Inspired by my sister, who never has a naked nail, and her effortlessly cool manicures with funky designs, I decided to stop limiting my manicures to just one color. While creating intricate designs can be time-consuming (and difficult), layering polishes or experimenting with contrasting colors keep your nails fresh and interesting. This winter, I encourage everyone to get creative with their nails and use them as the ultimate accessory—if you don’t like a look, it’s easy enough to start over and try something new the next day. Quick Tip: Feeling shy or running short on time? Incorporate these ideas into one or two accent nails instead of gussying up the entire hand.
Christmas Eve: For a super-festive look, start with two coats of a bright, vibrant red like Essie Nail Polish in She’s Pampered ($8). Top with a chunky gold glitter polish with different shapes and sizes, like Orly’s Nail Lacquer in Too Fab ($10), for a subtly varied look on each nail. The clear base of this polish won’t diminish the red’s richness, either.
Starry Night: Transform an old shade into an all-new one with a shimmery glitter top coat of a similar hue. Start with two coats of Maybelline Nail Lacquer in Onyx Rush ($2.99), then apply one or two coats of Ciaté Paint Pot in Jewellery Box ($15). The polish’s black shimmer will show over the dark base, while its lighter glitter flecks will create subtle contrast.
Red Suede Jacket: Mix things up by skipping the predictable shine. Add NYC Matte Me Crazy Mattifying Top Coat ($1.50) over one of Julep’s shimmery suede polishes, like Minka ($14), a beautiful red/brown, to create an unexpectedly lavish effect.
Clashed Accent: Combining red and green doesn’t have to scream Christmas. MAC Glamour Daze Nail Lacquer in In the Limelight ($17.50), a soft mint green, pairs well with Julep Nail Color January ($14), a bright red/orange. Use January on your ring fingernail and Apple and Custard on the rest of your nails to create a sophisticated clash and add a pop of fresh color.
Playroom: Washi tape, which peels off easily without damaging color, makes geometric designs a cinch. Begin with two coats of CND Nail Colour in Desert Suede ($9), a dark neutral shade. After the polish completely dries, apply washi at an angle and fill the bottom (or top) half with Essie Nail Polish in Where’s My Chauffeur ($8), a fun, playful turquoise. Peel the tape off and finish with top coat.
French Twist: French manicures can be easy to DIY, even if you don’t have a super steady hand: just use a small-sized band-aid as a stencil. Apply two coats of Lancôme Vernis in Love in Gris Angora ($15), a purple-gray that’s a perfect winter neutral. After polish dries completely, apply a band-aid over your nail so the tip is exposed (you may want to press the band-aid on your skin or desk first to get some of the stickiness off). Then, apply a coat of OPI by Mariah Carey’s Liquid Sand Nail Lacquer Can’t Let Go ($9, launching January 2013), a textured, matte purple, to the tip.
Photos by Mandy Yeh