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The Best Nail Art Designs

The best nail art designs are fun to apply and fun to look at.

Nail polish has come a long way since you were a little kid practicing painting your nails at home. In addition to bold new colors, nail art encompasses a variety of techniques, looks, tools and accessories, including glitter, rhinestones and animal prints. Whether you opt for a professional manicure or are simply looking for do-it-yourself ideas, the best nail art designs are attractive and unique without being tacky.

Reverse French Manicure

  • The French manicure is a classic nail art look that has been around for years: pale pink nails (your own or acrylic) are painted with a thin-to-thick strip of white at the top of the nail, just above the nail bed. The reverse French manicure is essentially the photo negative of the French. The half-moon cuticle bed at the base of the nail is painted with a curved strip in a contrasting color to the main nail, in addition to the top strip in the style of the classic French manicure. Use contrasting colors for an even more modern twist. At home, one trick to make the reverse French easier to apply is sticking circular hole-punch reinforcer stickers to the base of the nail before applying the main nail color for a more even application.

Animal Prints

  • Leopard and zebra print nail art can be successfully applied at home or at the salon. For professional manicures, simply ask your nail technician for samples and ideas, and change up the usual leopard and zebra colors for a unique take on the design. At home, apply a base coat in brown (for leopard) or white (for zebra), and paint the spots or stripes on top using a striper brush or nail polish pen for increased precision.Gel ImpressionsThe gel impressions technique is best left to the professionals. With this method of nail art application, a base coat is applied in a glitter or sheer color. Gel polish is thickly applied over the basecoat, and then a design is “cut” out in the gel polish before it sets to reveal the glitzy basecoat underneath.Pearls, Sequins, Studs and RhinestonesWith the use of a nail adhesive readily available at the nail salon or your local drugstore, you can apply sequins, pearls, studs and rhinestones to give a new look to your nail art. These appliqués should be the finishing touches on your painted nails. Make sure you leave ample drying time so that they don’t get dislodged or otherwise disrupt your new, neat nails.