Nail art tips, how to use a dotting tool: get more detail in your manicure

by Kathy Saunders - Friday September 27, 2013 - 11h09
Spice up a regular manicure with some dotting!
Spice up a regular manicure with some dotting!

Every so often, there comes a day, night or occasion where a plain block-colour manicure just won't cut it. Detail is what you want and detail is what you shall have... if you know how. After scrolling through Pinterest, tumblr and the like, it's easy to start thinking that all those polka dots, stripes, zig-zags and other intricate designs are just for pros but, you'll be pleased to know, anyone can do them.

All you need is a relatively steady hand and something called a dotting tool.

Now, before you go right ahead and spend a fortune on ebay, you can use just about anything with a pointy tip: old pens, pencils, toothpicks and cuticle pushers for example.

How it all works

There are all kinds of tips, tricks and tantalizing techniques to try out but, for beginners, classic dots are a good place to start.

Start by applying two coats of your base colour and wait for that to try completely before you begin.

Products to try: the new Collection Privée by L'Oréal Paris

Then, as if working with a paint palette, put a couple of brush-fulls of polish onto a tissue or some paper you can throw out afterwards.

Take your chosen dotting too - real or improvised - and dip it in until there's a good amount of polish on the pointed tip, without overloading it.

Warning: overloading can lead to polka splodging instead of polka dotting.

Working as slowly as you need to, dot the polish onto your nail wherever you want it and then let it dry thoroughly before applying a top coat.

For zig-zags, most of the above applies, only you need to apply slightly more polish to create a dot that can be dragged out into a thinner line. Then simply dot and drag, dot and drag, until you have the desired zig-zag effect.

Once you get really comfortable with dotting, you'll be able to do all kinds of nail art designs, from smileys to swirls!


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