A Polished Finish: 3 Top Tricks that Professional Nail Artists Use

You only need to spend a couple of minutes on Instagram to stumble across a jaw-dropping set of nails. Whether they're covered in a mosaic of individually-placed sequins or intricately painted with a filigree design that requires years of practice and a steady hand, it can sometimes feel like nail art is a fairly inaccessible discipline. It seems difficult enough to get a smooth base coat, let alone a complicated design. However, there are a few simple tricks that most nail artists use to make their jobs a lot easier. While it won't turn you into an Instagram sensation overnight, it will at least help you to perfect your techniques and get started on developing some truly inspiring creations.

Stick to a Solid Care Routine

Good nail art starts with a good base. What this means is that you must set a strict nail care routine, and adhere to it. Condition your nails with cuticle oil on a regular basis. Keep nails trimmed to a pretty but practical length to discourage snaps and breakages — and always apply a base coat before you move on to your colours. This won't just help the design to hold. It also protects your nail against the chemicals in the polish. They aren't harmful, per se, but it's much easier to keep your nail healthy if you take your time and apply that base coat — as most manufacturers do recommend.

Cheat to Get It Neat

It's often said that you only need three strokes to paint any nail — one straight down the middle, and then two to cover the gaps on either side. However, even employing this technique can leave you with messy residue on the skin on either side of your nail. To avoid this and to allow you to put down a really solid colour base, use masking tape to cover up the skin around your nail. Having done this, you can freely apply the nail polish without having to be careful of your skin. This allows a nice, even coverage from edge to edge of your nail.

Let Texture Do the Talking

If you're not particularly steady with your hands, then attempting to sketch out a complicated design with a toothpick may be frustrating and unrewarding. Instead, think outside of the box and use other techniques that don't require such a steady hand. For example, wait until your first colour is drying, and then add a stroke of a complementary colour in the other direction. Blend with a clean varnish brush for an ombre effect. This requires no skill, and very little practice, but the results looks fantastic. Additionally, you can try flicking a second colour over your first coat with a brush or adding clean, even dots with the slim, non-brush end of a paintbrush. Using techniques like these relies on organised randomness and different textures to look good — not your hand-eye coordination.

Like any other art form, painting nails is about precision and practice, but there's no harm in utilising these professional tips and tricks to tide you over in the meantime. Good luck!