Nail Art

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

 

The Art of Acrylic Nail Art Designs

Acrylic can be used for more than a classic French or a base for polish. The #notpolish hashtag on Instagram has become a popular way for nail techs to showcase amazing art created solely with acrylic powder. We asked skilled acrylic artists to share some of their favorite designs, tutorials, and acrylic tips.

 Quilted Acrylic With Glitter Inlay

Thao Nguyen, San Diego
@thaoweezy123

 

1. Apply acrylic. “Be sure to apply it thickly enough — I find it much easier to work with than thinner acrylic,” says Nguyen.

2. Make sure to allow enough drying time before you make the indentations. When the acrylic has dried enough to turn matte, use fishing wire to make the indentations.

3. Make all the cuts in one direction first, then add the other cuts in the other direction over the previous ones. Cover your design with a thin layer of glitter.

4. Once the glitter is deposited in the lines, you can lightly file off the excess glitter. Finish it off with top gel or add some line work or 3-D flowers if you like.

Cotton Candy Nails

Katie Binh, Mount Pleasant, Texas
@katiebinh

 

To create the blocking design, start by applying nude pink acrylic close to the cuticle. Wait until it becomes matte, then cut it into a triangle shape using a small knife. If the line doesn’t seem perfect, you can file the edge of the triangle with a hand file to make it straighter (the powder must be completely dry to do this). Apply pink acrylic to the right of the triangle and cut once it becomes matte. The important part is to make sure the left side of the triangle and the left side of the pink acrylic have the same straight line. Because the left side of the triangle is already cut cleanly, it’s easy to place the knife on the edge and keep cutting on the same line. Repeat with yellow acrylic on the left side of the triangle, then continue applying colors on each side until the nail is filled. Don’t worry if the design is messy — once you file it, the blocking design will emerge.

For the 3-D flowers, as with the blocking design, wait for the acrylic to dry enough to be matte before making the shape of the petals.

Acrylic Ombre, Marble, and Encapsulated Rose

Phuong Luu, Jersey City, N.J.
@thenailboss

1. Apply a very thin layer of nude acrylic (or the color of your choice). Add a hint of gold foil to the tip of the nail for a touch of fun.

2. Create rose petals by adding very thin layers of white acrylic.

3. Add petals in a circle from the outside in until the rose is complete.

4. To finish, cap all nails with clear acrylic, file to shape, buff, and apply top gel.

To create an ombre nail, apply a very thin layer of white acrylic, let it set, then apply nude acrylic as if doing a fill.

To marble with acrylic, double-dip two colors with one color on each side of your brush. Marbling is easier if you work really wet and work in sections until the entire nail is covered. Don’t swirl too much — just add as needed.

3-D Turtle

Alecia Mounixay, Wilmington, N.C.
@thewhitekoi

1. Lay a pink acrylic foundation.

2. Add the head, fins/legs, and tail using an oval art brush.

3. Add a flat layer of white acrylic for the base of the body.

4. Add large chunky glitter and cover with clear powder to form the rounded shell.

5. Use a tiny drop of black acrylic for the eyes. Cap with clear top coat on the shell only.

6. Make a small line of white acrylic at an angle and brush down to make waves.

Frozen Ivy

John Nguyen, Mount Pleasant, Texas

@john_n1186

Apply a thin, clear base and sprinkle the ivy colors to create a fade down the nail (colors from #Notpolish Dip-it were used to create this set). Apply a thin layer of clear acrylic then apply shattered glass strips, small glitters, and dried flowers while the layer is still wet. Finish by capping with clear powder.

Netting and Butterflies

Lucy Fell, Suffolk, U.K.
@misslucysnailartist

Netting Design
Start with a thin clear base nail. Apply pink acrylic in one bead, allow it to partly set, and use some netting to make the design. Dip the netting in acrylic powder to prevent it from sticking to the nail, then press it into the half set acrylic. Make sure your client rests her finger on a surface so the net won’t move. Carefully remove the netting and then cap the entire nail in clear acrylic.

Encapsulated Butterflies
Create an ombre using pink and purple acrylic. Use a small wet bead of acrylic to pick up chunky-cut pearl glitter and apply diagonally to the nail. Use the wet brush to pick up the butterflies and place on the nail. Cap the entire nail in clear acrylic. Make sure the butterflies are completely covered and don’t stick out so they won’t be damaged when you file the nail.

Textured Embedded Glitter

Mikey Nguyen, San Diego

@thenailceo

1. Start with crystal clear tips. Apply chunky glitters all over the nails. Cut angel paper in small pieces and apply it over the glitter using glue.

2. Encapsulate everything in a thin layer of clear acrylic.

3. Use an e-file at a very slow speed to carve curved lines onto the nails.

4. Finish by buffing the nails and applying top coat.

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