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Not all of that is in reach for all of us (I could never duplicate some of the most artistic brushwork) there's something that everyone can do among all the possibilities.
So I picked 20 of my favorite simple designs to try and duplicate. That's a full wheel of ideas and inspirational graphical designs.
You don't need to be an artist to do these, but if you want something even simpler, it's all about color. Picking the colors of Christmas can give you the same Chrstimassy look, with a lot less work. I've combined some inspirational images with some color choices from my own collection. See the "Artless nails" section for more
I found a lot of wonderful snowflake designs, so I've shared some of those in a section focusing on designs using these wonders of nature. I think many of them use transfers, but it could just be the artistic skills of the painter shining out. Either way, it's a beautiful theme for any Winter's day.
And finally, I've picked some designs that were definite rejects for the "simple designs" section. But they certainty aren't rejects in any other sense. these are the most beautiful, intricate, and advanced designs, created by skilled nail artists that I don't even hope to emulate. So very inspirational!
I chose 20 designs for my wheel, all of which looked simple to do, but effective. The source images are in the gallery below and use a variety of techniques including tape, pens, layering polish and adding jewels.
Here's the results I got on the practice wheel:
1. I used: Boots "Passionate" and Maybelline Color Show "Porcelain Party" with white velvet flocking powder.
I love the fuzzy effect used for the hat trim in this design. The powder was easy to use, although I could have got better coverage. This would not be too difficult to do on all nails.
2. I used: Sally Hansen Unsta-dry "I-rush Luck" and Revlon "24K" with a star shaped rhinestone.
This was one of my least successful attempts. I actually did this nail twice. The first time I used "Mystic Green" from Maybelline Color Show, which didn't give enough contrast between the tree and background. I also made a bad choice in tape, I used some first aid tape that was a bit porous, so got some bleeding and smudging. I plan to get some better tape so may have more success with masking in future.
3. I used: Maybelline Color Show "Porcelain Party" with rhinestones.
The design here would work better on shorter nails than the practice wheel. But I love the little tree, and would love to put it on a couple of my nails. Maybe this is one I'll try for Christmas Day
4. I used:Chanel "Beige" and Boots "Passionate" with a Sally Hansen I Love Nail Art pen in white and a pearl rhinestone.
In the source photos these cute little hats were used in a two-tone design. But they would also work well on all nails. They were easy to do, and the pearl rhinestone is a great little enhancement.
5. I used Wet 'n Wild "Sage in the City" and Maybelline Forever Strong "Deep Red" with Sally Hansen I Love Nail Art pens in yellow, silver and black.
What a cute little elf outfit! I was pleased with how this one turned out. I used pens for the details which are lovely to use and gave a neater effect than I would have got with brushes
6. I used: Sally Hanser Satin Glam "Chrystaline" and a Sally Hansen I Love Nail Art pen in red.
This was another nail I did twice. The first time I used tape (again, the wrong type) and made a mess. The second time I used pens which worked better but didn't give a particularly neat result. With all the straight lines, pens would be particularly hard to do on your own nails I think. This is one where skill with tape would be a big advantage - something for me to learn!
7. I used: Maybelline Color Show "Porcelain Party" with white and pale blue micro-beads.
This design was supposed to have "snow" written across the nail. But I used micro-beads instead of glitter polish for the background, and had too rough a surface to write over. Still, I really liked the effect of the beads and would definitely do something like this again.
8. I used: Hungry Asian "Cookies and Cream" with Sally Hansen I Love Nail Art pens in orange and black.
This design gave me a chance to use a custom polish I bought on Etsy. "Cookies and Cream" is a creamy white with tiny black specks. The name is perfect and so is the polish. It gave a nice bit of interest to this cute snowman's face. I was very pleased with my attempt at this design.
9. I used: Chanel "Beige", Cover Girl "Toasted Almond" and Maybelline Forever Strong "Deep Red" with Sally Hansen I Love Nail Art pens in white and black.
This reindeer is surprisingly easy for the effect it gives. Despite my lack of artistic ability I think he came out well. Even the ears were easy to do with a dotting tool.
10. I used: Nubar "Swiss Chocolate and Maybelline Color Show "Porcelain Party" with Sally Hansen I Love Nail Art pens in red and green.
I had two very similar designs for Christmas pudding, one with the frosting on the tip of the nail, and one on the base. I tried both to see the difference in the effect. This was my least favorite, both in the choice of frosting at the base, and with the effect I got from the pens.
11. I used Nubar "Swiss Chocolate and Maybelline Color Show "Porcelain Party" with red and green rhinestones
The second of the Christmas puddings used rhinestones for the holly, rather than pens. I really liked this effect, and would love to try this design on my own nails.
12. I used: Chanel "Beige" and Maybelline Forever Strong "Deep Red" with Sally Hansen I Love Nail Art pens in black and pink.
I started with the base of "Beige" for this santa, then painted on the hat. Finally I used a pen for the beard, nose and eyes. Like the reindeer this was an easy design, and quite effective.
13. I used Wet 'n Wild "Sage in the City" with a Sally Hansen I Love Nail Art pen in white, and rhinestones.
I love this simple tree design. rhinestones are a great way to add something special to a design and just adding them to a penned squiggle makes this design look great.
14. Maybelline Forever Strong "Deep Red" a Sally Hansen I Love Nail Art pen in white.
My pen work on the bow was rather clunky, and I wasn't very pleased with the final effect on this nail. But with more practice with the pen, and a lighter bow, it would look good.
15. Revlon "24K" and Maybelline Forever Strong "Deep Red" with Sally Hansen I Love Nail Art pens in black and green.
I surprised myself with this design. I'm not an artist, and usually avoid designs that need drawing skills. But following the design from the source picture was easy, and the effect much, much better than most of my tries at similar art.
16. Maybelline Color Show "Porcelain Party" with a Sally Hansen I Love Nail Art pen in white an green and red rhinestones.
Again, the rhinestones make this design. Next time I think I would try and really light blue as the background (like Nubar "Faded Jeans") and work on getting the black "cord" neater, but I love the overall effect and this is one I'd like to try on my own nails.
17. Nubar "Faded Jeans" and Maybelline Color Show "Porcelain Party" with a Sally Hansen I Love Nail Art pen in white.
I've not yet got the hand of gradients, but a bit of dabbing with "Porcelain Party" gave a reasonable effect. The trees would have looked better if they were thinner, and the overall look is rather messy. This is one where I needed more experience to get the right finished look.
18. Maybelline Forever Strong "Deep Red" with a Sally Hansen I Love Nail Art pen in white.
I've seen a lot of sweater nails, and they look wonderful, but complex. This was the most simple pattern I saw, and I'm still not pleased with it. I didn't get the design centered nicely enough, and the lines are too thick. I think sweater designs generally need more skill than I have!
19. Chanel "Beige" and Maybelline Color Show "Porcelain Party" with Sally Hansen I Love Nail Art pens in black and red.
This is another one where I could do with more skill at gradients, but the overall look is surprisingly effective. I think with a little practice, and maybe a different background color, this could be a great one to do on my real nails.
20. Nubar "Boyfriend Jeans" and Revlon "Sequin" with a Sally Hansen I Love Nail Art pen in silver, and purple glitter.
I didn't get the glitter on well here, and smudged some. I'm also not pleased with the bow which should be finer. But I enjoy using glitter, and would like to try some nails with this purple glitter as a gradient or covering the full nail.
Overall, I had a lot of fun recreating the designs I found. Some very skilled nail artists have put their ideas online, and it's great to try and get the expert look they do so well! Thank you to all the artists that created and shared these designs (see the images above for the links to the sources)
You don't have to have a picture on your nails to look Christmassy. You can get the same seasonal effect just by choosing your colors carefully. The next wheel some ideas of colors and effects you might like to try.
1-3: An easy way to get a Christmas feel to your nails, is to a bright, primary colors like red or green. Better still, use two or more colors together for a fun and festive effect. For the first three nails I used:
- 1: "Saphire" (unknown maker)
- 2: Wet and Wild "Sage in the City"
- 3: Maybelline Forever Strong Collection "Deep Red"
4 and 5: The next two nails use a gold glitter as an overlay on gold and read bases. I love the shape of this glitter, the long pieces give a novel effect. 4 and 5 used:
- 4: Revlon "24K" and Barry M, "340"
- 5: Maybelline Forever Strong Collection "Deep Red" and Barry M "340"
6-8: Another glitter overlay is this wonderful holographic glitter, my favorite of all my glitter polishes. I used it on its own (which took about three coats) and over brown and gold.
- 6: Nubar, "Star Sparkle"
- 7: Nubar, "Swiss Chocolate" and Nubar, "Star Sparkle"
- 8: Revlon "24K" and Nubar "Star Sparkle"
9-11: How about a bit of snow? [name] is a glitter polish with glossy round pieces of white in two sizes Laid over a blue base, it gives a wonderful snowy feel. Of the three I tried, I like number 11 most, the light blue works really well with the white. For these three nails I used:
- 9: Nubar "Dark Wash Jeans" and Nubar "White Polka Dot
- 10: Nubar "Boyfriend Jeans" and Nubar "White Polka Dot
- 11: Nubar "Faded Jeans" and Nubar "White Polka Dot
12 and 13: Silver and gold are great choices. These smooth, matte effect polishes are perfect, especially if used together for a two tone manicure.
- 12: Revlon "Stirling"
- 13: Revlon "24K"
14-18: This set starts with more gold and silver, but this time with a textured effect glitter polish. Then we have the same effect in three shades of purple. All great for Christmas or for any party. For this set I used:
- 14: Nails Inc. "Greenwich Park"
- 15: L'Oreal "The Statement Piece"
- 16: L'Oreal "Diamond in the Rough"
- 17: L'Oreal "The Reign of Studs"
- 18: L'Oreal "Sexy in Sequins"
19-20: Finally there are two that show a color not generally associated with Christmas, but which would make a great Holiday choice. I used two shades of orange, with a chunky glitter polish also in orange. The overlay hid the variation in color, so another time I would try two more strongly different bases, but the overall effect is a good one and suitable for any special event. I used:
- 19: China Glaze "Breakin'" and Kleancolor "Chunky Copper"
- 20: Cover Girl "Goldilocks" and Kleancolor "Chunky Copper"
Focus on SnowflakesEdit
Snowflakes are one of my favorites for Christmas nails. They look amazing, and say "Christmas" even if, like me, you live in snow-less San Francisco. But I find them hard to do effectively, unless I'm using a transfer or wraps. So here are some examples to give a bit of inspiration and an idea of what's possible with these tiny but fascinating blobs of water.
And finally, some of the many beautiful designs that were beyond my capabilities to duplicate. The artists creating these have used their tiny canvases to make something truly unique