Six Easy Dotted Christmas Manicures

You may already have tried out a few of my simple striped Christmas manicures.  Now I bring you some super easy dotted Christmas nailart.  For these, all you’ll need is a set of cheap dotting tools, an array of nail polish colours and a reasonably steady hand.  So what’s stopping you from joining in the festive fun?!



These are the quickest nails I think I’ve ever done!

1. Paint a layer of your base coat.

2. Then paint the tips red – it should just take a swipe of red polish along the tip, but you might need two coats.  Don’t worry about keeping it neat!

3. Paint half a vertical stripe of red, near to the edge of the nail.

4. Pour out some white nail varnish on a palette or on the back of an old book and, using a medium-sized dotting tool, place dots of white along the edge of the horizontal red stripe and one on the tip of the vertical red stripe. Allow to dry and seal with your top coat and there you have some super swanky, easy peasy Christmas nails!




1. Paint a layer of base coat, followed by two coats of white nail varnish.

2. Pour out some green polish and, using a medium-sized dotting tool, place some green dots in a curved shape near the tip of your nail with spaces in between, and do a couple of dots just below the curve, again with spaces in between.

3. Pour out your red nail varnish and, having cleaned your dotting tool, use it to place red dots in the gaps between the green dots.

4. Pour out some black polish and take your largest dotting tool and place two dots for coal on the snowman’s front.  Wait for it to dry before topping with your top coat.




1. Apply a layer of base coat followed by a double coat of brown nail varnish.

2. Pour out some white polish and take your large dotting tool to place two white eyes half way down your nail.

3. While the white dries, pour out some red polish and take your largest dotting tool to add a big red nose on the tip of your nail.

4. Pour out some black polish, take your small dotting tool and add some eyes to the centre of the white circles.

5. Pour out some light brown polish and, using your smallest dotting tool, add four little dots in a cross-shape above each eye for antlers.  Leave your nails to dry before adding a layer of top coat.



1. Paint a layer of base coat, followed by two layers of white nail varnish.

2. Pour out some green nail varnish and take a medium-sized dotting tool to add dots, randomly spread out, within an imaginary triangle shape.

3. Pour out a darker green polish and repeat step 2.

4. Pour out a light green polish and repeat steps 2 and 3.

5. Pour out some red polish and take a small dotting tool to place a few red dots within the triangle shape.

6. Take a gold glitter polish and swipe the brush over the triangle to add some twinkling decorations on your tree.




1. Paint your base coat and two coats of brown nail varnish.

2. Pour out some white polish and blob dots using your largest dotting tool, along the cuticle and also in a wave shape half way down the nail, then join the lines up so that you have an icing effect.

3. Take your smallest dotting tool, pour out some red nail varnish, and apply three tiny red berries to each Christmas pud.

4. Pour out some green polish and use your tiniest dotting tool to add six little dots either side of the red berries in an oval shape, to make it look like holly.




1. Apply your base coat, followed by two coats of red varnish, then pour out some white polish and take a large dotting tool to add four white dots in a semi-circle shape near the cuticle.

2. Pour out some red polish and use your medium-sized dotting tool to add four red dots in a semi-circle, overlapping the four white ones.

3. Repeat step 2, using a small dotting tool and white polish.

4. Take your largest dotting tool and place a big red dot in the centre by your cuticle.

5. Follow up with a medium-sized white dot on top of the red dot.

6. Finally take your smallest dotting tool and add a red dot in the middle of the central white dot and, after leaving it to dry, follow up with top coat.


So there are another six easy manicures, this time using dotting tools. Which design is your favourite?  Join in the festive fun and give them a go. I’d love to see yours if you decide to try any – simply tag me on Instagram @tillynailart.


Six Simple Christmas Manicures

Christmas nails are an absolute must for this time of year, so I wanted to make it super easy for you to join in the festive fun.  Here are six simple designs for anyone to try and the best thing is you don’t need anything except a few Christmassy nail polishes to give them a go!



1. Paint a layer of your base coat followed by two coats of green polish.

2. Paint a series of white stripes, each a little shorter than the last.

3. Repeat point 2 using some red varnish but allow some of the white polish to show through.

4. If your hands are steady enough, do the same in gold for a super Christmassy staircase.  Finish up with your top coat.





1. Paint a layer of base coat, followed by some red varnish.

2. Apply a slick of glittery polish diagonally across the tip.

3. If you’re up for adding something extra, then stamping is one option.  I stamped a little robin on each of my nails for an added detail.  Don’t forget to seal it all with your top coat.





1. Apply a layer of base coat followed by a double coat of black nail varnish.

2. Paint short diagonal stripes in blue polish.

3. Follow up with a layer of white stripes over your blue polish, but leave a tiny bit of blue showing.

4. Finally repeat with some silver polish and finish off with your top coat.




1. Paint a layer of base coat, followed by two layers of white nail varnish.

2. Carefully paint thin, straight lines in red polish.  Don’t be afraid to get it on your skin. You can always clear it up with a cotton bud afterwards.

3. If that’s not enough, then add some green and silver stripes with nailart pens and seal with your top coat.





1. Paint your base coat and two coats of white nail varnish.

2. Paint two green stripes at an angle that meet in the middle.

3. Apply two gold stripes parallel to the green ones.

4. If you’re tempted to add more, try some red glittery dots using your nail varnish brush just above the green lines.  Wait a while before adding your top coat.





1. Apply your base coat, followed by two coats of dark green varnish.

2. Paint a thick stripe down the middle in a lighter shade of green.

3. Then add a slightly thinner stripe down the centre in a pale green.

4. Finally paint a thin, white stripe right along the middle to make it look like a highlight and follow up with your top coat.


There you have it!  Six easy ways to achieve Christmassy nails. Let me know if you decide to try any – I’d love to see your recreations. Just tag me on Instagram @tillynailart.

Rainbow Gradient Tutorial

With the new film Noah, starring Russell Crowe, Emma Watson and Jennifer Connelly, out in cinemas this week, I thought I’d share a rainbow gradient tutorial.


The story of Noah and the great flood ends with the creation of the first rainbow and a conversation between God and Noah:

‘And God said, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.”’
(Genesis 9:13-15)

A rainbow is a symbol that God is always faithful and that he keeps his promises.


Photo by Blaowphoto


For this design, in addition to your base and top coat, you will need a cosmetic sponge, a dotting tool, and white, red, yellow, light blue, dark blue and pink nail varnishes. I used White on White by Revlon and then I used acrylic paints by folkArt for the other colours but nail varnish will work just as well. I just find that acrylic paints dry faster (see here for more tips on working with acrylic paints).


1. Apply your base coat, followed by two coats of your white nail varnish. This will make your colours much more vibrant so is strongly advised.

2. Next, on a palette, mix a bit of your red and yellow nail varnish, a bit of your yellow and light blue, and a bit of your dark blue and pink so what you have is an orange, a green and a purple. (If you already have orange, green and purple nail varnishes then this stage isn’t needed.)

3. Taking your cosmetic sponge, apply thick layers of coloured stripes in the following order: red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue, purple.

4. Gently dab the sponge on each of your nails in turn.  Top up the sponge with more layers of stripes as necessary, remembering to use the same order as before.

5. Repeat this process three or four times so that the colours appear rich on your fingers.

6. Once you are happy with the gradients, pour out some white nail varnish or acrylic paint onto a palette and, taking your dotting tool, dot zig-zag shapes horizontally onto each of your nails. If this step is too fiddly then you could use a nailart pen.  Or if you have the patience to wait for your nails to dry then you could apply chevron guides to help you.

7. Finally apply your top coat and clear up around your nails using a Q-tip soaked in nail varnish remover.  If you have used acrylic paint then you may need a couple of coats of top coat to seal in your design safely.

There you have it!  Enjoy your colourful, summery nails!  Let me know if you decide to try them.


Easy Ruffian Nailart

‘What even is Ruffian nailart?’ you may be wondering. Well –

‘The definition of a Ruffian is someone who does something against the rules.  Someone who is disruptive.  The Ruffian woman is bold, she has a sense of history, she’s a little bit irreverent, she’s a good girl who’s gone a little bit bad.’

So said Brian Wolk and Claude Morais – designers behind Ruffian (pronounced rooffian), the critically acclaimed cult New York label.

The duo are responsible for bringing back the half moon manicure popular in the 1920s and 30s dubbed the Ruffian manicure.  Every season they have designed a new version and have had to do 35 manicures on 35 models.  As a result they have now teamed up with MAC make-up and have produced appliqué nails of their designs for quick and easy application.

Their press-on nail designs include the following:

Demilune – a gold and black half moon manicure with a matte finish

Demilune MAC nails

Spectator – a cream manicure with black french tips and black semicircle base

Spectator MAC nails

Demoisellealmond-shaped red nails with a white semicircle base and black french tips

Demoiselle MAC nails

Although I haven’t tried these appliqué nails, I came across an excellent review for them here.

What I am here to do however, is to show you that at a fraction of the price, and for a lot more satisfaction, you can do your own Demilune Nails. You too can have a little piece of couture at your fingertips, thus ‘fusing beauty and accessories together in a modern way.’

Give them a go and you’ll be looking fierce for London Fashion Week in a fortnight’s time.

Click here to subscribe to tillynailart on YouTube.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Random fact about me – I was born in Sweden.  My father’s job took my family to Stockholm for two years a long time ago, during which time I was born, so I spent the first six months of my life there.  Ok, so it’s not in my blood and I may never have been back, but it still forms a part of my history.   With this in mind I wanted to incorporate a bit of Scandinavia into our Christmas decorations this year.

Continue reading

Play to Your Strengths

I wrote in a recent post about my love for personality tests, and one of the tests I cited was Strengths Finder.  Soon after I started working in London, post uni, I read Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton and what I discovered changed my perception about how I view myself and my job.

The premise of the book is that rather than focusing on improving your weaknesses, it is far better to invest in your strengths.  Our strengths are the things that set us apart from other people.  They make us unique, and ultimately a strength used to its full potential will fill you with joy, satisfaction and a sense of purpose.


Now, I know as Brits we don’t tend to shout about our strengths, and volunteering information about ourselves without being pressed for it is cultural suicide.  In fact, even when we are asked to share about our strengths, the mere thought of it sends us recoiling.

Lemon Nails

Imagine the interview question – ‘what are your strengths?’.  We are instantly faced with the dilemma of wanting to promote ourselves enough to get the job but being so unrehearsed at talking positively about ourselves that our minds go blank.  Which are the safe adjectives to opt for?  Hard working, fast learner – characteristics that are cloaked in humility so as not to draw attention to ourselves, but most likely do anything except make us stand out from the crowd.

The beauty with Strengths Finder is that someone else tells you what your strengths are, based on some sort of formula, which means you can legitimately claim them as fact.  With that addressed, I thought I’d share my strengths with you:

  • Maximizer – one who seeks to take people and projects from great to excellent
  • Developer – one who sees the untapped potential in others
  • Positivity – one who has a knack for bringing the light-side to any situation
  • Achiever – one with a constant drive for accomplishing tasks
  • Harmony – one who seeks to avoid conflict and achieve success through consensus

Before I’d read the book I probably wouldn’t even have thought of them as strengths.  Yes, I’m positive but isn’t that a fairly basic characteristic?  My assumption was that everyone was good at these same things, but it’s not the case at all.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Nails

I’ve realised through discovering my strengths why I’ve loved my jobs so much, because they’ve each incorporated these traits in some way.  And if I do ever struggle to enjoy an aspect of my work I try to utilise a strength in order to feel more enthusiasm towards it.  I’ll set myself targets or try to improve the processes I use in order to get the best out of myself and the situation.

So what does all this mean for nailart?

Well, as you know, I want to develop the nailartist in you and inspire you in your nailart endeavours.  I also want to improve and maximise my own skill.  And I set myself goals and push myself to achieve success with new and increasingly challenging techniques.

Pink watermarble nails

All this adds up to concrete reasons why I love nailart so much.  But in addition, through recognising these strengths in my daily life, I have been able to locate that same satisfaction when I identify strengths within the world of nailart.

For example, I am not great at using striping tape, rather I am better at free hand.  And my patience is fairly limited if I have to wait for my nails to dry completely before moving onto the next stage, however if the pattern just has to be done slowly and with great precision, for some reason I find I have enough patience.

Like these geometric nails.

Geometric Nails

This design requires free hand painting and a fair amount of time and accuracy but the process of painting them filled me with a huge amount of satisfaction.

So, I recommend finding out where your strengths lie – both with nailart and in life – and hone those areas.  You probably already love using them even if you don’t know what they are exactly.  Invest in them, and you’ll experience great enthusiasm, joy and purpose.

After all, if you do what you love, you’ll love what you do.


For this design, in addition to your base coat, you will need a white nail polish, a black striper and nailart pen and a red nailart pen (or you could use acrylic paint and a small brush) and I finished mine off with a matte top coat.


I used White on White by Revlon, a black and a red nailart pen both by Rio and Matte Magic by China Glaze.


1. The first step is to paint your base coat and follow up with two coats of your white polish.

2. Then, using your black striper, paint three parallel stripes along your nail.

3. Next, taking your black nailart pen, draw trapezium shapes either side of the stripes so it ends up looking like a line curving in and out of each stripe.

4. Fill in the trapezium shapes using your black nailart pen.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 but on the opposite side of each stripe, using your red nailart pen and finish off with a coat of matte nail varnish.

There you have it – an eye-catching design.  It takes patience and precision, but if that’s where your strengths lie then why not give it a go?

The Easiest Nailart Technique

My aim with tillynailart is to show you that excessive amounts of fun and beauty can be created with minimal effort.

The nailart technique that requires the least effort and is best for beginners is polka dots.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Nails

Even if you’re not a beginner, polka dot nailart is still a brilliant style, and here are just a few reasons why:

1. Dots are great by themselves

Arrange them however you like, you’ll always get a striking pattern.

Spiral dotted nails

2. Dots can enhance an existing design

Add dots to a sponged gradient to liven it up.

Gradient Dot Nails 20140330-110001.jpg

3. Dots form a great backdrop

Florals are a beautiful addition to a clean dotticure.

Floral Polka Dot Nails

4. Dots can be piled up to form new shapes

Layer up your dots to form a crowning half moon floral pattern.

Yellow crowned nails

5. Dots are great for covering up mistakes

I’m still a complete amateur at watermarbling so dots serve as the perfect antidote to any smudges or bubbles!

Watermarble 2

6. There are multiple methods for making polka dots 

If you don’t have nailart tools and you want smaller dots, you could try using a cocktail stick.  Personally I can’t seem to make it work.  Or you might have a few tiny paint brushes that you could use to give it a go.


Using nailart pens is  a great way to branch into polka dots.  They are easy to use and come in lots of different colours.


However, my favourite way to create perfect shaped dots of any size is using dotting tools.  They have quite literally transformed my nailart life!


So there you have it – six reasons to give polka dot nailart a try and lots of design inspiration too!  Just remember not to put your top coat on immediately afterwards or you risk smudging your work.  Wait a bit and then blob it on rather than brushing it on.

I hope this has made you go dotty for nailart!  Tag your creations @tillynailart so I can see them too.

Paralysed by Choice

We live in an age packed with more choice than ever.  According to studies, the average person makes about 612 decisions a day.  The internet has multiplied our options exponentially.  We have the world at our fingertips and are better positioned now to make something of ourselves than any generation before us.

Suit and Tie Nails Left

The question is, are all these choices helping or hindering us?

I need only think back to when I was at school to remember how I, and most of my peers, had absolutely no idea what we wanted to be when we were older and the pressure of picking the correct subjects to propel us toward our dreams was quite frankly paralysing.  It was particularly frustrating when we were being asked to decide by the very people who we felt contained the answers.  We weren’t experienced enough to make these sorts of decisions.  Why was our future being left to us?

Ten years on I still don’t know if I made the right choices.  Thankfully I’m happy where I am, but I don’t think studying Latin got me here.

Which begs the question, do our choices even matter?

I’m sure they do, and I’m very grateful that I have any possibilities or opportunities in life at all.  I know there are many people around the world who don’t – women in particular.    But the problem with all this choice is, though the world is my veritable oyster, I’m not quite sure what to do with it.

On a simplistic level, I see this play out every time I paint someone’s nails.  I’ll ask them which colours they prefer, what design they’d like on each nail and so on.  Even after showing them endless examples and explaining what the outcome would be with each scenario, they still look at me as if to say ‘surely you know better?’.

I have actually taken to giving people fewer options when painting their nails just to avoid watching them seize up and removing any sense of pleasure from the experience.

Studies have shown that we are more likely to enjoy making a decision if we are presented with fewer choices.  The key is to determine what our end goal is.

My method for deciding a design is to narrow down the options one by one – what colours do I want to have on this week?  What tools do I want to try out?  What are my top three favourite designs that I have seen recently?  Piecing these details together I can always come up with something.

When I started out with nailart the weekly decision-making process was long and laborious but with practice I definitely became more adept at it.  I soon realised that I could have my cake and eat it – if there were too many designs I wanted to try, I could placate myself with the thought that if I didn’t opt for one this week, I could try it next week.

I guess that’s the beauty with nailart – it’s not a life-changing decision and your choices aren’t mutually exclusive.  You could always do each nail with a different pattern if you really wanted to.

Retro Geometric Nails

Case in point!

The same can be said for canapés, tapas and boxes of chocolates – if you really want to, there’s nothing to stop you from trying all the options.

The problem is that, in life, the choices we make aren’t temporary trivialities such as nourishment or nailart.  It turns out Forrest Gump wasn’t right after all – life is not like a box of chocolates.  We can’t have ten spouses at the same time or change our job each week depending on our mood, which is why, so often, I see friends delaying making any decision at all for fear they’ll make the wrong one.

Theodore Roosevelt said ‘In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing.  The worst thing you can do is nothing.’

I actually think that there is often more than one right path to take and if we pray about it and push enough doors eventually one will open.  It certainly takes the pressure off.

So, what if we take the lessons we’ve learnt from making small decisions and apply them to the big ones too?  If eliminating our options has been shown to reduce anxiety, and the key is to keep the end goal in mind, can we practise doing this with the easy decisions and remember these tips when we come to tackle the trickier choices too?

Could this in fact be the day that we finally make that 613th decision?


This week’s choice of nailart was galaxy nails – I’d seen them around, they seemed suitably wintery, but sparkly enough for a wedding I was going to and were super simple too.  I really like them, but already after one day, I feel like repainting my nails – I just need to decide what to go for.   After all I’m not immune to choices – just gradually getting better at making them!


For this design, in addition to your base and top coat, you’ll need a black, white, light blue and glitter polish.


I went for Knockout, White on White, Blue Lagoon and Sequins all by Revlon.

1. Prep your nails with a layer of base coat and then apply two coats of your black nail varnish.

2. Next blob random lines or swirls of white varnish on your nails – this will act as a base for the light blue and make it stand out better against the black.

3. Paint over the white using your light blue polish.

4.  Taking a brush loaded with your sequin varnish paint a thick coat over the whole design and finally seal with your top coat.

Here’s a more recent Galaxy Nails design, done using the same technique but with a variety of colours.

Galaxy Nails

There you have it – by far one of the easiest designs, and no need for any nailart tools at all.  Surely there’s no two ways about it – it’s definitely one to try!

If you want more inspiration follow me on Instagram or Twitter and if you give this design a go, tag your photos @tillynailart so I can see too.

Relationship Status Changed

So often I shy away from experiences I haven’t tried before.  It’s probably partly as a result of my extreme introversion, in addition to my overarching fear of failure, but I also just love routine and the security of knowing what the outcome will be in any situation.

I’m currently reading Quiet by Susan Cain, in which she writes about ‘the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.’  According to Cain, as an introvert, I have a high reactive amygdala (emotional brain!), and apparently the more reactive it is, ‘the more jangled [I’m] likely to feel when [I] confront something new and stimulating.’

So, there’s no avoiding it, it’s in my nature.

So far, my relationship with spontaneity has been fairly non-existent.  I flirted with it briefly, but all trace of this was soon ruined by too much planning.  I set aside a day to be spontaneous, but ensured it was well within a strict set of parameters like – as long as I was warm enough, within walking distance of food and bathroom facilities at all times, had slept well the night before, was suitably dressed for all weather eventualities, was able to get home easily etc etc.  What can I say? I’m practical!

You’re probably wondering where I get my enjoyment from if I only do things that are predictable and controlled (two words that have never let me down).  Well, I guess I get satisfaction from that feeling that I have done something better than I had planned.  And that’s not to say I set low expectations just so I can supersede them.  On the contrary I am an extreme optimist and quite a perfectionist.  What it means is that I am almost always content, but on occasion, if something genuinely exceeds my expectations, I am positively ecstatic.

What’s this got to do with nailart you may be asking?

Well, this week I entertained the idea of a date with a challenge that was most definitely out of my league and certainly outside my comfort zone.  I don’t really know what compelled me to do it.  I knew I was probably taking on too much, but I had recently reached the ‘positively ecstatic’ state following a recent floral venture, and as a result, was feeling deceptively overconfident.

This challenging design combined ombre (which thankfully I had done before, see Ombre Seaside Nailart Tutorial) with extremely fine detail.

Ombre Seaside Nails

Obviously, like any good planner, I thought through the implications of it not working out first.  What would be the worst-case scenario?

The first course – the ombre might be a complete disaster and I would have to build the rest of the design on unsatisfactory foundations, or mortifyingly, just call it a day there.

The second course – the fine detailed overlay might be terrible and ruin whatever progress I’d made during the first course.  This really would be discouraging and I would have to go away and start again, which would make the whole thing a complete waste of time.

But, if I succeeded, I thought, if I made it to desert, then having pushed myself to the next level of nailart, I would be able to take on other intimidating designs with confidence.

Going through these outcomes one by one, I realized that death from failure wasn’t one of them, so I went for it.


You’ll be pleased to know the ombre seemed to work so I stuck around for the detailed overlay. It was all going so well until I put the top coat on and streaked black across the background – the social equivalent of snapping your stiletto heel and limping your way through the remainder of an evening.  I was pretty gutted as it meant it was far from perfect.  But, no one seemed to mind and I actually learnt a lot from the experience.

The following day, my good friend from University, Lina, came over for a manicure.  Admirably she is running the San Francisco Marathon this weekend and wanted some suitable nailart for the event.

Having accomplished an ombre and fine detail design less than 24 hours before, I suggested something similar for her without even a moment’s hesitation, but this time with a running man on a sunset backdrop interspersed with American flags.

The borders of my comfort zone had been expanded thanks to the previous day’s near success and now there was no holding me back.


Wonderfully, it was even better the second time round.

So, what’s all this taught me?

Well, I can’t say I will be running a Marathon any time soon, but I certainly feel more open to venturing across the perimeters of my little comfort zone … at least every so often.  In fact, this experience has actually changed my feelings towards daunting challenges and convinced me to give almost everything a go once, even if it’s only so I can learn from my mistakes.  After all, the world is not going to end if I fail.


For the Romantic Sunset design, in addition to your base and top coat, you will need a light blue nail varnish, a light pink, a dark pink, a white and a black nail varnish.  It also requires a make up sponge and some fine acrylic brushes.


I used Dreamer by Revlon, Pink Friday by OPI, and Fuscia Fever, White on White and Knockout all by Revlon.


  1. Start by painting your base coat, followed by two coats of white varnish.  This will make the colours of your sunset more dynamic.
  2. Paint stripes of your light blue, light pink and dark pink on the sponge so that they overlap.
  3. Check which way the sponge needs to be in order to get the right colour direction on your nails and then sponge away.  You will need to top up your stripes of paint for every other nail and you will also need to do three coats of your sponging.  Clean up around the edges using a slanted brush dipped in nail varnish remover.  You can also minimize clean up by placing sellotape or Vaseline around your nails first.
  4. Next, using your fine acrylic brush dipped in white nail varnish, paint a large circle on each of your ring fingers and blot the inside of the circle with the brush to make a shadowy moon shape.  Then place tiny white dots at random on each of your fingers for faint stars in the sky.  Finally, taking your brush and dipping it in black nail varnish, carefully paint on the silhouette designs you would like and then seal with your top coat.

Perhaps you’re also keen to take on a nailart challenge.  If you’re not sure about either of these designs and prefer instead a simpler version of a silhouette on a gradient background why not try this?  It’s one I did a while ago before I had any tiny acrylic brushes.


Give it a go.  You may just surprise yourself.