I’ve got a suggestion for really upping your yuletide beauty game and I think you’re going to love it. Ready? Festive nail art. “Hmm?” I hear you say. “Who wants stick-on Santas on their nails?” I’ll answer that. Me. Aged seven. But I’ve grown up since then and, happily, nail art has, too. A lot, actually. And, well, it’s all rather sophisticated. Think gold foil, chic colour-blocking and teensy stars – little nods to Christmas, rather than the full bells and baubles.
Even better, you can do it yourself at home, provided you have the know-how – which is where we come in. I’ve consulted top nail artist Monika Serafine from Townhouse Nails to get her top tips. First up, she says, “always use a base coat”. And while you’re there, it’s a good idea to use something that’s going to make your nails healthier”. Try Nails Inc’s Nail Kale, which contains antioxidants to help strengthen your nails. Likewise, a top coat is essential. Use it “firstly to seal in the colour of the paint, and then on top of any nail art you do”, says Monika, who recommends Seche Vite’s Dry Fast Top Coat for chip-proof nails. As for the art itself, “it takes practice”, Monika admits, but there are lots of things you can do to help you along.
7 DIY FESTIVE NAIL-ART IDEAS TO TRY
Sometimes, the simplest designs are the best. One way to amp up your favourite navy-blue polish for Christmas is to add a slick of silver along the line of your nail bed. “Stickers are great when you’re starting out, to help you get the shape,” says Monika. For instance, after you’ve painted your nails navy, you can use French-tip stickers in reverse along the bottom of your nail bed to get an upside-down crescent. Pop these stickers by Essence on your nail about 2.5mm up from your cuticle, then paint the space created in between the bottom of the sticker and the start of your nail bed using a silver polish like this one by Sally Hansen.
These have been created using a foil, but to get a similar look, after painting your nails in your favourite red shade (I love this one), dip a fan brush in a gold polish and swoosh it across your nails for a painterly effect. “The biggest mistake with nail art is being too much of a perfectionist,” says Monika. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t create a perfect star or a perfect swoosh, as long as you get the general sense. That’s where your style and individuality will come through.”
“These are probably too tricky to draw freehand at home if you’re not used to nail art,” says Monika. But you can achieve something similar with stamps. For this look, you’ll need a stamp and a design plate (MoYou’s Crystal 03 Nail Plate is ideal, as it has lots of star designs that would work well). Give your nails a good clean with nail-polish remover to make sure they’re squeaky clean, then apply a coat of pale polish (Essie has lots to choose from). Once fully dry, paint your chosen design from the nail plate with a gold or silver polish (Monika recommends CND’s Creative Play), then press the stamp into the wet paint and press on to your nails. For a full tutorial, watch this.
To make this look simpler, paint your entire nail in an orangey-red shade – this one by Chanel is lovely – then use a dotting tool dipped in white nail polish to place a dot at the base of your nail. If you can’t get your hands on a dotter, the round bobble on the end of a hairpin creates a similar look.
Like the star nails, you’ll need to start with wonderfully neat nails for this. Save time by using a tinted nail base, like OPI’s Nail Envy Strength In Colour Nail Strengthener Lacquer – this will prime your nails for the artwork on top and also even out the colour to make them more uniform. Then, as with the half-moon nails, take the French-tip stickers and apply them a quarter of the way down from the tip of your nail. Use a crisp white shade like Deborah Lippmann’s Amazing Grace and apply it over the top quarter. Wait until the white section is completely dry, then take another sticker and apply it halfway up the white section. On the small section of nail left at the top, apply a candy cane red shade like Rimmel’s Queen of Tarts. Finish with a top coat.
The lines here have been painted on using a polish and a nail-art brush, but “drawing straight lines can be really tricky even for some experienced nail artists”, says Monika. Instead, paint your nails in a deep black cherry shade like OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark and use a gold nail tape, like this one, to create the lines. Stick the tape on to your nails, then use nail scissors to cut it down to size. To keep everything in place, seal with a top coat.
You’ll be pleased to hear that this is the easiest look of the whole bunch – especially if you're not blessed with a steady hand. "It's the time of year for glitz" says Rebecca Jade Wilson at The Wall Group "so if all else fails, just cover any mistakes in glitter and you're good to go". Start with a neutral base colour, then paint the top half of your nails with a glitter polish like this one from Orly, focussing most of the glitter on the tip and painting on a lighter layer the lower you go. "A small brush and a pot of acetone can correct any mistakes" around the edges adds Wilson. You could even jazz up the look by going for a red or berry instead of neutral.
If, however, you like the idea of arty nails, but crafts aren’t your thing, or if you just fancy a good pamper, Townhouse Nails has offered our readers a complimentary glass of prosecco and extended massage with every manicure or pedicure you book until 15 January. Just enter “the-pool.com” in the comments section when you book online or quote it for walk-ins and they’ll be deducted from your bill. So, if you’re London-based, or heading this way for Christmas shopping, you can treat yourself