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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tricks of the trade: My nail art tools

Hi everyone!  I decided today I would do a really quick post about the tools I use when doing the nail art that I have featured on my blog so far.  I had a request to share some of the things I use for doing my own nails.  I used the brushes that I'll feature in this post, in my recent Manicure Monday Feather nail art post.  You can find it here.  I do not always use all the tools because I do not always do nail art and sometimes just prefer a colored polish.  (Especially when I'm feeling lazy haha.)

*Side note!  I finally got my new camera and totally loving it!  I hope the quality of my pictures are better now!  Working on getting good lighting is the only thing I worry about now.  It was a bit cloudy today but still somewhat sunny, hopefully you can see everything clearly!  Let me know what you think about the picture quality in the comments as well please!  ^__^ *

I use acrylic paints to do really fine-detailed, intricate or delicate nail art.  It is important to remember to use water-based paints because it is easier clean up and easy to fix if you mess up.  Soap and warm water easily cleans the paint off of your brushes and hands.  Currently, I only have red and white paint.  I'm planning on getting black and maybe some more colors, or at least basics like blue, green, yellow, etc.

  I don't really think it matters what brand of acrylic paint you use, I just picked ones that were water-based to use with my nail art.  I suppose you could use this paint to actually paint or decorate and what not too lol.  I believe these bottles were fairly cheap and I only spent maybe $2 bucks on each bottle and it will last a long flippin' time if you are only using it for nail art!  I purchased the paint from my local Michael's.  You could probably find theses at any craft store though.

  If I don't want to go all out and break out dotting tools or nail art brushes, I opt out for these stripers.  I purchased these at Sally's Beauty Supply.  These are extremely affordable as well.  I like the quality of these and they have good color payoff.  I plan to pick up a gold glitter striper soon.  You could use just these to do the feather nail art, but it is a bit more difficult as the brush is a bit thicker than the ones I bought separately and if you mess up, you can't start over unless you remove all the polish and start from scratch. T^T

  These are dotting tools I use to do polka dot nail art, make little characters or faces with or any basic circle shapes for nail art.  I purchased these dotting tools for dirt cheap on Born Pretty Store.  I believe they ship worldwide and they carry very inexpensive nail art tools, nail art decals and more.  My only grip about the store is that their shipping time is very slow, I think I chose free shipping?  (I wasn't able to add something to my cart at the moment to see what the shipping was sorry!)  It took almost over 2 weeks to receive the dotting tools when I ordered them.  I purchased these dotting tools about a year ago so I can't remember exactly how much I spent on them plus shipping, but I know for sure it was no more than like $8 bucks.  Also, since I purchased these quite a while ago, their shipping time may have improved. ^^; Certainly, a great investment if you like doing your own nails.  These dotting tools are nice and sturdy and do a great job for what I need them for.  I would definitely recommend them.  You could also find tools like these on eBay for much cheaper I'm sure.

  Also!  You don't necessarily need dotting tools!  You could use old bobby pins that you don't use anymore, pencils or old pens that don't have ink in them anymore.  You can even use toothpicks to do nail art that you could do with a dotting tool.

  These are nail art brushes.  They are used specifically for nail art (so it says on the package).  These are made by A.S.P (All Season Professional) and it came in a 4 pack.  There are 3 different striper brushes, each a different size and meant for a different line weight and the tiniest one is used for the most fine detail.  The non-striper brush could be used for other things like painting flowers etc.  I purchased these brushes from Sally's Beauty Supply also.  These brushes are great, they have a nice quality, are firm and sturdy and do a great job with fine detail.  I used these brushes in my Feather Manicure Monday post.  I used the longest thin striper brush for the feathers and it worked great for the kinds of strokes I needed to do.  This brush set was probably the most expensive out of my nail art tools, I believe these were around $15.  I am definitely pleased with these brushes and would recommend them for fine detail and delicate art on nails.  You can probably find something similar on eBay or online for cheaper also.  I believe that these brushes are also synthetic.

  I use these tools when prepping for a manicure or pedicure.  All of these items can be purchased at Target or Sally's Beauty Supply.  I picked up the clear plastic cuticle pusher-thingy from Sally's Beauty Supply, and the rest of the items were from Target, except for the Cheeky crystal nail file which was a Christmas gift from a dear friend ^__^

1.  Clear plastic cuticle pusher? (I don't know what these are called lol)  It has two ends to push your cuticles back.  I don't like to cut my cuticles so this is a perfect alternative.  One end is just the plastic end of the stick, but flattened and shaped to get into hard to reach parts of your  nail to push cuticles back, or like what I do, I like to use the plastic end to scrape the gunk out from under my nails.  I like to use the red rubbery end to help push back my cuticles gently.  

*Side note:  I forgot to include them in my pictures, but I really like to use cuticle removing creams or oils to help me push them back easily and I like cuticle creams and oils such as Burt's Bees and the mango oils you can get from Sally's Beauty Supply (there is also a cream cuticle remover by the same company that makes the mango oil that I like to use too).  You can use anything really to condition your cuticles; olive oil, grape seed oil, jojoba oil, chapstick or lipbalm, etc.  And of course hand moisturizers for when I am done with my nails.  My hands get really dry especially when using nail polish remover or acetone.  I don't really have a favorite hand cream, they all work about the same for me.*

2.  Toe nail clippers by Trim.  I purchased this at Target.  It's a great size and easily cuts my nasty, thick, hard-to-cut toe nails. (LOL TMI sorry!)

3.  Finger nail clippers by Trim.  Also purchased from Target.  It has a neat nail clippings catcher that I like and clippers by Trim are always nice and sharp!

4.  Nail buffer.  Also purchased from Target.  This thing helps to smooth and even out the surface of the nails, and also helps buff and shine them.  I do not use this every time I do my nails, but I do when my nails are not very even on the top for a better polish application.  I do not use this every time because my nails can get fairly thin already and they get peely and split sometimes so this is a no-no for me.

5.  Crystal nail file.  I have used the crappy cheap ones you can buy from the store that look like #6 and the ones you can get from Revlon or whatever other brand there is at Target, but I absolutely LOVE and would recommend hands down a crystal nail file!  It is something every manicure-loving girl should have.  It helps to shape my nails nicely and leaves the edges of my nails super smooth.  If I use this file, I never have nails that catch on my clothes or scratch!  I believe my friend purchased these on eBay.  But don't worry, I'm pretty sure any nail supply store or Sally's carries crystal nail files. ^__^b

6.  Emery board.  I sometimes use these on my finger nails if I don't feel like cutting them and I need to remove some length from my nails quickly or if I am in a hurry.  I usually use emery boards on my toe nails because they seem more abrasive and toe nails are a lot tougher than finger nails.  I purchased this at Target as well.

  Well that was it for all the things I use when doing manicures and pedicures, and also my nail art.  I hope this post was helpful and gave you an idea of the kinds of things you may want to use to do your own nail art or just give yourself an at-home manicure and pedicure. ^__^b  Please note, I did not create this post to tell you that you need all these things to do nail art, it's just sharing what I use and how I like to do my nails ^__^v

Let me know in the comments what kinds of tools or products you like to use when you do your nails.  I'd love to know! (^.~ )v


I wanted to add this link because I should probably make it clear, that I did not come up with the use of water-based acrylic paints for nail art.  I actually didn't know you could use it for nail art either until I came across this lovely lady's nail art tutorials.

This video was the first video that I ever saw from her and really wanted the same results in nail art, so I decided to try out acrylic paint for nail art myself.  However, I just noticed that via some of her other videos, she uses "acrylic paint for nails" for her nail art.  I have never seen acrylic paint specifically for nail art before, but I'm sure you can find it via Google searching.  Hope this was helpful and cleared up some confusion for ya'll! ^___^ ♥

Oh oh and oh!! *IMPORTANT*  If you are concerned about "health risks" with acrylic paint used as nail art paint, be sure to do your research. The brand of acrylic paint I have is called Americana DecoArt and is non-toxic and water-based.  


  1. Thanks, I really need to invest in some good nail tools! I have really learnt a lot from you thanks :D

    Lorraine x

    1. You're welcome, glad this post was helpful! ^__^

  2. interesting! you use actual paint for nail art? :O

    1. Not for all nail art. If I can do it with dotting tools I use regular nail polish. But stuff like the feathers, I used the acrylic paints. ^^b

  3. annaaa you have the nail art tools of my dream! <3 i wish i had a set of dotting tools and brushes like yours. thanks for this post i really find it very helpful. esp when you give little tips such as using bobby pins in replacement of the dotting tool.

    also congrats on your new cam i can see the difference. the pics are sharper now. i wish the other pics were as big as the last one though :) but all in all they are nice :)

    btw does the water base acrylic paint wash of from ur nails when you shower? :)

    1. With the paint, if I messed up, I would wash it off right away with soap and water and it came off just fine. However once the nail art is done, I use a top coat over it and it seals it in just like normal polish. So if you use a top coat, it shouldn't wash away. ^^b

    2. Oh! And thanks for letting me know about the photo quality! I'm glad there's a difference that is noticeable. Also, the last picture was enlarged since I added the numbers, but if you click on my other photos they go full size in the lightbox thingy. ^__^

    3. oki :D thanks anna will need a good top coat then as i dont use any ^^

    4. Ah! It makes such a different, makes the polish last longer, and adds pretty shine ^__^b

  4. Wow you have a lot of stuff! I usually only use nail art pens or bobby pins to make patterns hehe^^ Thanks for sharing though, I never thought of using normal paint on my nails~ but I will try it out one day:D x

    1. Yah! I have loads of nail polish too. Most of the stuff I have has been collected over a few years, so I just tend to pick up stuff when I can. I recommend nail art pens too, those are easy to use and super affordable as well. ^__^

  5. You have soooooo many stuffs! even brushes. omg. I don't think I can even do nail art with brushes because my hand shakes all the time :/ One question though, I didn't know that acrylic can be used for nail art. So it can actually be used to create 3d things or what? Hahahaha Sorry if I annoyed you :p

    and oh! yayyyy. congratz for the new camera!! :)

    Bella / everythingaboutbella

    1. Haha yes I know I have a lot of stuff. No you're not annoying at all! This is what blogging is for, sharing of information and what we know! ^__^ You can use acrylic paint that is water-based for nail art. I didn't come up with this for myself, I actually once upon a time ago saw a Youtube tutorial where the gal used it. I have never done 3D nail art before, but I don't see why you couldn't use water-based acrylic paint. And thanks! I'm super excited about the new camera!

  6. Great post! Thanks for the info doll! X

    1. You're welcome, glad it was helpful! <3


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