As lovely as getting a manicure at the salon can be, a lazy Sunday lounging on the sofa and experimenting with some nail art while half-watching your favorite movie (or reruns of How I Met Your Mother) is a relaxing and inexpensive way to pamper yourself and get some me-time.
The best thing about nail art is it lets you play and get your creative juices flowing, no matter how advanced or basic your skills may be. “Don’t let the Sistine Chapels you see on Pinterest scare you off,” advises nail artist Miss Pop. “You’re better than that, you’re smarter than that, you’re more resourceful than that!”
There are tons of easy nail designs that even the most inexperienced can nail with the right toolkit. “There are so many tricks and tools to help you get a fab look in a snap—no BFA in fine art necessary,” she says. Miss Pop’s must-have tools include some of the simplest: a small shot glass with a splash of acetone for keeping brushes clean, and an eyeshadow brush that she dips in the remover to touch up any mess on the skin.
So whether you’re still trying to find your groove (will painting with your opposite hand ever get any easier?!) or you’ve got your dotting and striping skills on lock, these tools will help you build an impressive nail art arsenal.
1Julep Plie Wand, $25
Take control of your mani with this strategically designed tool that does away with awkward hand positioning. The long handle gives you better leverage and control, with a twistable base so you can change your grip and get a better angle. The cap fits in any Julep polish, so you can use it with any color you want. Even better, the extra Creativity Kit includes dotting and striping attachments, giving you endless art possibilities.
2Kiss Salon Secrets, $10
Cover all the basics at once with this beginner’s nail art starter kit. A dotting tool, glitter and various brushes are just a few of the incredibly useful items that are included in this handy kit.
3Cutex Gel Polish Removal Kit, $10
Gel nails are awesome and make it so easy to sport a perfect chip-less mani for a few weeks. But removing them requires money and a salon visit if you don’t want to damage your nails. This kit gives you a safe at-home option that isn’t pure acetone, so it’s less drying and damaging for your nails.
4Gelish Basix Kit, $45
This gel polish set has all of the essentials you need to get an awesome gel mani at home. The lamp uses LED lights, so it’s UV-free, and there are lots of different nail art “extension packs” you can try with it—this one gives an awesome foiled effect.
5Hot Designs, $15
These dual-sided nail art pens come in 12 colors and have both a brush and a pen tip for each color, so you can use them for any of your nail art needs.
6Essence Nail Art Tattoo Pen, $2
Tackle intricate designs and lettering with this fine-tipped tattoo pen. It comes in both black and white, and simply takes a swipe of top coat over it to seal in your masterpiece.
7Ciaté London Flower Manicure in Bada Boom, $25
Shell Manicure, $25 (available in May at Sephora)
Want to get 3-D but unsure of where to start? Ciaté’s awesome kits come with everything you need, plus step-by-step instructions, to create some pretty epic nail art. We love these flowers and seashells for summertime!
8Julep Party’s Over Glitter Nail Polish Removal Kit, $28
Glitter nail polish is awesome—until you try to take it off and your nails get ripped to shreds. These handy little finger caps and polish remover pads make the removal process super quick and painless.
9Essie Neons 2014 Collection, $9 each
No nail art kit would be complete without the season’s best new nail colors. The latest spring and summer launches run the gamut from pastel, to neon, to “bleached neon,” so it’s time to stock up on some fun summery hues!