I’m a fairly proficient artist — painting, drawing, hell yeah, it me. But despite having a load of brushes and tools (and 500+ shades of polish), elaborate nail art just isn’t really my thing? I lack the patience for good execution, and I get bored with manicures too quickly to be willing to invest HUGE TIME in them.
But! This is a CRAZY SIMPLE way to do a fun negative-space look, and it’s almost impossible to screw up, AND chances are you’ve already got what you’ll need, so there’re no random mysterious products or accessories to hunt down at a nail supply boutique.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED :
- Your usual clear base coat,
- Whatever color(s) of polish you want to use,
- Top coat(s) of choice, AND
- Band-Aid Clear Spots!
Very helpful : tweezers, ideally flat/blunt/non-pointy ones.
- Paint your nails with your usual clear base coat(s) — mine is, as always, three coats of Nailtiques 2. Let dry THOROUGHLY. No, not just “yeah they’re dry to the touch.” They need to be DRY.
- Get out three Band-Aid Clear Spots. These are the tiny square ones that’re about 1″ wide. They’ve got a teensy quilted pad in the middle, but the outer part is very thin and flexible. Cut them in half horizontally, and then vertically, so you end up with four quarters — each quarter will have one nicely rounded edge (the four “corners” of the bandage, pre-cutting), and opposite the rounded edge, a little chunk of the quilted pad.
- Mask off the areas you want to leave nude with your Band-Aids! Carefully place a bandage-quarter on each nail, positioned however close to / far from your cuticle you like. Depending on how long my nails are at the moment, I like to place them so I’ll have about 1/4″ of bare nail. So, the rounded edge is placed pointing toward the tip of your nail, and do your best to get them centered and level. Press down gently for a good grip once you get them positioned, and be sure you get a solid seal at the edges.
- Do one coat of color, and let dry for just a few minutes — not bone dry.
- Do your second coat, nail by nail — this means do the second color coat on a nail, and IMMEDIATELY pull off the Band-Aid piece off of that nail (tweezers are helpful here, but the presence of that little chunk of quilted pad is tremendously helpful — since it isn’t sticky, it’s like a built-in tab for easy removal). You want to remove each Band-Aid “mask” while your polish is still wet — if you let it dry with the mask on, when you peel it up it’ll take chunks of your color with it. The secret to a neat line is to remove them before your polish sets!
- After you’ve done your second coat and removed the Band-Aids on all your nails, let them dry a while. Then, do your top coats as usual, covering the whole entire nail. I generally do a coat of GlassyAF — since it’s thick it helps minimize any bump or ridge between the “naked” area and the color tips, as well as smoothing out unruly glitters — and then follow with Insta-Dri. If you’re not doing an intermediate “bulking/smoothing” top coat, do your quick-dry topper immediately after finishing your second color coat and removing Band-Aid masks (remember, quick-dry top coats should be applied to wet polish, not dry).
BOOM, you’re DONE. WHOA THAT WAS SO EASY.
And ALSO! You can of course use this same process with a COLOR base, let dry, apply Band-Aid masks, and then do a contrasting color on your tips. I like to do a neutral base color like white or black or grey, and then a BIG SHOUTY GLITTER on the tips, because funnnnnnn.
Note : Depending on the size of your fingers/nails, you might find these Band-Aids are too small to get a suitably-sized arch area, especially on thumbs. (This is the case even on my quite-small hands.) Generally, I either just do my thumbs totally solid/no nude area, OR I freehand the arch with no mask, OR I use one of those round file-folder color-coding stickers from the office supply section — they’re a good size for it, but they’re harder to get a good seal with at the edges of your nails since they’re paper and not at all flexible. You can also use different/larger bandages for a different/larger arch.
Note 2 : Yes, other Band-Aids will work, but not all. I adore their stretchy-fabric Tough Strips bandages, because hoo boy those will NOT come off your feet so they’re A+ blister-preventers, but their rougher edges and absorbent fabric texture make them ill-suited for this application. I prefer the little Clear Spots because you can get a WHOLE BOX of just those squares, instead of trying to fish them out of a variety pack.