlight the flower centers with opaque yellow acrylic. (Optional: Blend the yellow acrylic with sheer glitter first.)
7. Use opaque white acrylic to create cascading orchids near the side fold of the nail plate to the free edge. Highlight any remaining flower centers in opaque purple acrylic powder. Sweep on several opaque purple acrylic petals. Fill in remaining spaces with purple acrylic violets, opaque green acrylic palm leaves, opaque white acrylic orchids, and opaque orange acrylic hibiscus.

“I chose this design because it’s feminine with its large flower and pink acrylic (instead of plain white tips). These nails stand out from a distance with all of the glitter and jewels.” — Jade Sewell, Just Nails, Great Falls, Mont.

1. Swirl sparkly hot pink acrylic and sparkly white acrylic together on the free edge to create a marbleized French. Before the acrylic dries, use your brush to add silver glitter.
2. Add sparkly clear acrylic to the rest of the nail, slightly covering the free edge to cover the glitter so it doesn’t file off.
3. Along the side of the nail, add rhinestones in a variety of sizes.
4. Add a 3-D flower decal to a corner of the free edge. Apply a UV top coat, making sure it covers the rhinestones and the flower. Cure.  

Photography by Kelly Bracken

More Info on Creating the Perfect Nail Look

Kanika Ashford of The Nail Therapist in Oakland, Calif., made several versions of her client Maggie Simpson's wedding nails before Maggie's big day. Ashford came up with this design to complement the wedding's burgandy and black Victorian theme.
<p>Kanika Ashford of The Nail Therapist in Oakland, Calif., made several versions of her client Maggie Simpson's wedding nails before Maggie's big day. Ashford came up with this design to complement the wedding's burgandy and black Victorian theme.</p>

Brides generally assume that they’ll do a hair and make-up trial before the wedding day, and, as a nail tech, you can increase your bridal client appeal by offering a bridal package that includes a nail consultation. Alica Best, owner of Upscale Nail Bar in Griffin, Ga., offers a bridal package priced at $40 that includes a pre-wedding consultation, three nail designs (shown on tips) to choose from, and touch-up service. After the look is chosen the bride is charged the fee for the actual nail service. “The bridal fee helps to cover the cost of time, products, and design time for special requests. Brides have the option of paying for just the service instead, but as a bride the one-on-one attention is great for a special event.” Best ­offers the bride a discount if the bridal party also books nail services at the salon.

Nail tech Robin Moses in Florence, Ore., also sets up a consultation with either the bride or the maid-of-honor. She chooses not to charge extra for it, explaining: “It only takes me five to 15 minutes, and it saves me tons of time when everything is ready in advance.” Moses sets aside an envelope for each bride, in which she adds color swatches, theme-related photos, and sometimes a sketch of the design (especially for the ring finger) on a sticky note.

If you’re the only nail tech in the salon, you may have trouble accommodating an entire bridal party. Kanika Ashford of The Nail Therapist in Oakland, Calif., came up with a solution in the case of her client Maggie Simpson. “I suggested Maggie come in the week before, and we do her manicure with a full acrylic set, but not paint them yet. Then on her wedding day at the salon, I would paint them and do the designs. That way I could accommodate those in her wedding party who wanted manicures, plus from my experience with brides, I know they get antsy about time on the wedding day, so this way it works out well for both the bride and for me.” Moses says, “I usually take the bride, the maid of honor, and the mother of the bride. The other bridesmaids match my design colors at other salons. I mix their acrylic colors to take with them to the other salon for striping and easier designs.”


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