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Monday, February 14, 2011

29

Nail Tutorial: How to Give Yourself an Amazing Hand Job

When I was eight we had an exchange student from Japan come live with us. Setsuko brought a whole suitcase (it seemed like it at the time, though it sounds like a ridiculous eight-year-old's exaggerated memory when you type it out), anyway, a whole suitcase (!!) full of tiny candy-colored bottles of nail polish. An addiction was born. By the time I reached my senior year of high school, the salon in town had to order new tips called "Dragon Ladies" to satisfy my desire to have the longest nails in Shiawassee County, Michigan. Luckily, I grew tired of dialing the phone with the side of my knuckle and spent a good number of years just getting pretty French manicures on my natural nails.

That was until last summer, when I was sent to Georgia on an assignment and drove by a Kroger's grocery store in Macon and of course had to stop, because, as you all know, Kroger's has the best angel food cake. Anyway, as I was leaving I walked by this nail salon inside the grocery store. There were no customers, just three women sitting around a TV watching Matlock. I went in and browsed the mannequin hands and one was just so bananas, like neon splatter-painty in a controlled way, that I had it done, and it looked beautiful. I was so glad to have my old "friend" back. So I came right home, went to the beauty supply store on my block and bought about 20 of those two-dollar skinny bottles of polish with the little skinny brushes like the lady in Kroger's had used. About every week or two I experiment; you can check out some of the better results in a slideshow below, but first!

As a Valentine's Day gift to you, and let's be honest, to me too because these things look AMAZING on my hands, here's a step-by-step guide on how you can do three of my favorite styles yourself. There's a themed look with pictures or characters, the splatter painting one like the grocery store lady did, and a French and Reverse French both on the same nail.

Step one: Choose a color scheme. Here's what you definitely need no matter what: black, white, gold sparkles, and silver sparkles. You'll use at least one of those every time. Colorwise, pick the main polish color. This is one that comes out of a normal bottle with a normal brush. Then choose accent colors. I usually pick two or three colors in a similar hue and one accent color that's often complimentary (color-wheel wise). Also, invest in some really good base and top coats (I like Seche brand) and your manicure will last forever.

Let's get started! Okay, for each look start by applying your base color like so:

You'll see for the splatter painty nail I've only colored half of it. If you do this look on all your nails try to cover half of each one in a different way. Like some the top half, some the left half and so on. Mix it up. Okay, the next step is to get outlines going.

Then add some accents and fill in your outlines.

Now for the middle one, to get those flicky swooshy things, you just literally take the tip of the brush, touch it to your nail and haphazardly flick it. It's waaay easier than it looks. And for this look, the more colors and flicky things and dots and craziness you add, the better. Have fun with this part! Fill in negative space!

Now go over the flickys and the filled in areas on your other looks with GLITTER! For the middle look, it's best if you come back in after the glitter and redefine some of the dots and swooshes with black or white; your choice. Add diamonds! (If you can work fast, just put them on wet polish, or if it's dry, add a drop of the glittery stuff and stick them on top.) Add pizazz! Add hidden messages to your lover! And then add top coat.

And seriously — don't be intimidated! It's just like a zit in that you notice the imperfections way more than anyone else does. Just be brave and go forth in the world, and people will ooh and ahhh and not be like, "That line is crooked. I don't think I want to be your friend anymore." (I'm also not ambidextrous, and you don't have to be, either — I just have a lot of practice.)

Now for the gallery!

(Bonus nails by Jane: Emily, a bassist — people with short nails can do this, too!)

Previously: How to Shop Online.

Jane Feltes is a VERY CLASSY LADY and produces the radio program "This American Life." She can be seen regularly on stage at The Talent Show in Brooklyn and also blogs about cooking awesome meals for that special someone — herself — at ReadyMade.



29 Comments / Post A Comment

Bonnie Downing

I spent a summer trying to perfect pink and white polka dots on red nails, when I was about nine. I think that experiment ended when there was a fight over the bottles of polishes and I buried them in the back yard to keep them from my sister.

I especially enjoyed the christmas-themed nails above and also the gold glitter, on gold polish. My nails are coated in a sort of bronze-pink intense glitter right now. I had them done this weekend with the gel stuff that lasts for weeks. Think the "gel" might be polyurethane like you'd use on a wood floor.

Better to Eat You With

I got the gel stuff in a nice, subdued cranberry a week and a half ago. They still look like they were done yesterday.

lafleur

These are excellent. My proudest achievement this decade, I think, was mastering a leopard print self-manicure. And yesterday I got my first Calgel. I'm moving up in the world...

MollyculeTheory

I bought nail stencils recently, and tried to do what looked to me like the silhouette of a flying swallow.
Me: Look what I did!
Boyfriend: Why did you paint the hammer & sickle on your nails?
Me: They're BIRDS.
Boyfriend: Except that one kind of looks like an alligator head.

Bonnie Downing

Commie-gator-glitter nails, your new look for spring!

theinvisiblecunt

As a leftist UF graduate I can't say I see the problem here

rootmarm

The reverse french is awesome! You just did the outline with one of those skinny brush polishes? It looks perfect!

theinvisiblecunt

Aw, I just placed an 8ty8beauty order last night that included a matte finish polish so I could try this manicure. If I had had the patience to wait until morning I would have totally picked up some of those tiny brush polishes.

lemonyfreshk

love! thanks for sharing… im totally trying this.

Hot Doom

Jane, no stencils, no nothin? Just a skinny brush and your steady hand? My nail reverence knows no bounds.
Also! Gel stuff? What is this gel stuff of which you fine people speak? I feel so lost and without a home!

Jane Marie

yep! just the skinny brushes, they're so fun. and the gel stuff comes in a few brands but i have friends who love Calgel (http://www.calgelusa.com/) it's just a bit too expensive for me but otherwise i'd try it.

tea tray in the sky.

This page gives an awesome tip for doing reverse french nails: using hole reinforcement stickers! http://www.chickadvisor.com/article/half-moon-manicure-hot-or-not/ Genius.

Clare

Jane, do you ever read Wah Nails' blog? Lots of great inspiration there. http://wah-nails.com/

karenpr

Also this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pPH0njwwvQ

wtf?! want/love

Jane Marie

OMG THAT IS AMAZING!!!

katiechasm

Servicey tip: you can do detailed nail art with regular acrylic paint as long as you put clear nail polish on top. I had tiny Totoros on my nails last time I tried this, it was great.

This girl is probably the expert: http://supanails.tumblr.com/

sox
sox

i want supanails!
also, i love love love this whole post, but! it's valentine's TODAY and there is no time to be doing this before, you know, TONIGHT!

beatrixkiddo1

Ooooh I love those black and gold ones. Very luxe.

Jane Marie

thanks! it's actually this green black from deborah lippman called "don't tell mama". it gives a really pretty depth to the color, i just wish her nail polish didn't chip so easily :(

Alexandra Martell

But how do you just paint your nails in a solid color without looking like you just dipped your hands in nail polish? Anyone?

pistolwhip

I have not even considered the possibility of nail art since I was maybe nine--nary a passing thought!--but now I am sick to my stomach with envy for those nails and those skillz. Props!

rachelkramerbussel

I'm way too lazy to try these myself but just wanted to say I love looking at them! Gorgeous.

Caroline Sirand

I'm a little late on this, but where did you get your awesome gold ring? Love it!

Jane Marie

thanks! my dude got it for me from http://www.ginette-ny.com/ and i LOVE it.

Jessica Roberts

I have been getting back into nail art and am so glad to see so many people documenting ideas. I used to get crazy designs airbrushed on my nails in high school and even got those nail piercings every once in a while …. so this seems like a slippery slope to that. But I think I am okay with that? I don't know – I am still deciding.

Anywho – has anyone seen the Konad nail stamp plates? I have been toying with the idea of getting one – http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=konad+nail+art&aq=0. Wondering if anyone has had any luck, thought it would worth sharing with the group. Go nails!

curlysue

Wow. I'm a complete and total spaz with a nail polish brush, so I can't possibly comprehend being able to do this on my own nails. Way impressed.

sarahkahn

What did you do to get the gold lines over the black? What is the name of the gold shimmery polish you have and do you use a skinny brush that you dip into regular polish or the tiny polishes. PS I am obsessed!!

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