Nail art’s early incarnations were tricky and on younger practitioners, often involved Tipp-Ex. No longer. Decorative nails remain on trend (just see the spring/summer 2012 shows of PPQ, Vivienne Westwood and House of Holland for a reminder) but they’ve entered a more sophisticated era: taupe shades with a flash of neon, graphic designs, pastel tips. We like to tone down our outfits on nail art days and let our finger tips make the statement.
Entry level arty nails can be done with a wrap – sheets of pre-designed, pre-cut sticky paper, which you apply to bare nails, twist and cut off excess, file and slather with top coat. They can last for up to two weeks. Sally Hansen (£9.29) and Nail Rock (right, 6.70) have easy-to-apply ranges in several bold patterns. Wear with a black dress and you’re meeting-ready.
THE MODERN MANI
The two-tone manicure is nail art at its most sophisticated. Try a greige base, and complement with a bright tip (AKA a smile line). Beauty blogger Fiona Houghton of Make-up Savvy has done it here with Models Own's Jade Stone. “If you don’t have a nail art pen or a steady hand, use masking tape to give the oval shape,” says Sarah Harrop, Models Own’s manicurist.
STICK IT ON
Our favourite: gems and patterns that can be stuck on bare or painted nails. For a more stylish take, apply to one nail on each hand. Kiss Rhinestones (£2.99) and Elegant Touch Dimensional Nail & Toe Art Kit (£4.95) both do this. Sisters Of The New Moon Nail Tattoos (right, £7) are fab: transfers in hippyish designs, which you press on with water.
Craft-inspired nails express your creativity. The key is to plan your design and give plenty of time for drying. Recreate this design from Wah Nails using Andrea Fulerton’s Crystal Gemstones (£7.99), Nail Studs (£5.99) and Glitter Puff Dusts (6.99). Pricey but those products will last a long time. For more inspiration, see Wah’s Fashion At Your Fingertips.
DRAW IT ON
Use Topshop Nail Art Pen (6.50) and Models Own and Wah Nails’ Nail Art Pen (£6) to draw a pattern on your nails or over polish. Or cheat with Kiss Nail Artist Paint and Stencil Kit (£8.12, Boots). This look, left, was created by Wah. Not sure where to start? “First paint a blue base,” say Charlotte Roberts at Wah Nails. “Then add zig-zags and use lots of topcoat.”