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.


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.


More Recommended Nailart Equipment

As is always the way with these things – you write a list and before long, you realise you’ve overlooked something.

If you’re a beginner at nailart then check out my previous post on recommended nailart equipment which will see you through most designs.  However, this post will outline a couple of other tools that I have had the benefit of using recently.

1. Dotting tools


These dotting tools are quite literally game changers – they take your nailart from amateur to expert as each polka dot or petal is an exact circle.   They retain polish on the nib for a couple of dots and are predictable, which is where nailart pens fail.  You are in complete control with these and you don’t get cramp in your hand from squeezing the tube of a nailart pen.  This set comes in five different sizes and are easy to use and easy to clean.

2. Stripers


With the dual action – pen and thin brush, these stripers will help any design look professional.  When using the pen, the paint flows out much more freely than with other nailart pens so you are less prone to get cramp in your hand.  The striper allows you to draw straight lines along the length or width of your nail with little or no hassle.  With the variety of colours, this set has opened up a huge range of designs for me to try.

3. Acrylic brushes


Tiny brushes like this mean that no design is off limits.  The intricacies you can accomplish with these is immense.  I advise getting a few different sizes, bearing in mind you can never go too small.  If you are using a few brushes at the same time for one design you have to be particularly careful when switching brushes not to smudge your hard work, but you soon get used to the juggling act.

4. Fan brush


So I’m yet to try this method but using a fan brush you can achieve a messy stripes / zebra print look by sweeping a fan brush across your nail a couple of times.  I’ve ordered mine, can’t wait for it to arrive!

5. Nail tip guides


These nail tip guides are brilliant, and I particularly love that they come in a variety of shapes to help you achieve different looks.  You get loads in a packet so will be sure to come up with countless designs – my mind is buzzing with ruffian and chevron based ideas!  Don’t worry about having to wait ages for your base colour coat to dry, simply put on a fast drying top coat over your base colour and you won’t need to wait long at all.

6. Striping tape


For ages I wondered how people managed to get such straight lines when doing nailart and then I discovered striping tape.  This stuff is great, if quite fiddly to place on your nails, but you soon get the hang of it.  You can either use it as a template to help you achieve straight lines, or with all the different colours, you can simply pick the one you want, cut it to size and stick it to your nail in your desired pattern and then paint top coat over it.  So many possibilities!

So, there you have it, a few extra options to further your inspiration.  Hope you found it useful!

Fashion at your Fingertips

Perhaps we can’t all afford couture clothing straight from the runway, but who’s to say we can’t get in on the fashion action anyway, and even beat celebrities to it?!

I’ve picked four Spring / Summer 2014 ready to wear styles that I think are going to be big in the coming year.

Dolce and Gabbana Nailart Tutorial
Temperly London Nailart Tutorial
Missoni Nailart Tutorial
Alberta Ferretti Nailart Tutorial


By focusing in on the different elements that make up each look not only can your wardrobe get an update, but I’m also going to show you how you can translate each one into nailart to give you cutting edge couture at your fingertips.


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First up is Dolce and Gabbana.  I love the bold mix of vibrant polkadot and brocade.  It screams opulence and captures the best bits of Italy.  To adapt it to your wardrobe notice the courageous colour combo and the mix of prints.  This is certainly not a look to shy away from for 2014.


Photo by Blaow Photo

For this manicure, in addition to your base and top coat, you will need a red and a gold nail varnish and also ideally a black nail varnish pen or a normal black polish and also a fine acrylic brush.

20131005-165833.jpgThe colours I used were Fearless and Gold Coin both by Revlon and a black nailart pen by Rio.


1. After applying your base coat, add two coats of your red polish.

2. Next paint a gold stripe down the middle of the nail but only in the half closest to the tip of the nail.  Follow this up by painting two shorter stripes either side of the central stripe so what you are left with is a gold block, shaped like the skirt.

3. Use your black nailart pen (or dotting tool, or cocktail stick dipped in black nail varnish) and paint dots of nail varnish in diagonal rows along the remaining red section of the nail.

4. Focus in on a section of the skirt that you want to replicate for the brocade.  Taking your black nailart pen, paint your pattern on top of the gold part of your nail.  I would recommend practising this stage on some paper first.

5. Seal with your top coat and allow to dry while you await the compliments!


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Second in this series is one of my favourite looks from the entire Spring / Summer 2014 catwalk.  It comes from Temperly London and takes the art of gradient to the next level as it effortlessly blends leopard print into flirty florals – both an absolute must for this season.


For this design, as well as your base and top coat, you will need a light orange polish, a black nailart pen, a light pink polish, a darker pink pen and a green pen.  If you don’t have the pens then you can just as easily use a fine acrylic brush, but a pen allows for faster application as only one layer is needed to achieve the rich colour.

20131005-174751.jpgI used Sheer Blush by Revlon, a light orange shade by Nails Supreme, my trusty black nailart acrylic pen by Rio, Pink Friday by OPI, a dark pink pen by Nail Art and a green nailart acrylic pen by Rio.


1. First things first, apply your base coat followed by two coats of a nude polish.  Then apply some light orange varnish to about a half to two thirds of your nail at the cuticle end.  It doesn’t have to finish with a neat line.

2. Using your black nailart pen paint a series of short black lines in varying directions on only the orange section of the nail.  The lines should be in pairs and should curve towards one another but not touch, like brackets.  Intersperse these with a few black dots if there is empty space between each one.

3. Blob on some light pink varnish in rough dots onto the bare end of the nail.  Apply a couple of pink dots in the centre of the black brackets nearest the edge of the orange section to imitate the gradual fade from leopard print to florals.

4. Surround your pink dots with sets of dark pink brackets and again, intersperse with dark pink dots in any empty space.

5. Place tiny green dots in the centre of your pink brackets to look like flowers.

6. Apply your top coat and wait while they dry before giving your self a pat on the back for your impressive work!


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Third in line is a look by Missoni.  A lot of Missoni’s collection had a graphic Japanese influence, with inspiration from the elements – earth, air, fire and water.  Chevrons were a key factor, interpreted both as waves and birds.  If you’re wanting to update your wardrobe, reach for bold colours with multicoloured stripes or chevrons.  Think less breton and more varying widths of brightly coloured stripes mixed with monochrome.  Texture is also a big look for 2014 so aim to pair matte and sheer materials for a quick modern take on any outfit.


For this manicure, in addition to your base and top coat, you will need a blue hue, a black varnish and a white nailart pen.  You will also need nail tip guides, or, if you don’t have any, you could use thin strips of sellotape.

20131005-165852.jpgThe colours I went for were Dreamer and Knockout, both by Revlon, a white nailart pen by Rio and some French Tip Nail Guides that I ordered off Amazon.  I also used Matte Magic top coat by China Glaze.


1. To start, paint your base coat and follow up with two coats of your blue polish.

2. Next I recommend applying a quick drying top coat to seal in your colour so that when you apply the nail tip guides the colour doesn’t come off with the adhesive.  When this has dried, apply your nail tip guides in pairs.  I wanted one chevron on each nail, apart from my thumb which had two chevrons, and therefore four nail tip guides.

3. Paint black stripes between the nail tip guides and peel off the guides immediately after painting the black stripes onto each nail (you may want to use tweezers for this).

4. Using your white nailart pen, draw a border along the edge of the black chevrons.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfect as this will resemble the jagged edges on the design.

5. Next apply your top coat.  I opted for a matte top coat to imitate the leather look of the skirt.


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Florals were big on the catwalk for Spring / Summer 2014, and no one portrayed them quite as intricately and delicately as Alberta Ferretti.  It was both dramatic and romantic with bright oranges and blues and greens and pinks that seemed to beckon in the summer.  If dark, wintery nights are starting to get too much for you then splash out some colourful florals to lift your mood.


In addition to your base and top coat, you will need the following colours: black, light blue, light pink, orange, purple, bright pink, yellow, white, green and coral.   You will also need some dotting tools and fine acrylic brushes and finally some patience and quite a bit of spare time.  Normally my manicures take me an hour.  This one took me two and a half as I was determined to get it right.

20131005-165902.jpgThe shades I used (from left to right) were Knockout and Dreamer both by Revlon, Pink Friday by OPI, Siren, Enchanting and Fuscia Fever, again all by Revlon, 330 by Barry M, White on White, Posh and Tropical Temptation by Revlon.


1. Start by painting your base coat, followed by two layers of your black polish.

2. Using your dotting tool, paint little blue flowers near the cuticle end of your nail, each made up of five dots.

3. Next repeat step 2 but paint pink flowers instead, further up the nail, and occasionally paint little pink dots over some of the blue dots near where the pink flowers are.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 using your orange polish to paint flowers at the tip of your nail and every so often paint over a pink dot near where the orange flowers are.

5. Paint a little purple smudge in the middle of the blue flowers.  It doesn’t have to be neat.  You want it to look like it blends in with the blue.

6. Paint dark pink dots in the centre of your blue (and now purple) flowers, and also in the middle of your pink flowers.

7. Paint some yellow dots over part of the orange flowers near the tip.

8. Place a tiny white dot in the centre of the blue and the pink flowers and around the outside of some of the blue and the pink petals.

9. Using your fine brush, dip it in a tiny bit of green and also in some white polish and paint leaves in any black spaces on the nail.  The effect should be some tiny streaky leaves.

10. I could have stopped there, but I thought my orange and yellow flowers didn’t look very realistic so using my light coral polish I added a little dot in the middle of each of the orange flowers to blend them in a bit better.

11. Finally, apply your top coat in gloopy dabs over the top so you are careful not to smudge your hard work.


There you have my predictions for what will be hot even before next summer, and how you can have couture within your reach.  Give it a go and if you post your photos, tag them @tillynailart so I can see how you get on.

Strong Nails – the Long and the Short of it

When someone tells me they’re a dentist, I immediately cover my teeth.
Blue Scaled Gradient Nails
When I cook for a chef I become a nervous wreck.  When friends talk to me about nailart they hide their nails as though ashamed by how weak or chipped they are.  I may be a perfectionist about my own nails, but that certainly doesn’t mean I expect the same from everyone else.

Having said that, if you’ve got weak nails and you’d like to know how I keep my nails strong then I’ve got 7 tips for you.   However, if you happen to be hypersensitive, stop reading now.  What I’m about to write might offend those who are unwilling to change old habits.

People often assume that having my nails constantly painted would weaken or ruin them.  The truth is I haven’t had my nails naked for longer than 20 minutes in over a year and just yesterday someone remarked that they were as strong as metal.  So, how is it done?  How can you show your nails the love they deserve?

Valentine's Day Love Nails

1. Steer clear of nail biting experiences

I’ll never forget this one moment when I was little – I was about 5 years old and I was dressed up in my leotard and ballet skirt ready to do a ballet recital.  The nerves must have been getting to me because I was biting my nails down to the quick.  At that point my mother said ‘don’t bite your nails or you’ll have ugly hands when you’re older.’  Vanity must have gotten the better of me even then because I stopped biting that instant and have never done it since.  If you’re a nail biter – stop.

2. Short and sweet

If your nails are very weak, cut or clip them regularly – not so that they are super short, but don’t let them get too long until they’ve built up their strength.  This will take time, so be patient.  I would avoid filing your nails if they are very weak as this will only make them more prone to split. For advice on what shapes to opt for read Nail Shapes 101.

3. Milk them for all they’re worth

The calcium in milk does wonders for your nails.  You’ll need to have more than merely a dash in your coffee or tea, but a bowl of cereal or a yoghurt in the morning or a hot chocolate or latte every other day will help.  If you can’t have dairy then make sure you’re getting your calcium elsewhere – it’s not just your nails that need it.  Your teeth, bones and metabolism will all reap the benefits.

4. Stay back from shellac

They may look great, but beware of the harm that gel manicures can have to your nail tissue.  To remove shellac, Jenna Hipp, a Los Angeles-based celebrity nail stylist writes, ‘Many manicurists have their clients soak nails and hands in acetone, which absorbs into the body and into the bloodstream.  Others file down with a drill, often leaving the natural nail paper thin and in desperate need of a nine-month-to-a-year healing process.’  I would strongly advise that you steer clear of shellac (sorry…don’t hate me!).  You may be wondering how you can achieve that professional, long lasting manicure without it, well, look no further – read How to Make a Manicure Last a Week and 4 Tips to Make Your Manicure Look Professional.

5. Lay it on thick

When painting your nails, by the time you’ve put on your base coat, two coats of colour, whatever design you’re going for and the top coat, it’s no wonder that your nails are stronger.  It’s like they’re covered tip to cuticle in body armour.  For an extra tough finish, I use Seche Vite top coat which blobs on in a thick gloop so it doesn’t smudge my design and the best thing about it is that it dries super fast.

6. Softly, softly, catchy monkey

If you’re feeling weak and vulnerable, there’s nothing like a bit of pampering to make you feel better again.  Your nails are the same.  Use a hand moisturiser every day to help replenish your nails.  It will also keep your hands looking young and beautiful, so what’s stopping you?

7. Strength from within

The points above will help your nails regain their strength, but if you want to see even quicker results I recommend taking a nail supplement.  Supermarkets and pharmacies do their own brand versions but I use Perfectil as my daily vitamin which is for skin, hair and nails and I am certain that it’s for this reason that my nails never split or break.

If you’ve made it this far then you’re clearly strong enough to take on my advice and I’m sure your nails will follow suit in no time.

Six Simple Stripe Nailart Tutorials

The wonderful thing about nailart is that you don’t always need specific nailart equipment to make your nails look striking.

The following six designs were achieved using only nail varnish and a reasonably steady hand. So if you’re a first timer, why not have a try at one.

Vertical Stripe Gradient Nailart Tutorial
Staircase StripesNailart Tutorial
One Diagonal Stripe Nailart Tutorial
Spiky Stripy Nailart Tutorial
Candy Cane Stripes Nailart Tutorial
Chevron Nailart Tutorial

A few of these were actually some of my very early creations – I’m sure you’ll spot which ones those are!


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I love this design. It is so eye-catching with the faux highlight down the centre, and yet, deceptively simple to achieve.

You’ll need a base coat, top coat and two or three shades of the same colour, plus a white polish.

1. Paint your base coat.

2. Follow up with two coats of your darkest colour. I used Bewitching by Revlon.

3. Then choose your next lightest shade and paint a wide strip down the middle of your nail in such a way that two stripes of your darkest colour still show either side. For this I’ve used Fuscia Fever by Revlon.

4. Proceed with your lightest colour and paint a strip down the middle of your nail, slightly thinner than the previous one. I chose Sweet Tart by Revlon for this.

5. Take your white nail varnish, here I used White on White by Revlon, and, making your brush very wide and flat by dragging it along the rim of the bottle on both sides of the brush, take the thin edge of the brush and paint a straight line down the centre of the nail.

6. Seal with your top coat and there you have it!


a) If you have lots of colours of nail varnish then try a different colour gradient on each nail.

b) Try a gold or silver stripe down the centre of your nail for an extra sparkly finish.

c) Rather than having all the stripes as vertical lines on your nails, mix it up by having some nails with diagonal or horizontal lines for an added artistic flair.


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All you need is a base coat, top coat and three nail varnish colours.

1. Prep your nails with a base coat.

2. Give your nails two coats of your background colour, in this case Sweet Tart by Revlon. For tips on how to master a solid base check out How to Make a Manicure Last a Week.

3. Next, take your second colour – in my case Lilac Pastelle by Revlon and paint three vertical lines of different lengths, starting with the longest. It can be about three quarters of the length of the nail and should touch and be parallel to one side edge of your nail and finish at the tip. The second stripe should be in the middle of your nail and be shorter than the first stripe. The third stripe should be the shortest of the three and should touch the other edge of your nail. What you then have is a staircase of three steps.

4. Repeat the above step with your third colour. I went for a glittery gold called Sequins by Revlon but you could just as easily choose an opaque colour. With your third colour, each staircase step should be shorter than the one you are painting over.

5. Seal with a top coat and leave to dry.

There you have it – super simple but a striking finish.


a) Why not choose three shades of the same colour and begin with the lightest and end with the darkest so you have a colour gradient on your nail.

b) If you’re feeling daring then have a go with four or more colours on each nail so you still have three steps but each step is made up of multiple colours.

c) Alternate your nails so some staircases go down your nails and others go up your nails.

d) If you can make your brush have a thin edge, then try out more than three steps – you could have five or six.


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All you need is a base coat, a top coat and two colours.

1. Lay down your base coat.

2. Paint two coats of your background colour – I opted for Frostiest Pink by Revlon.

3. Paint a diagonal stripe of your second colour beginning about half way along the edge of your nail and taking it right to the opposite corner. Here I’ve used Sparkling by Revlon which in fact needed two coats to make it sparkly enough. Then fill in any gap towards the edge and the tip.

4. Finish off with a top coat and wait until they’re dry.

So quick and easy but definitely eye-catching.


a) You could use three colours and paint a thinner second stripe on top of and parallel with the first so part of the first stripe is covered. If you then chose different shades of the same colour you would have a fun gradient pattern.

b) Try painting your stripe so that it finishes in the middle of your nail and do the same on the other side so that you end up with an arrow design.

c) You could paint polka dots along the edge of the stripe.


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For this one you just need a base coat, a top coat and any three colours.

1. Paint your base coat.

2. Follow with two coats of your background colour, in this case Bewitching by Revlon.

3. Using your second colour, I used Knockout by Revlon, paint a series of short diagonal stripes along the tip of your nail, each the same length. The effect will be a zig-zag pattern.

4. Repeat step 3 with your third colour using shorter stripes. I’ve used Pink Friday by OPI. Normally I wouldn’t recommend putting such a light colour on top of black, but this one is very opaque.

4. Top it off with your top coat and relax while they dry.

Who would have thought it was that simple?


a) If you have lots of colours you want to use then you could do one layer of zig-zag stripes but use a different colour for each stripe.

b) You could continue the short stripes along one edge of your nail as well, or even around the entire nail to give a spiky border.

c) If you used three shades of the same colour then you would have a gradient effect on your nail. Imagine using blues – it would look like waves in the sea.


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All you need for this one is your base and top coat and two colours.

1. Prepare your nails with your base coat.

2. Lay down two coats of one of your colours – in this case Pink Friday by OPI.

3. Paint two diagonal stripes in your second colour beginning in the middle of your cuticle. I went for Dreamer by Revlon.

4. Paint on your top coat and you’re all set!


a) If you can master a thin brush by making it flat and wide and using the thin edge, then try painting a third coloured line down the middle of each stripe.

b) You could do polka dots in a third colour along the background colour.

c) Bear this in mind for perfect candy cane Christmas nails and opt for red and white stripes.


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For this you need your base coat and top coat and three nail varnish colours.

1. Get your base coat down.

2. Layer on two coats of your background colour. I’ve gone for White on White by Revlon.

3. Next, using your second colour, paint two converging stripes starting at the edges and finishing in the centre. I went for Fearless by Revlon.

4. Repeat step 3 using your third colour, but painting thinner stripes nearer to the tip. I used Urban by Revlon.

5. Seal with your top coat and relax while they dry.

It’s so quick and easy but will have everyone wondering how you managed it.


a) You could go for more than two colours for your chevrons and start much further up the nail.

b) Why not do the same design but use a series of tiny polka dots instead of stripes.

c) You could make it a much deeper V shape and start at one corner of your cuticle and finish in the middle of the tip and then do the same from the other side.

I hope these six designs have inspired you to give nailart a go. There are so many variations for each one and I’d love to see what you come up with, so upload your photos onto Instagram and tag @tillynailart so I can check them out. Happy painting!

For a bonus seventh simple stripe design check out an Introduction to Nailart for my mod-inspired nailart tutorial.

21 Benefits of Nailart

As if you needed persuading, here are a few reasons to get into nailart – you can’t even count them on all your painted fingers and toes!

1. A creative outlet

All too often I hear people complaining about not having a hobby or not having enough opportunities to utilise their creativity.

I recently came across Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which outlines a human being’s five main requirements.

What I find so interesting is that creativity is at the top – although it may be the least essential for our survival, it seems to be the final contributing factor to that sense that we have all our ducks in a row. I guess that’s what nailart is for me – a reminder that all my other needs are fulfilled.

I find it amazing to read through each level and I feel so grateful to God when I realise how much I actually have.

2. Alone time for introverts

This one might not be relevant for everyone but I still think that most people appreciate some alone time. I absolutely love it and having painted nails is proof to myself that I have had time to myself each week.

3. It keeps you young

Research shows that when we stimulate our creativity we actually produce new brain cells which would otherwise deteriorate with age. Frank Herbert wrote that ‘creativity keeps the creator alive’ so for a long life, get painting your nails! I’ve also found that while seeking out inspiration for new designs each week my mind remains active, constantly learning and more in tune with what’s going on culturally.

4. Overcome a personal hurdle

If there’s a nailart technique that I think is too tricky or perhaps I’ve failed to master previously, the feeling when I make an improvement on my last attempt is so satisfying – a real personal achievement.

5. Receive affirmation

Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages outlines the five ways in which we give and receive love: touch, time, gifts, acts of service and words of affirmation. I think I only realised recently how important affirmation is for me. And what’s great about nailart is that people really start to take an interest in your nails and compliment the colours or the design or your technique. There are so many things people notice and it fills my affirmation tank to bursting!

6. Give yourself a lift

If I’m feeling down, painting my nails gives me a huge boost – not just mentally with the sense of achievement I feel afterwards, but also, every time I then look down at my nails I can’t help but feel happy.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Nails

I find myself looking at my nails so much – typing away at work, or putting my bank code in while paying for something, or when I push the button for the lift – it makes me feel so good inside.

7. A talking point

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been at a party, the conversation has become stilted and the topic of nailart has literally saved the day. Partly because it’s one topic I can probably talk about for hours on end!

8. No dresscode theme is too tricky

Shock horror – that party invitation has come through the post with some ridiculous dress code theme and I have absolutely nothing to wear. And I don’t even mean that in the way that the thought crosses my mind but in reality I have three or four options in my head as possible back-ups. I mean nothing. Zilcho. Diddlysquat.

Suddenly, it’s as though trumpets fanfare in my head – ‘NAILART TO THE RESCUE!’ It can literally save you from even the most obnoxious dressing up themes.

9. It gives you steady hands

The more you practice, the better you’ll be. Your hands may be shaky the first few times but the more you do it, the more you’ll notice improvements in your concentration, ambidextrous-ness and steadiness.

10. Compulsory relaxation while they dry

Surely one of the best reasons to paint your nails is that you have to pause afterwards. Quite frankly it’s obligatory and would be rude not to. In the busy-ness of day-to-day life who doesn’t appreciate an excuse for a mega chill?!


11. Planning your next design gives you a buzz

I’m sitting on the underground gazing into space and my mind starts to wander. Suddenly, a vague thought will sprout in my head and I’ll realise I’m forming the beginnings of a nailart design. A light will switch on in my head and the idea will grow and develop and I can’t help but get excited about getting home and giving it a try.

12. It populates your social media

I can’t even remember the last time I did something remotely Facebook-envy-worthy. Friends are posting trips to exotic locations and quirky nights out and FOMO is beginning to rear its ugly head. NEVER FEAR – NAILART IS HERE! (Is it just me or is nailart starting to sound like a wannabe superhero?!)

Probably getting too big for its boots!

But seriously, the beauty with nailart is that it is beauty worth sharing, so get it out there on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and let the world see it!

13. An update to any outfit

Whatever you’re wearing, if you have beautifully painted nails it can’t help but make your outfit pop. And, in opting for different colours each week it actually encourages me to wear a wider range of clothes – sometimes I’ll even wear items that I haven’t worn in months, or normally wouldn’t feel I could pull off. Seriously – who wouldn’t be up for an updated wardrobe every week?!

14. Achievement builds confidence

For me personally, nothing quite compares to that feeling of achievement when I successfully complete a design that had previously intimated me. It spurs me on to the next venture and gives me confidence to tackle other challenges.

15. Your nails look beautiful

Need it be said that with painted nails you are always surrounded by beauty and you begin to notice details and colours in so many other things around you too.

16. They tell a story

My memory isn’t the best. But I have found that by taking my circumstances and portraying them through nailart I can look back at photos and, like a journal, can remember events that took place at that time, how I was feeling, who I chatted to, and generally what was going on in my life. In the same vein, they enable others to have a small window into my life too.

Paris left

17. It brings out a surprising side in men

I must say, this isn’t a benefit I had expected with nailart but I have found men to be as intrigued as women when it comes to nailart – if not more so. Not that any of them would ever adopt my designs but one male friend has explained that nailart causes men to notice a woman’s femininity. Another even said that he became quite emotional looking at photos of my nails!

18. Creativity leads to vision in other areas

When your mind is filled with the excitement of creativity you can’t help but apply it to all areas of your life and to see things in new ways. As Maya Angelou wrote ‘you can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.’ Since getting into nailart I have had a more visionary approach to my work, enabling me to think more outside the box when brainstorming projects in my job.

19. Enjoyment

I find painting my nails immensely therapeutic. I feel like I have been spoiled with a spa treatment. I get a huge amount of enjoyment from the whole process.

20. It is a blessing to others

With painted nails, not only do you bless others around you by enhancing the aesthetics of their surroundings, but when you get good at nailart you can bless your friends by painting their nails too. You get to spread the love – a huge honour!


21. Creativity connects you with God

In my opinion, the best benefit of all when it comes to nailart is that it enables me to feel closer to God. Julia Cameron articulates it far better than me when she writes,

There is an indwelling, underlying creative power infusing all of life, including ourselves. When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the Great Creator working with us and within us … We ourselves are creations. We are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves … Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using creativity is our gift back to God.

What an immense privilege.

If this has convinced you to give it a go then why not read an Introduction to Nailart to help you get started.

7 Top Tips for Before and After Nailart

Here are my 7 top tips for before and after you paint your nails. These come after much revelation and with lots of love!

1. Research well

If you’re thinking about trying some nailart have a good hunt around Pinterest, Instagram and nailart blogs for ideas and then work out what you feel like doing. This might be affected by an event you have coming up or what nail varnish colours you have available.

When you’ve chosen your design think through what order the various components need to be applied in and plan it all in your head first. Bear in mind that it is often safer to use lighter colours as the background and then to put darker colours on top, otherwise you risk dark sections showing through.

2. Have a practice

If I am trying something new I always have a practice run on a scrap piece of paper first. This is great if you are using nailart pens too because you can never be too sure how thick or fast the varnish will come out of the nib.

3. Easy cuticle perfection

If you need to remove old nail varnish before starting then kill two birds with one stone and push your cuticles down with the cotton pad as you go. Here are more tips on how to achieve beautiful cuticles.

4. Check your toes

It’s so annoying when you finish painting your finger nails and realise you can’t take off the varnish on your toe nails for a week without risk of losing some of the varnish on your hands. Before painting your finger nails, always check your toes first. (Obviously gloves can be worn while removing toe nail polish to avoid ruining your fingers.)

5. Go to the loo

There’s nothing worse than spending an hour painting your nails only to realise when you finish that you need the loo and can’t undo your zip or pull down your tights without ruining your beautiful work! Remember to go before you start.

6. Have an activity planned

It’s good to have something planned for the hour or so that you will be out of action while your nails dry. Have a magazine at the ready for when you finish or have your laptop set up with a good movie. Typing on your phone or checking social media can be a good option too if you can master how to do it without knocking your nails against one another.


Personally I like to get completely ready for bed and paint my nails last thing at night so the only thing I need to do afterwards is switch off my bedside light. Then I place my hands over my duvet on my chest as though I’ve been mummified and fall asleep. I know not everyone sleeps still so if you’re a wriggler this method isn’t advised!

7. Test your nails

Often people will test to see if their nails have dried by touching them with the skin part of their fingers or on their lips but doing this won’t give you an accurate result and in reality you probably have another 20 minutes or so to wait until they are completely dry. The best way to test them is to touch nail to nail, very carefully. You’ll easily be able to tell if they are tacky and still risk being dented or smudged.


For more tips see Introduction to Nailart.

Introduction to Nailart

Embarking on nailart can seem pretty daunting. Perhaps you think it’s something only professionals can do, or you worry that you need loads of equipment to make it work, or that it takes hours on end. Well, I’ve come up with a few helpful hints to make it easier than you imagined and to help you avoid the pitfalls that I made.

Sparkly Glitter Placement Nails

1. Know your canvas

What I found most helpful when I was starting out with nailart was the fact that I’d had a fair amount of practice at painting my nails normally. I hadn’t realised how much of a help this was until recently. But I can’t emphasise enough how useful it is if you’re able to get a good base down, otherwise it’s very easy to make simple mistakes like failing to get colour on all of your nail and you end up leaving a wide gap on the far side of your nail that you can’t see as easily. The result is very unbalanced and means you have a much smaller canvas to which you can add your intricate details. If you are very new to painting your nails I would recommend getting practice at this first before embarking on any adventurous designs. See 4 Tips to Make your Manicure Look Professional and How to Make a Manicure Last a Week for some help on mastering a manicure. Or watch this to see how it’s done.

2. Plan your design

There are so many sources of inspiration for nailart. I like to spend a week planning my next venture, earnestly scouring Instagram and Pinterest for ideas. I take screen shots of any that I really like so that when I sit down to paint my nails I just need to scan through and find my favourite one. I then work out what colours I want to use and plan what order each of the details need to be applied.

3. Prepare your materials

Get all your varnishes and equipment lined up and within easy reach so you don’t risk smudging your nailart as you get up to fetch some other varnish you need half way through.


4. Practice your pattern

I advise getting a scrap piece of paper and practicing your design, firstly to work out if you’re able to do it, secondly to see if the colour combination looks good and lastly, if you’re using a nailart pen, to judge how fast the varnish comes out of it.

5. Don’t be afraid to fail

The most important thing I’ve learnt is that nailart is supposed to be fun and if I get half way through a design and find it’s not working – either because my technique isn’t good enough for the chosen design or because I decide I don’t like it – I grab the nail varnish remover and start again. It’s good to have a goal that you can work towards and I find it so encouraging to track my improvements and progress with each tillynailart manicure.


This is one of my favourite designs to date. It is also one of the simplest ones to do.


All you need is a base coat, a top coat and three different colours to try it. Using the colours above, having prepped your nails with base coat, apply white nail varnish to each of your nails, then paint two horizontal stripes in black starting in the middle of your nail – don’t worry too much if you go over the half way point. Then paint a vertical pink stripe through the middle of your nail and, still using pink, paint over any white remaining between the pink stripe and the edge of your nail. Seal with a top coat and let it dry.

If you’re just beginning on your nailart adventure then give this one a go and let me know how you get on.

Recommended Nailart Equipment

As you hone your nailart skill you may want to build up the equipment you have available to enable you to try a variety of nailart designs and techniques. I recommend having the following:

1. Base coat and top coat


If you’ve read any of my other posts you will know the emphasis that I place on these. I like the Quick Dry base coat by Revlon and Pro Super Wear top coat by Rimmel which has now been renamed Finishing Touch. I personally don’t find the 2 in 1 base and top coats to be at all effective.

2. A selection of nail varnishes in a wide range of colours


I have found having a black and a white very helpful as they are used in so many nailart designs. There are plenty of good brands available on the market. Personally I find Essie can be quite transparent. OPI gives excellent coverage but can be fairly expensive. I like Revlon as it gives a strong, vibrant finish with only two coats and I often find it in a 3 for 2 offer.  Fragrance Direct offer good discounts on nail polish.

3. A few nailart pens


To begin with I was attempting nailart with no nailart pens at all and was wholly reliant on a nail varnish brush. I tried using a cocktail stick but it was incredibly time consuming with poor results. It is possible to execute some basic nailart designs using just a brush but the finished product is rarely neat and generally far from perfect. If I were to recommend one nailart pen colour it would be black. The brands I use are Nail Art and Nails Supreme.

4. Glitter nail varnishes


These aren’t essential but can often complete a design or at least add a little bit of sparkle if you want to make a gradual branch into nailart. Again, I have found Revlon to have some good colours.

5. Sequins


Nowadays the variety of nail rhinestones, caviar, glitter etc is prolific. They can be pretty fiddly but are easier to master with both hands than a nailart pen. It is rare that a sequinned manicure will be very resilient but if you re-apply your top coat regularly then they tend to last longer.

6. Sponges


These cosmetic sponges are only necessary if you want to try an ombre effect which fades from one colour to another. It is a fun and fairly simple manicure and always gets noticed.

7. Hole punch reinforcements


If you want to go for a variation on a French manicure then these hole punch reinforcements can be very useful in helping you keep to neat lines but you need to make sure that your nails have completely dried before applying them.

There you have some initial recommendations. See More Recommended Nailart Equipment for further ideas.