Bring out your inner van Gogh with your nail polish. Lisa Haynes reveals DIY techniques to create mini-masterpieces for your talons
Nude nails are a big trend this season, but if you want an antidote to the sea of bland talons then it's time to get flamboyant.
Nail art has taken the beauty industry by storm with a palette of paints and endless tools to create modern masterpieces.
"It's OK if you weren't the most talented student in your school art classes, and you don't have the steadiest of hands," assures Danielle Black, co-author of new book Polish You Pretty. "All you need is a little practice and the right tools."
Forget jewellery, shoes and bags, and make nail art your show-stopping accessory.
Transform your coffee table into a DIY nail bar and don't panic if you're lacking a rainbow spectrum of enamel colours.
"You can achieve great nail art designs with a few simple colours but essential shades include a neutral, a white and a black," says Black. "When buying polishes, look for flat, creamy, opaque colours rather than sheer shades."
Start off simple and if you want to create more elaborate designs, invest in nail art brushes to achieve a more technical finish. Topshop has a full set for £7 (www.topshop.com).
Dotting tools give you professional results if you're looking to create small circles. Amazon.co.uk has a great, affordable selection but filed-down cocktail sticks/toothpicks or the end of a hairpin also work.
One thing you need on your side with nail art is time. Before you even start on your design, you need to apply a base coat to give the nail polish a good foundation and avoid chips.
Once your art attack is complete, allow to dry and then seal your design with a top coat for extra longevity.
Polishyoupretty.com nail bloggers Jenny Stencel and Danielle Black guide you through five of their finger master strokes.
1. ODE TO OMBRE
If you're new to nail art, impress with an ombre affair. This simple graduated two-tone look works well with a variety of shades but contrasting neutral and black is uber-chic.
:: Paint your nails with two coats of neutral polish.
:: Once dry, put sticky tape around your nails to allow for an easy clean-up.
:: Cut a make-up sponge into thin slices. Dip the sponge into a dark nail polish, then dab the sponge on a piece of scrap paper to remove excess polish.
:: Dab your sponge onto the tip of each nail, starting with a heavier pressure and getting lighter as you get closer to the base.
:: Repeat with all your nails, making sure all the tips are a solid colour.
2. HALF MOON
Otherwise known as the reverse mani, this dramatic look puts the focus on your cuticles. While the traditional French flaunts white nail tips, the half moon uses contrasting colours with a darker shade at the cuticles.
:: Paint your nails with one coat of a light or metallic shade.
:: Using a nail art brush dipped in your chosen dark polish, paint a 'U' shape around the base of each of your nails.
:: Using the brush from the polish bottle, fill in the rest of all your nails with the dark polish, leaving the pale half moons at the base of each nail.
3. SPOTTY CHIC
Go dotty for a playful spot print manicure. Experiment with different colour combinations but pure white makes a fresh spring backdrop.
:: Paint your nails with two coats of white polish and allow to dry.
:: Using a large dotting tool, dip in a bright shade and dot four large polka dots down the middle of each nail.
:: Using a medium dotting tool, dip in a contrasting bright polish and dot six medium polka dots on either side of the large middle row.
:: Using a small dotting tool, dip in a third contrasting bright polish and dot a tiny row of red spots on both outer edges of each of your nails.
:: Finish by placing a tiny dot in the middle of each of the large dots and allow to dry.
4. FLOWER POWER
Floral prints are blooming in fashion so don't neglect your nails from the fauna trend. Demonstrate green-fingered qualities with a pretty peony design.
:: Paint your nails with two base coats of light green polish, such as teal.
:: Dip a nail art brush into the pink polish and paint four large, slightly imperfect dots on each of your nails. Allow to dry and clean the brush with nail polish remover.
:: Dip the nail art brush into a red polish and paint small semi-circles around three sides of the dots, dragging one line into the middle of each dot and dry.
:: Dip the nail art brush into a dark green polish and paint small leaves around the peonies (in the spaces surrounding the flowers).
5. MONOCHROME MODE
Accessorise your party frock with well-dressed fingertips. The tuxedo look works this season's black and white craze, as sported by Zooey Deschanel on last year's Golden Globes red carpet.
:: Paint your nails all over with two coats of white polish and allow to dry.
:: Take the black polish and, using a nail art brush, start two-thirds of the way up one side of each nail and paint a thin diagonal line up to the centre tip.
:: Repeat the process on the opposite side of the nail to create a 'V' shape.
:: Using the brush from the polish bottle, fill in the triangle to create the jacket of the tuxedo.
:: Using a dotting tool, make three dots down the centre of each nail to create buttons.
:: Take a very fine nail art brush and create a figure of eight shape at the base middle of each nail to make a bow tie shape.
Polish You Pretty by Jenny Stencel and Danielle Black is published by Ryland Peters & Small, priced £9.99 in hardback. Available now