In the age of COVID, many of us—myself included—are foregoing nail salons in favor of mani-pedis from our own homes.

However, making your own nails look gorg has proven to be a challenge. Perhaps we can’t achieve acrylics or complex designs on our own. But don’t you worry, it’s in your capable hands to keep your nails healthy, and experiment with some fun new nail art trends this summer! Celebrity manicurist Britney Tokyo, whose client roster includes everyone from Harry Styles to Beyonce to Bad Bunny, helps us out with some important tips. Here’s a comprehensive VGL guide to at-home nail care and art.

SEE ALSO: How to paint your nails as a guy

The basics

First things first: make sure your nails are healthy. Healthy fingernails should be smooth and uniform, with no discoloration. Keep a hand moisturizer in your bag to combat dryness. Make sure you’re practicing good hygiene. And you best be washing your hands already, but if you’re not, get scrubbing.

It’s also important to know what you like. Do you file, buff, clip, or all three? Do you prefer a round or square nail shape? When it comes to the painting itself, Britney says that men’s nails tend to be wider than women’s nails, which can make them “a little harder to paint.” Keep this in mind when prepping your claws.

The tools

Once your nails are clean and clear, it’s time to gather your supplies. Britney recommends straying away from complex acrylics as a beginner: “Doing acrylics yourself to create longer nails would be difficult, but it’s not very difficult to do self art using gel or regular polish.”

When it comes to polishes, you have options. If you’re balling on a budget, Sally Hansen has stunning shades typically ranging around $10 for the basics. If you’re looking for a vegan polish, non-toxic nail company Zoya has over 400 clean colors to choose from. If you’re impatient AF like me and need a quick drying formula, Essie’s Expressie line has a wide brush perfect for base coats, and literally dries in sixty seconds. It’s amazing.

When it comes time for details and designs, you can certainly invest in manicure tweezers, nail art tape, or thin tip brushes. However, Britney’s must-have is a wood stick. Not only can you use it for painting details, but “it’s great for correcting coloring overdone on the side of the nails. You can also use it for pushing up cuticles.”

The inspo

Time for the fun part! There are countless colors, designs, and possibilities for your nails. In terms of what’s trending, Britney says it depends. “Women have strong preference in colors but men care more about fashion or art designs than colors,” she says. “Men used to prefer black nails a little while ago but there aren’t any particular colors trending anymore.”

So, where to start when dreaming up a design? “I, of course, gain inspiration from fashion and art,” says Britney, “but I often get inspired by buildings in the city and flowers on the street.” Take a walk and let your creativity flow—then let it shine on your nails.

The art

If it’s too tough to dream up a design in your mind, head over to social media! Countless talented nail artists are putting nail art tutorials out every day. These easy-to-follow vids will give you a step-by-step tutorial to help you nail (pun intended) your nail art design. Here are three summertime trends that you can try.

1. Tie-dye nail art

Manicurist Michelle Humphrey, aka @nailsbymh, is based out of London and posts stunning original creations on her page nearly every week. Here, she explains how to create a tie-dye effect on the nails, using a rainbow of colors and a thin-tipped brush.

2. Crystal nail art

Cardi B’s nail tech and certified Swarovski nail artist Jenny Bui, aka @nailson7th, shows how to add some sparkle to your nails by using crystal adhesive and gel. Choose your crystals and get shining! Swarovskis optional.

3. Color French manicure

The queen herself, Britney Tokyo, walks us through a how-to for a color French manicure, one of the cutest trends for summer. Check out Britney’s YouTube videos for tons more tips and dope designs that you can experiment with.

TLDR;

  • Nail health is the most important. Get your hands healthy before you start the art.
  • Stick to simple skills if you’re a first-timer, but don’t be afraid to try something new and fun.
  • Find inspiration everywhere and anywhere for your art designs, and use social media as a guide.
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