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Use A Bobby Pin As A Dotting Tool To Create Cute Polka Dot Nails.

Nail art at home is hard. Personally, I can barely swipe on a singular shade of polish without getting it all over my cuticles, let alone free-hand any sort of nail-art design. And that’s a big bummer when you get a big a kick out of having elaborate nails like I do. Don’t get me wrong, I love a trip to the nail salon as much as the next person, but even one monthly manicure with the added cost of nail art can wreak havoc on my budget.

Buying nail-art tools to use at home never seemed viable, either. I always figured there was no use investing in dotting tools and all those brushes if I didn’t have the skill level to use them successfully at home. So, at a nail-art impasse, I starting experimenting with simple looks that I could pull off with random stuff lying around my house. Beauty communities on the Internet have nail-design hacks using just about everything you can think of: floss, mascara wands, tape, plastic bags… the list goes on. If you’ve tried some of these so-called hacks, I don’t even have to tell you that plenty of them are either hard to use or just a flat-out scam.

Still, there are a few key items that can get the job done without depleting my energy or paycheck. Even Gina Edwards and Miss Pop, both long-time nail artists whose work you’ve definitely seen in magazines and on runways, let their professional tools rest sometimes in favour of a DIY hack. In fact, Miss Pop even used a paper towel to create a textured look during the most recent Milan Fashion Week.

There’s a good chance that every time you take one of these pins out of your hair, you leave it on your bathroom counter and it ends up getting knocked on to the floor, never to be seen again. Instead, pull its two prongs as far apart as you can and turn it into a makeshift dotting tool. You can dip one of its beaded ends into your nail polish bottle until it’s lightly coated, then use that to gently place polish onto your nail dot by dot. That’s what I did above with an almond-shaped set of fake nails from Static Nails and Essie nail polish in Licorice.

You can place dots all over the nail for a semi-even pattern like the one I created, but don’t let the traditional idea of polka dots stifle your ideas of other ways to use a pin. You could go the minimal route and place a line of dots just along your nail beds or across the tips. You even could use several bobby pins and dip them all in different colors for the nail-art equivalent of confetti cake.

Miss Pop has a similar hack for dots using a tailor’s pin. She pushes the pointed tip into an eraser for a better grip, then dips the rounded head of the pin into nail polish. She says bobby pins are effective, but her method creates bigger dots if that’s the look you’re after. “Bobby pins are cool, but they only do tiny dots,” says Miss Pop. “This will give you a real polka.”

Do not get impatient when waiting for those dots to dry, by the way. If they’re even slightly wet when you paint on your topcoat, they’ll smear everywhere and all that hard work will be ruined. This goes for all nail-art tricks in general, and that’s why I created all these looks on fake nails. With a set of press-ons, I can paint my designs then go about my day while they dry down. When they’re finished, I just glue them on and go.