As promised, I’m sharing the Easter Polka Dot manicure that was all over my Instagram last week. This is actually my first nail art tutorial, so let me know what you think and if you’d like to see more!
This nail art technique is super easy, which is important because I’m not exactly ambidextrous. I’m right handed so my left hand always looks pretty good, but painting the nails on my right hand can often pose a challenge. It turns out that polka dots are pretty forgiving, though, so this shouldn’t intimidate you even if you’re new to DIY manicures and nail art.
I chose mostly pastel colors to go with my Easter theme, but polka dots are fabulous year round and in any color combination really.
1. Nail Art Dotting and Marbling Tools
I use a dotter set from Cheeky, which was inexpensive ($5 + free shipping) and included 5 double-ended dotter wands. Cheeky also sells inexpensive nail beads and gems, 3D fimo decorations, striping tapes, and more.
2. Clear Top Coat (base coat optional)
3. Multiple Pastel Nail Polish Colors
I used these specific colors but you don’t need these exact ones: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in “All Chalked Up” | Essie “Navigate Her” | Essie “Naughty Nautical” | KleanColor “Pastel Teal”, “Pastel Purple” and “Pastel Pink” | KleanColor “Neon Yellow”
BOSS LADY DEAL ALERT: For nail art it can be tempting to buy a lot of nail polish so that you have plenty of design options. One way to achieve a larger color palette without breaking the bank is to be on the look out for polish sets by lesser known brands. KleanColor now makes a Pastel Nail Polish Set that comes with 6 pastel shades for less than $8 (plus free shipping). And for summer they even have a Neon Nail Polish Set that comes with 12 neon shades for less than $13. The consistency of KleanColor tends to be thicker so I usually only apply one coat, and I always use a clear top coat afterwards.
4. A paper towel or tissue to clean the dotter wands between colors
5. Celebratory Gummy Bunnies from Dylan’s Candy Bar (optional)
Apply a clear or solid colored base coat if you like (optional). Choose a large gauge nail dotter (I used the green Cheeky dotter wand) and your first polka dot color. Lift the nail polish wand out of the bottle and brush the round end of the dotter against the wand bristles to transfer some polish onto the end of the dotter wand. No need to coat more than half of the round dotter, since this is the only part that actually touches your nail.
Keeping the end of the dotter wand perpendicular to your nail, dot the polish onto your first nail. Very gently touch the dotter to the nail, rather than pressing firmly like a stamp. I started with one or two dots per nail, and left spaces for the other colored polka dots. It takes each dot ~30 seconds to dry, so just place a dot and move to the next nail.
Repeat this process for every nail polish color, moving upwards towards the nail bed, and randomizing the location of your dots so that you begin to create a “stippled” effect like in the picture above. Stippling, if you’re unfamiliar, is an artistic style that involves placing dots in a close or loose formation to create texture and contrast.
You’ll notice that near the nail tip I placed polka dots very close together, sometimes overlapping them. There is no right or wrong way to do this, so give yourself permission to experiment. As I got closer to the nail bed I spaced the polka dots farther apart and I also introduced a smaller dotter wand (the blue Cheeky dotter wand) to create a few smaller polka dots and leave some extra negative space.
Wait approximately 5 minutes and apply a top coat. A top coat will greatly extend the life of your design by sealing it in, and it also gives it a shiny finish as pictured above. I may try this polka dot design with a matte top coat soon, and I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Tip: When applying the top coat, try not to linger or apply it in more than a couple of quick brush strokes. If you do, the top coat may cause some of your polka dots to bleed into one another.