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A steady hand puts nail art to the test

Posted Wednesday, Apr. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Ihave been a nail polish junkie for a long time. Long enough that my own at-home mani is better than anything I could pay for at a salon (although I do indulge occasionally). As a right-hander, I've perfected the art of painting my right hand, complete with a foolproof method of cleaning my cuticles afterward -- and don't we all know how hard that is?

But then came nail art.

No longer is a classic French or single-color manicure the norm; we can thank Pinterest for that. I know I'm not alone in envying Zooey Deschanel's nail techs (especially the one behind her tux nail art -- adorable!).

So naturally, when the nail polish market was flooded, seemingly overnight, with nail pens, stickers and other embellishments, I decided to finally try my formerly steady hand at the new trends. Here were the results.

Sephora Nail Patch Art in Orange Sunset ($12, sephora.com)

Applying nail stickers for the first time is daunting -- you only get 16 chances (for all 10 fingers) to get it right! I might have floundered at first, but the stickers are surprisingly simple to put on, and this pattern from Sephora gives the ombre affect that I surely would have failed to create with polish. It also has fabulous shine and sparkle.

Essie Sleek Stick Nail Applique ($10.25, beauty.com)

Compared with the Sephora stickers, Essie is immediately more forgiving at a slightly lower price -- and with 18 stickers per pack, that's one more chance per hand. This "Love to Love You" pack also comes with a mini nail file and cuticle stick. Side note: I can guarantee that these stickers are at least 1,000 times easier to apply than the DIY newsprint nail art tutorials online.

L'Oreal Colour Riche Nail Lingerie ($8.95, drugstore.com)

These stickers are the perfect in-betweeners for nail artist newbies like myself, because you can wear them solo for some subtle sparkle and shine, or layer them over your favorite color for a more sophisticated look. The best part is that if you do apply them on top of nail color, it replaces your topcoat and goes on over any smudges or imperfections.

Revlon Nail Art Expressionist polish ($8.99, beauty.com)

If you haven't perfected the art of painting with your nondominant hand, then this may be difficult. Nay, it will be difficult. As a nail art novice who so handily mastered the nail sticker, I didn't expect to be faced with such a challenge when it came to these nail pens. Stripes and polka dots are both pretty basic and easy enough to master with my right hand, and I suspect that with practice, these designs, and more complicated ones, will get easier. I do like that this kit came with two colors, and maybe in the future Revlon will release a product with two skinny nail art brushes for more design options.

Revlon Nail Art Moon Candy polish in Galactic ($8.99, beauty.com)

At first glance, this seems almost identical to Revlon's Nail Art Expressionist, except instead of one regular brush and a fine brush there are two regular brushes. Clearly this isn't meant for precise designs; it's more suited to accent nails. But I tried my hand at more intricate looks -- to no avail. This polish duo is great for creating complementary solid and sparkly nails, but the glitter polish is too sparse for more detailed looks. The biggest benefit of this one is that you're getting two nail polishes for the price of one.

Nails Inc. Bling It On Kit in Rebel ($25, sephora.com)

When it comes down to it, I'm more of a single-color, glassy-shine manicure kind of gal, so leather-effect nail polish with skull-and-crossbones accents are more than a little outside of my comfort zone. But what kind of reporter would I be if I didn't give them a shot? To my surprise I actually really liked the leather-effect nail polish. It's different than anything I've ever worn, and I will definitely rock it again. The decals and crystals, on the other hand ... I think I'll leave them to the professionals. It might just be personal preference, but I wasn't in love with the idea of using super glue on my fingernails. I thought the decorations would fall off immediately, but the adhesive ensures staying power. While the whole effect of this kit is full out rebel-rock-star fab, the downside is the work that goes into taking them off. If you're into gel manicures, you'll be familiar with the process.

ASP Nail Art Brush Set ($14.99, sallybeauty.com)

At first I thought these brushes would be too similar to the Expressionist pen, but I couldn't have been more wrong. The precision and freedom this set allows is incredible. Rather than rely on a prepackaged color, I can use whichever colors I want to create whatever designs I want. I played it safe my first time with zigzags, stripes and a heart, but since practice makes perfect, I hope to move on to real works of art in the near future.

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