5 Summer-Inspired Nail Art Ideas
Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
All you need is a dotter tool (We like Orly's duo version, $7 at orlybeauty.com) to create the bold spots. Be sure to let your base coat dry completely to avoid making a mess.
- Swipe two to three coats of American Apparel's Neon Yellow ($6;americanapparel.net) over one base coat of white nail polish. The blank canvas ensures that the color on your nails is identical to the bright hue in the bottle.
- Once the neon coat has dried completely, dip one end of your dotter tool into Dolce and Gabbana's Passione ($20;saksfifthavenue.com) to dispense the right amount of polish into each dot. Start at your cuticle and work upward to evenly space out the pattern.
Although the ombre effect looks intimidating, it's surprisingly easy to achieve.
- Cut off a small section of a makeup sponge like CoverGirl's ($3 for six;drugstore.com), then paint on a generous amount of China Glaze's Orange You Hot ($7; chinaglaze.com for locations). Be sure to do section off the sponge before lacquering up, as it's harder to manage with wet nails.
- While the orange shade is still drying, dip a section of the makeup sponge into a dime-sized amount of China Glaze's Hang Ten Toes ($7; chinaglaze.com for locations) and dab it on, working from the middle section of your nail toward the tip.
- Concentrate the pink color at the very top. Keep in mind that this should be a gradation in shades -- not just an orange nail with a pink tip.
Sun and Sea
If you can hold a steady hand and know how to paint on a half-moon mani, you can get this pattern down.
- Start with three coats of the Kat Von D High Voltage Lacquer in Mad Max ($7;sephora.com), a multi-dimensional blue.- Using Milani's Nail Art polish in Yellow Design ($4; milanicosmetics.com), trace and fill in the half-moon shape at the base of your cuticle.
- Leave a small space, then draw another curve above the half-moon. With long brush strokes, draw a few triangle-shaped rays extending from the curve, and fill in with the yellow shade.
Miami Vice Palm Trees
Because this design can get a little busy, paint the palm tree on one or two accent nails, and stick to pastel pink with white stripes on the rest of your digits.
- Paint on Butter London's Teddy Girl ($14; butterlondon.com), and once dry, use Sally Hansen's Nail Art Pen in White ($8; drugstore.com) to draw a few horizontal lines and one vertical line from your cuticle to your tip.
- Using the Orly Instant Artist polish in True Blue ($5; orlybeauty.com) paint a curved line at the base of your nail to create the trunk of the tree.
- Paint three to four top leaves to lay down the initial shape, then fill in the empty spaces with random brush strokes to build up the top. Create more scenery by painting a thick stripe near your cuticle, and add a few upward brush strokes beside the trunk of the tree.
As long as you have time to watch paint dry, this layered effect is a no-brainer. Plus, since glitter nail polish is harder to remove, your manicure has a built-in force field from the elements.
- Begin by painting on two or three even coats of a warm bronze like Sephora's Nail Lacquer in I'm a Rich Girl ($4;sephora.com).
- Layer on one coat of Deborah Lippmann's Boom Boom Pow ($20;deborahlippmann.com), a gilded glitter with real flecks of 24-karat gold dust in the formula.