When it comes to nail art, we barely DIY it. And since we’re getting an expert, we may as well make the most of it. Exactly why the words ‘nail art’ and ‘minimal’ have never gone together. Not that professional precision doesn’t come with a price. Actually, it’s a hefty one, that also screams trying-too-hard. Erm.
2020 teaches us that little can go a long way. That minimalism can be loud. That short nails can be chic. That your natural nail beds can be put on display. And that you can do your own nail art, shaky hand or not. So, to master the ‘negative space manicure’, begin with this mood board that boasts of seven different styles and twenty-eight different designs. All you need? Your paints, brushes and a dose of confidence.
Best Minimalist Nail Art Ideas To Try
1. Abstract Subtract
For moments when you’d like to express yourself freely, without confining to a pattern or symmetry; turn to abstract designs. Want in on a secret? The shabbier you get, the quirkier your impact.
The Toolbox: Three different nail colors, thin nail art brush, topcoat and maybe toothpick.
- Think of a pattern and the elements you want to play with. Make sure you have access to at least three nail colors. More importantly, you will need a thin nail art brush and topcoat.
If your pattern has a base shade, begin by layering one thick coat of your desired shade. You can ignore this step if your base is natural.
- After it’s dry, begin by coating the lightest shade on your nail art brush. You can blotch, draw, line or dot on every nail, or a few nails. With each shade, trick is to be fluid but with some underlying mood or semblance. For a firmer hand, you could also use the pointy end of a toothpick.
- Continue this with the next two shades, but gradually go darker in tone. The beauty here is that every mistake adds character. So be as fearless as possible.
- And finally, finish this look by coating a thick transparent topcoat.
Nykaa recommends: Nykaa Nail Enamel
Pander to your inner child with illustrations of friendly ghosts, teeny eggs, delish pizza, your favorite Marvel character, and the like. Because kids aren’t the only ones big on doodles these days.
The Toolbox: Thin, medium and thick nail art brushes, nail polish and topcoat.
- Know your pattern and colors before you begin. If you’re copying a style, have it in front of you. Although, if you’re creating your own doodle, draw out all the variations on paper beforehand.
Begin with a base color or don’t, accordingly layer a thick coat of either color or a transparent nail lacquer. Allow polish to dry.
- On it, sketch out your design on each nail with a pencil.
- Then, with a firm hand, use a thin nail art brush to outline the illustration. And use a slightly thicker nail brush to fill in color. In case you need to add highlights, do it only once this layer has completely dried off.
- Finish with a transparent topcoat for long-lasting results.
Nykaa recommends: Maybelline New York Color Show Nail Lacquer
3. Good ol’ geometry
Nothing bolder than going back to the basics. Just imagine the impact one dot, one dash or one diagonal strike can make.
The Toolbox: Nail enamel, toothpick, scotch tape, striping tape and topcoat.
- Either your geometric pattern will be identical on every nail, or you’d pick to go geometric on just a few. Identify each finger’s pattern and you’re good to begin.
With geometry, different elements have different application methods. Like, you can use a dotting pen or the back of a toothpick for a dot, use a striping tape for a straight or diagonal lines and a scotch tape for filling in shapes like a triangle, rectangle, square… Avoid the striping and scotch tape and you’re inviting shaky, shabby application.
- In case you need to fill in your pattern with a firm hand, do it with a nail brush for precision.
- Do not begin a fresh color or layer before the previous one completely dries out. Else, you’ll have every layer overlapping into each other, which defeats the purpose of symmetry.
- Finish with a transparent topcoat.
Nykaa recommends: O.P.I Nail Lacquer
4. Your Frenchie, But Cuter
You can’t deny the class a French manicure exudes. You also can’t deny its been-there-done-that appeal. Enter the age of the reverse French manicure. It’s elegant but also experimental.
The Toolbox: Scotch tape, scissors, toothpick, nail polish, topcoat.
- If a nail art reminds you of a French manicure, but is reversed, bordered or with a twist, then that’s your reverse French manicure.
- To moon your cuticle: apply nail paint as a basecoat on every nail. Then cut an outward arc on one border of your scotch tape and place it on your cuticle. Paint a different colored polish as your second layer. After it dries off, remove the scotch tape and voila!
- To border your nails: apply nail paint as basecoat on every nail. Then, with a nail brush or pointy end of a toothpick, border your nail bed all over. Then, fill it in with the same nail paint. Rookies, this requires a firm hand so strictly avoid if you’re not confident of this design.
- To have twice the fun: blend your reverse French manicure with a regular French manicure. Or add a dot (using the back end of a toothpick) in the middle of your nail bed. Or any other itsy-bitsy element. No matter what you do, this becomes your third layer.
- Whichever reverse French style you pick, ensure go to the next step only once the previous layer has completely dried off. And finish the look with transparent topcoat.
Nykaa recommends: Faces Splash Nail Enamel
5. Label Love
Love your brands? No need to be apologetic about it. What began as a runway gimmick has actually become a major trend. All you need to do is pick a brand and go crazy.
The Toolbox: Nail polish, nail brush, topcoat.
- You either emboss every nail or just a few. Either way, the key to stay classy is to keep the label as teeny as possible.
- Start by coating the first layer with either a transparent basecoat or colored polish. After which you immediately befriend the nail brush and start labeling.
- You could turn it up a notch and play around with colors and textures as well.
- Remember to finish with a transparent topcoat.
Nykaa recommends: Kiko Milano Smart Nail Lacquer
6. Flower power
Cliché or not, our love for florals is undying. But trust the millennials and Gen-Z to vivify flowering blooms in a never-seen-before manner. No complaints.
The Toolbox: Nail lacquers, nail brush, basecoat and topcoat.
- Don’t let this pattern intimidate you. Go back to your school’s drawing book and work the florals you’ve already learnt.
- Next, choose a nail color or colors and bag the thinnest nail art brush. As usual, start with a transparent basecoat. TBH, tiny floral elements look classier on your natural nail bed, as opposed to a colored one.
- Trace a floral design with a pencil or fine marker on each nail. Then, with your nail brush begin filling in your floral design with darker nail polish colors. Gradually go lighter, only after the previous coat has completely dried off. And preferably pick a different color for leaves, petals and stems.
- You should only go intricate with your pattern if you have the skill and confidence to pull it off. Else, you’ll be in for a nightmare.
Nykaa recommends: L’Oreal Paris Color Riche A L’Huile Nail Paint
Because there’s no contesting the fact that two is better than one. Especially when it’s a dip-dyed gradation. Try it once, and watch it turn you over.
The Toolbox: Two nail varnishes, sponge, nail polish remover and topcoat.
- Pick two colors you’d like to blend. And identify which hue you’d like on top of the nail bed and which you’d like on the bottom.
- Apply two thick coats of any one color, making it your base color.
- Then, take a sponge, any sponge and cut a tiny piece of it. On a flat surface, drop the second nail polish and dab the sponge in it before it dries.
- After which, you immediately dab the sponge on the tip of your nail. Before it completely dries, finish it off by applying a transparent topcoat. Wipe out excess with nail polish remover. In fact, you could even opt for a matte topcoat for a change. This adds depth and allows the two shades to blend seamlessly.
- Don’t move on to the next nail before swiping on topcoat. Continue this on every nail. And that’s it. That’s all it takes to DIY your own ombre manicure at-home.
Nykaa recommends: Lakme 9 to 5 Primer + Matte Nail Color
Want some classy nail art inspiration ideas? Check out