The Must Have Items For Your Nail Art Arsenal

 I often have people ask me how to get started in nail art. That's a bit of a loaded question. Nail Art encompasses so many things from, stamping to freehand to gradients. As a response to that question I  decided to compile a list of the must have items you will need to begin your nail art journey. These are things that pretty much always come in handy no matter what kind of nail art you are doing. This is in my opinion, the holy grail of nail art items. Pretty much everyone who does nail art has all or most of these items in their arsenal. And the awesome thing about it: they are affordable and easy to come by!


1. Acetone


I stopped using pure acetone awhile ago simply because it had become drying to my already naturally dry nails. But I still use it for nail art. I use it to clean up messy edges of stamping or to clean up around my cuticle when I am not using my liquid barrier. I pay about $3.00 for a bottle at Sally's Beauty Supply and it lasts me a pretty long time. If you are doing anil art this is a must have since the little bottles of nail polish remover you get from your local drugstore wont' be strong enough to cut through layers of polish or to give you crisp clean edges.


2. Felt Squares or Rounds

This is a new one for me. I know so many other bloggers have been using these for ages but I am on the late freight. You are probably wondering why the hell you would need felt pieces for nail art. Well...they make excellent nail polish remover pads! Yup. You heard right. The felt doesn't absorb too much of the remover and the slight texture helps "pull" the polish off the nail easily and quickly. Also unlike with cotton, you don't get annoying pieces of fibers stuck on your nails. I wish I had started using these sooner. It would have made my nail art life so much easier! I ordered mine from *Amazon. You get a little over 40 pieces in this pack for less than $8 bucks.


3. Liquid Barrier

This has been a god send in the nail art world! Basically what it is is liquid latex that you apply around your cuticles to protect them from excess polish while you are creating your nail art masterpiece. Once your masterpiece is complete you just peel it off and voila! No long messy clean up process. I still occasionally have to get out my acetone and clean-up brush for a few bits here and there but generally i just stick with my liquid barrier. There are tons of liquid barrier on the market right now, but the one I swear by is Ellagee Lickity Split Mani Mask. It comes in color or clear and in latex and non-latex formula if you have a latex allergy. I love this stuff! It retails for  only $4.75. And the best part about this particular liquid latex? You can use it under polish as a base! I use this for my marathon swatching sessions and it's cut back on how much times it take by half!


4. Clean-up Brush

When I am applying a base clor for my nail art I usually hold off on applying the liquid barrier until my base color has completely dried to avoid any oopsies. But I do use a clean-up brush around my cuticles with a bit of acetone to clean up any mess and to create a crisp clean edge around my cuticle. For this you need a good clean-up brush. Now I have to admit, I am pretty lazy about picking a good clean-up brush. I often just gran a random brush from one of my nail art brush sets - which is bad. Because once you have used them for clean-up they are pretty much useless for nail art. So today I will say do as I say and not as I do and buy a brush specifically for this purpose. The E.L.F Small Angled Brush is one that many a nail art blogger has waxed on lovingly about. It's cheap, easy to find and easy to use. I know some girls who buy a bunch at a time so that when one becomes ratty they have a fresh one at the ready.  You can find these brush one E.L.F. website or at Target and they retail for $3. 


5. Makeup Sponges

Do you really want to create some kick-ass gradients? Well you're gonna need makeup sponges! Yup - all those beautiful gradients you see on blogs and Pinterest are created with the help of these little guys. I also use this when I use nail vinyls (more on those further down in the post!) to prevent bleeding. To make them easier to use I cut mine into three pieces. This also makes them last a good long while. I just ran out of sponges and ordered these from *Amazon. You get a decent amount in the bag for $5. And they're latex free!


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6. Nail Art Brush Set

As you become more comfortable with freehand nail art and using nail art brushes, you will want to perhaps invest in more expensive, better quality nail art brushes. But for the beginner, I recommend an inexpensive set like the one. I actually own a couple of sets myself that i use when I am practicing nail art designs. And there are a few brushes in the set that you can do amazing work with. This set is from *Amazon and only costs $5.99 which is about how much I would spend on a set like this. More expensive nail art brushes can start from anywhere from $7 all the way up to $30. If you aren't ready to invest that kind of money this set is a great place to start. 


7. Dual-Ended Dotting Tool

I cannot stress he importance of owning a dotting tool enough. You can do sooo many amazing designs with them. A doting tool was actually the first nail art item I ever owned and it was so much fun to play with and get comfortable doing nail art. And like everything else on this list - they are crazy affordable. You usually get more than one in a set - all with different sized-heads for varying your dots. This set comes with 5 dotting tools with head on either side and retails for $3.29 on *Amazon.


8. Clear Stamper & Scraping Card

Some people would tell you you are fine starting off with those crappy little stampers that come in beginner stamping kits and are all over eBay. I am not one of those people. There is nothing that will frystrate you more and turn you off from practicing and perfecting your stamping more than having a crappy stamper. When I first tried stamping I was so frustrated using the little stamper I had been given that I cried. Literally. I won't do that to you friends. Skip over the crap and go for the gold. A clear jelly stamper and plastic scraping card will save you buckets and buckets of tears of frustration. It will also cut out a significant portion of the learning curve of stamping. Oh how I wish these existed when I'd started. Straight lines? Perfect sight of placement of your image? Yasss... This set cost $6.99 on the Uber Chic Beauty site. Get it now. Thank me later. 


9. Fast-Dry Top Coat

If there is only one item you decide to purchase from this list today this should be the one. Seriously. A fast-dry top coat is a must have for nail art. Do you have time to wait an hour between each step of your nail art waiting for it to dry? If so I want your life. If you are like me and do not have said time then you will need this product. You will use it more than anything else on this list. And it's multi-purpose because you can use it for your regular mani as well. If you've been reading this blog awhile then you know who much I love KBShimmer Clearly on Top. It's the only top coat I use now (and trust me - I've tried em' all). It retails for $6 on the KBShimmer site and it will be $6 well spent. Unless of course you like waking up with wrinkles  on your nails. The nails that you spent two hours working on the night before. If that's your look then hey, man. No judgments. 


10. Nail Vinyls

I originally was going to add striping tape as the last item on this list and then I laughed and thought, "Who am I kidding? I don't use those anymore! Nail Vinyls are the shizz!" And they are. I stopped using striping tape some time ago and stepped into the wondrous magical world of nailvinyls. What are nail vinyls, you ask? They are basically design stencils made out of vinyl that you place onto your nails (once you have painted on a base coat and let it dry fully - hello Clearly on Top!) and paint over to create fantastic designs. I am currently rocking the above design on my nails. I've tried a few nail vinyl brands but Whats Up Nails is my favorite. The vinyls aren't flimsy but also aren't so thick that they don't lay down completely on the nail. This is also where those trusty makeup sponges come in handy - you use those to tap on your secondary color of choice over the vinyl to create your pattern. You don't want to do this with the brush from the polish bottle  - trust me. It's a PITA! This particular set retails for $3.75, but I highly encourage you to browse the vinyls section on the Whats Up Nails site. They have a ton of really cool patterns to choose from. 

And that's my list of must haves. Be sure to join my subscriber list to get your free download of this checklist. You can have it to refer to as you begin your Nail Art journey!

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