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From pop art graphic to New Wave whimsical, polka dots can make your nails stand out. Beginners might try a simple two-tone design. More advanced nail artists use polka dots to create backgrounds for thematic designs or multiple dots to form a pattern. With polka dot nail art, little chips and scratches show immediately, so seal your artwork well and fill in color as needed.
Start simply but boldly with a two-tone design. Paint your nails with two applications of base coat in your favorite hue. Toss aside the nail polish and brush, as they do not deliver perfect dots -- at least not for beginners. Use a nail polish pen instead. These markers in a multitude of colors decorate your nails but are easy to remove. Choose an opaque hue that contrasts your base color. For an op art effect, stick with black and white. Go emo with fuchsia and turquoise. Using complementary colors, like yellow and purple or red and green, intensifies the effect.
Mix It Up
Mix prints and patterns from nail to nail. Keep the same two colors on every nail, but paint polka dots on every other nail and stripes on the remaining nails. Or stick with your dots and two hues, but alternate the color you use as a background shade and the color you use for your dots.
If your artistic abilities are more advanced, group multiple dots in coordinating colors to create a theme. Paint dots or splotches in yellow, brown and green to create camouflage nails. Do a French or reverse French manicure and decorate just the tips or bases of your nails with polka dots. Use the wooden tip of a paint brush or orangewood stick to create larger dots, let them dry, then add smaller dots with a toothpick. Try special effects such as glow-in-the-dark polish for just the dots or just the background of your nails. Highlight dots with glitter polish or make them gleam by using a metallic hue.
Troubleshooting Your Manicure
Keep your dotted manicure looking tip-top by sealing it with two layers of clear or a lightly tinted but translucent top coat. If you find your dots just don't have holding power, skip the nail polish art and use nail stickers or circular rhinestones instead. For a manicure with extra staying power, try nail wraps. These patterned wraps shrink to fit your nails.