Confession : as much as I’m into nail stuff, I’ve just never had a real interest in stamping or other elaborate nail art. But I LOVE using random shit as stencils or embellishments. Today, it’s those dumb little cheap gold star stickers you can buy at the drugstore for like a dollar a pack. Who doesn’t already have some of these lurking in a drawer? Let’s put them to an ~artistic~ use, woo.

FIRST, do your base as usual. This is my typical three coats of Nailtiques 2, fully dried.

THEN, pick your colors! Your star color should be, ideally, something that’s pretty opaque in one coat so you don’t have to mess with it a lot, and so it dries fast. It should also be something that’ll be very smooth and not lumpy or grainy when it dries. Your background color should be something that’ll be opaque in one or two coats, even taking into consideration the shade of your star color if it’s super dark or light or contrasts strongly with your background color (which it should, for maximum drama). Your “background” color goes on LAST, so it should also be something that’s relatively easy to get a clean edge with — not a runny sheer, not a super thick chunky glitterbomb.

NOW, paint your nails fully or just mostly with your star color. Think about how you want the stars to go on each nail, and you don’t really have to completely and neatly cover your whole nail surface — just areas where the stickers will go. But tbh, I probably would’ve been better off doing my whole nail surface. Oh well. Let this coat dry. Not mostly dry, totally 100000% dry.

NEXT, place your stars! I find it’s best if A) you tilt them in random directions and stuff rather than trying to place them all in exactly the same spot in exactly the same orientation on each nail, since then it won’t look like you tried to make them identical and missed. Also B), if you have an arm/point of a star overhanging your nail tip or cuticle on each one, it’s a LOT easier to remove them. Be sure you get a good seal around cuticles and that the sticker edges aren’t lifting up and leaving gaps.

THEN, paint your background color! Do the first coat, let it dry for just a couple minutes, and then carefully add your second coat and immediately remove the stickers. You’ll get cleaner lines/edges if you don’t let your polish dry while the stickers are still on. If you have trouble removing the stickers without screwing up your polished nails, just keep a pair of tweezers handy and grab the stickers’ overhanging bits with them.

FINALLY, let your nails dry for a while — it’s best to let them get mostly dry so as to not smudge the design when you eventually add your top coat. I did my usual thick bulky clear top coat and then covered that with Insta-Dri.

And you’re done! HUZZAH, STAR NAILS. Next time, I’m going to dry doing my star color in a bright fine-grained glitter or a sheer shimmer, and then using a solid black or other dark cream color as the “background.” MUCH DRAMA, PERFECT FOR SUPERHERO MANIS.

Got a favorite nail art stencil or pattern? Share!