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14 Easy Nail Art Designs That Even the Worst Artists Can Handle

Updated: Jan. 06, 2023

Get professional results at home, even with your nondominant hand.

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YouTube/Chalkboard Nails

Go grunge

This technique looks like shatter nail polish but doesn’t use any special polishes or tools. After letting your base coat dry, wipe off most of the polish from the brush of a second color. The almost-dry brush will create a punky, distressed look. Get the full tutorial from Chalkboard Nails, then protect your new mani by avoiding these 7 everyday habits that ruin your nails.

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Courtesy The Nailasaurus

Water it down

Using a flat brush to apply watered-down nail polish results in a plaid watercolor look. Its beauty is in its imperfection, meaning you don’t have to worry about straight lines in your nail art designs. Get the full tutorial from The Nailasaurus. Find out what your nails reveal about your health.

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Courtesy YouTube/kellimarissa

Try different watercolors

Start with a base coat for your nails. Drop a few blobs of another color on a piece of wax paper, then water it down with pure acetone. Simply dab the second color over the first randomly to create a beautiful watercolor effect. Head over to Kelli Marissa to find out more. Read what your nail polish color reveals about you.

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Courtesy The Nailasaurus

Use a toothbrush

A cheap toothbrush can be converted into a creative stamp for your nails. Apply polish to the bristles, then press the toothbrush down on your nails to transfer the color. Go for a rainbow scheme like this one, or stick with greens and browns for a cool camouflage. Head over to The Nailasaurus for full instructions, then use these 10 tricks for growing strong nails to give it staying power.

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Courtesy Chalkboard Nails

Start seeing spots

No dotting tool? No problem. Get creative with creating little polka dots for nail art designs. A pinhead, pencil (either point or eraser), nail, bobby pin, and thumbtack can all help you make clean circles. Stick with just one, or use a couple different sizes like Chalkboard Nails does here. Here are some of the best nail polishes that add a pop of color to your look.

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Courtesy The Nailasaurus

Find a new use for plastic wrap

Use saran wrap as a stamp results to create a cool marbled texture that looks way more complicated than it is. Find out how to use the technique from The Nailasaurus. Just don’t do a mani/pedi too often—this is the scary thing painting your nails does to your body.

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Floss and gloss

Who knew your dental hygiene tools could help in the beauty department too? Floss picks can form these abstract stripes with just a few colors. Get the full tutorial from Cute Polish.

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Courtesy Mari Lumme

Rethink straws

Dip a straw in nail polish to create a stamp for funky open circles. Keep it from getting overwhelming by limiting the number of circles you make. Get the full instructions from Mari Lumme. Here’s how to make your manicure last longer.

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Courtesy The Nailasaurus

Pick a toothpick

Wait for a small puddle of polish to thicken up, then use a toothpick to guide strings along your nail for a funky take on stripes. Check out how The Nailasaurus created the ones here. Plus, don’t miss these 16 secrets manicurists won’t tell you.

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Courtesy So Nailicious

Glitz it up

Gradient glitter looks much classier than a nail of solid sparkles, but getting the right amount of glitter can be a challenge. Use a paper towel to soak up some of the clear polish, giving you more control of the glitter. Find out more from So Naililicious.

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Courtesy So Nailicious

Foiled again

Tin foil acts as another tool to get classy marble nail art designs. Form foil into a stick, then dab wet blobs of nail polish to get the look. Find out more from So Naililicious, then learn how to file nails so they never break.

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Courtesy So Nailicious

Drag those drops

Pulling a needle through simple dots will elevate your nails to a beautiful work of abstract art. Find out how to perfect that smudge at So Nailicious. Plus, don’t miss the surprising thing nail-biting says about your personality.

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Courtesy The Nailasaurus

Use sticker reinforcements

To get a simple half moon at the bottom of your nail, start by painting your whole nail the color you want the moon to be. Stick on circular reinforcement stickers to the base of your nail so the hole is mostly around your skin. Paint a second color from the top of the sticker up, then wait for it to dry before removing the sticker. Find out more from The Nailasaurus. Learn about the new trend, Russian manicures.

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Courtesy So Nailicious

Taped and straight

The secret to getting perfectly straight lines in nail art designs? A piece of Scotch tape. Check out how Chalkboard Nails made this design. Don’t miss these genius things you never knew you could fix with nail polish.

Next, learn the steps for how to do your own manicure at home and how to remove gel nail polish properly.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest