DIY Nail Art

When we saw these nails spotted at Lollapalooza a couple of weeks ago, we literally stopped in our tracks. This technique of using a variety of colors and linear tribal patterns instantly won over our prior skepticism of nail art. Inspired, we went on a mission to find the best nail art pens to doodle on our own nails.

You’ll need:

Start by painting two coats of polish on your nails. Let the polish dry completely.

Shake the nail pen several times, press the tip against a piece of paper to dispense the color, and apply designs to your nails. It helps to first practice on a piece of paper. Don’t worry about making mistakes, as you can wipe the pen marks away with a tissue while they’re still wet. When you’re satisfied with the designs, let it dry and seal it with a layer of top coat.

And . . . you’ve nailed it!! Easy peasy.

(top image via Vogue.com, rest of images by HonestlyWTF)

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109 Comments

  1. Michelle wrote:

    Very pretty! I just bought a kit myself that works as a stamp, but this looks simpler and more portable.

    8.16.11
    Reply
  2. Michelle wrote:

    Fabulous! and so easy.

    x
    Michelle
    http://www.michellesstylefile.blogspot.com

    8.16.11
    Reply
  3. I love the light blue purple combo. I need some nail art pens pronto. =)
    WIN $100 SHOPBOP GIFT CARD!

    8.16.11
    Reply
  4. Nikki wrote:

    I’m not huge into accessories so I’ve found that nail art is the perfect way to add a little bit of spice to everyday life. I never would have thought to do tribal prints though! Love the tutorial, thanks for sharing!

    http://www.cositabella.com

    8.16.11
    Reply
  5. Chelsea wrote:

    Oh, I love those. Tres chic. I want to learn to do leopard print with a nail art pen…Cool or not? xoxo

    8.16.11
    Reply
  6. Emma wrote:

    This is so great, I’m gonna try it.
    Nail-art can be so fun, it can really make an ordinary more interesting

    8.16.11
    Reply
  7. Oh I love it! Have to test it right away! 🙂

    8.16.11
    Reply
  8. Oh this is nice and easy – even I could do it!!
    http://www.noaslibellule.blogspot.com

    8.16.11
    Reply
  9. Hannah wrote:

    Love this! I’ve always looked at those nail pens, but had no idea they are so easy to use! I will have to try this out.

    8.16.11
    Reply
  10. Ooh can’t wait to try this one! Love the pastel colorscheme you used.

    xxdaily/weakly
    http://dailyweakly.blogspot.com/

    8.16.11
    Reply
  11. Katie wrote:

    Oh these are so darn cool, gotta get a nail pen ASAP!

    8.16.11
    Reply
  12. Anne wrote:

    This is awesome . I am going to have to get one of those nail art pins..

    8.16.11
    Reply
  13. Love this! What a cool idea. 🙂

    8.16.11
    Reply
  14. Katya wrote:

    Pinned this! Can’t wait to try 🙂

    thistimeisacharm.blogspot.com

    8.16.11
    Reply
  15. Temi wrote:

    That is so cool.

    8.16.11
    Reply
  16. zee wrote:

    ahh i love those so much! i need a nail pen…

    8.16.11
    Reply
  17. so so fun!!! i used to work for sally hansen… those nail art pens are the best!!

    8.16.11
    Reply
  18. Katarzyna wrote:
    8.16.11
    Reply
  19. Chic Geek wrote:

    Cute nails 🙂

    http://chicgeekblogger.blogspot.com/

    Please take a minute to look at my trunkshow;

    http://iouproject.com/tsh/jessica-karen/

    8.16.11
    Reply
  20. Ale. wrote:

    I LOVE this DIY! The pastel nail polishes look so pretty!

    xx,
    http://www.alegallegos.com

    8.16.11
    Reply
  21. Sweat Pea wrote:

    That’s pretty fantastic!

    Just a Silhouette

    8.16.11
    Reply
  22. emmaly wrote:

    i would rather use the art deco nail polishes, I don’t like these from sally Hansen at all!

    8.16.11
    Reply
  23. Angelita wrote:

    honestly wtf! lol
    xxxo

    http://angelieeee.blogspot.com/
    you can also follow me on Twitter! 🙂 @angelieeee

    8.16.11
    Reply
  24. Alexandra wrote:

    I am surprised (pleasantly surprised) at how clear and how defined the lines are form the nail art pen! I need to pick myself up one of those- usually nail art pens don’t look that good. I love the bold colour on the pastel background too.

    8.16.11
    Reply
  25. Septembre wrote:

    What did you think of the Sally Hansen nail art pen? I used it before and thought it was absolutely terrible.

    8.16.11
    Reply
    • Erica wrote:

      @Septembre, I actually really liked them. The white one was difficult to use since it was streaky and blotchy. I tried the OPI/Sephora nail pens and found the Sally Hansen nail pens to be much better.

      8.16.11
  26. meredith wrote:

    i just went to walmart and got the pink nail pen (i was bummed they didn’t have purple!) and my toes were already mint green…so cute!! thanks for always sharing your inspiration!!

    8.16.11
    Reply
  27. Love this! I will definitely have to try it out!

    http://thedailytiara.com

    8.16.11
    Reply
  28. That green color from Essie is just what I needed to try before summer ends. xoxo

    http://hellofridaybypaik.blogspot.com/

    8.16.11
    Reply
  29. Jessie wrote:

    i’m not a huge fan of over the top nails but i must admit these are pretty sweet. thanks for the DIY!
    xx, http://wordbyjessie.com/

    8.16.11
    Reply
  30. LINNEA - wrote:

    I LOVE your blog! Honestly, it’s so inspiring go on to this blog. I just gotta ask: whats the name of the font on your blog titels? xoxo

    8.16.11
    Reply
  31. Leah wrote:

    I’ve noticed nail art popping up all over the place lately.. the crazier the pattern the better!

    8.16.11
    Reply
  32. Darling

    8.16.11
    Reply
  33. Collins wrote:

    i’d love to say i will take the time to do this but i won’t. but i DO love it!

    8.16.11
    Reply
  34. Jackie W. wrote:

    Here’s the problem, my left hand will look great, but my right hand will look completely different and messed up! Hmm…VERY cute essie polshes though! :))

    ClassyCleverChic

    8.16.11
    Reply
  35. Wow, those look so cute, I’ll definitely be trying it out!

    8.16.11
    Reply
  36. obsessed with these nails anddd kinda jealous you went to lolla. can’t wait to try it out xxo

    8.16.11
    Reply
  37. Bonnie wrote:

    This is such a creative way to play around with nails, thanks for the DIY tutorial. I’ll be sure to try this 🙂

    xx

    8.16.11
    Reply
  38. Em wrote:

    So cool, I’ve got to try this!

    http://fashionhacks.blogspot.com

    8.16.11
    Reply
  39. Fantastic! I love this!!

    http://www.evolvmag.com

    8.16.11
    Reply
  40. yv wrote:

    i totally love it

    8.17.11
    Reply
  41. Julie wrote:

    LOVE Essie!

    8.17.11
    Reply
  42. w wrote:

    cute!! love the colors!! thanks for sharing

    8.17.11
    Reply
  43. Ambyr wrote:

    Love this! Now I need one of those pens!

    xoxo
    http://www.thewrittenrunway.com

    8.17.11
    Reply
  44. Love it!!! So rad!!

    8.17.11
    Reply
  45. Gorgeous nails… I don’t know if I could put that much effort in though hahah

    Fashionable Collections

    8.17.11
    Reply
  46. Deana wrote:

    Ooo great idea! I actually have one of these Sally Hansen pens and never knew what to do with it, so now I do!

    8.17.11
    Reply
  47. The Girl wrote:

    If you are into nail art you HAVE to check out Wah Nails. Its a London based nail salon totally dedicated to customised nail art, but even if you can’t make it in to enjoy its services, the website is a total hub for inspiration. There are even video tutorials to help you on your way..u’ll love it.
    wah-nails.com
    http://www.thegirlisdownunder.com/

    8.17.11
    Reply
  48. jas wrote:

    this is a going on my “must try” list on my blog….credit will be given! you did a great job!

    8.17.11
    Reply
  49. Ria wrote:

    I’m so excited to see that someone is doing a DIY for my nail art from the vogue website..ii love to see poeple try out designs on their own..

    If u guys want to try anymore designs and need some inspiration..check out my tumblr..

    Rianailz.tumblr.com

    8.17.11
    Reply
  50. really nice 😀 I need to find similar colours, their so beautiful!!

    8.17.11
    Reply
  51. MrAJBx3 wrote:

    OMG your nails are so beautiful i wish i could do that, i always look like a 3 year old haha

    8.18.11
    Reply
  52. Taylor wrote:

    I love this so hard!! I just wish I could do this more often, but my work doesn’t allow nail polish. Dumb!

    8.18.11
    Reply
  53. Hannah wrote:

    This is a realy interesting technique. I am not usually a fan of nail art but this is a look I would certainly try out.

    8.20.11
    Reply
  54. catte wrote:

    Tribal nails are so amazing, I need to get a nailpen right now to do these…

    http://www.converseandchords.blogspot.com

    8.20.11
    Reply
  55. Char wrote:

    That is amazing!
    I can’t wait to try it out 😀

    8.22.11
    Reply
  56. Rebecca wrote:

    Just tried this out after a friend recommended the site. My right hand does look a bit sloppy (and I used a Sharpie paint pen with matte nail polish) but I’ll definitely be doing this again!!!

    8.23.11
    Reply
  57. sara wrote:

    what shade of the blue and green essies did you use? i’m dying to know!!

    8.27.11
    Reply
  58. Sara wrote:

    I used to do that all the time when I was little!
    x
    Sara
    THE ART TYPE- DIY PROJECTS
    http://thearttype.blogspot.com

    8.31.11
    Reply
  59. xixi wrote:

    i love it i love it

    9.1.11
    Reply
  60. Fashion wrote:

    Easy and lovely 😀 LOVE IT!!!

    9.5.11
    Reply
  61. Kate Wolf wrote:

    Absolutely LOVE this. I love experimenting with different nail polishes, designs and ideas. Cool nails are a way to add interest to any outfit, from special occasions to everyday. The step by step instructions allows everyone to get a leg up on nail fashion, which in this day and age is a key thing, the same level as jewelry in the accessory department. Its a cute and CHEAP way to update your style, which in this economy is super good! I love it!

    9.26.11
    Reply
  62. Those nails are really cute!
    Might try them for our Nail project. I’m experimenting most with animal prints and newspaper echniques but this is also really interesting

    Fifie

    9.27.11
    Reply
  63. lbugz wrote:

    I love painting my nails so in words. It is AWSOME AWSOME AWSOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    9.29.11
    Reply
  64. Mon wrote:

    Love the look! What are the names of those Essie pastels that you used? Thanks!

    9.30.11
    Reply
  65. Mar wrote:

    I found the nail pen and I fall in love! Sometimes I paint my nails as a red mushroom: http://mar-cer-alb.blogspot.com/2011/09/la-primera-caixeta.html

    Mar
    http://www.mar-blog.com

    10.11.11
    Reply
  66. wabi wrote:

    that’s so cute, but, I don’t have nail pen thing, is there another way I could design my nails like that?? xx

    11.12.11
    Reply
  67. angie wrote:

    Do these pens show on dark polish such as black?

    11.14.11
    Reply
  68. Hey!! that one’s cute!! lovely and girlish!!

    11.15.11
    Reply
  69. Kitty wrote:

    Very cute and easy!

    12.28.11
    Reply
  70. Loved this tutorial so much, I decided to feature it on my blog!
    Check it out at do-a-doubletake.blogspot.com 🙂

    1.11.12
    Reply
  71. Ju wrote:

    what essie colors are all of these?

    2.2.12
    Reply
  72. Tracey wrote:

    did you know that if you use top coat over your color and THEN use the pens you can erase mistakes with a damp towel. Then when perfected, use another coat of top coat to seal your design. Too cool!

    2.12.12
    Reply
  73. Heather wrote:

    Love this look, just tried it out for myself (with the white Sally Hansen nail pen). But does anyone have any tricks they use to make both hands look good? I’m right handed, so my right hand doesn’t look so pretty…

    3.7.12
    Reply
  74. sonal wrote:

    simply pretty……!!!!!!

    3.10.12
    Reply
  75. Nawal Alawamleh wrote:

    Anyone know the name of the colors because the link won’t work for some reason….

    4.5.12
    Reply
  76. Jennifer wrote:

    I have used the Sally Hansen Art Pens in black and white and find that they don’t dry properly.
    Even after 12 hours they smudged slightly and when I tried to put a top coat on it just made it worse.

    5.6.12
    Reply
  77. This was one of the best.

    5.6.12
    Reply
  78. Love this! Gonna do something like this very soon. Keep the nail posts coming!

    http://www.nailartlove.net

    7.11.12
    Reply
  79. Angela wrote:

    THat’s great (:

    Xx
    Angela

    http://nailartloverss.blogspot.nl

    7.31.12
    Reply
  80. Namrata wrote:

    This looks very cool. Simple and nice. Just how i like it too. Have done some DIY Nail Art of my own. Have a look at it on my blog

    http://seasoncheck.blogspot.in/2012/08/diy-monday-nailart.html

    8.28.12
    Reply
  81. It’s very straightforward to find out any matter on web as compared to books, as I found this post at this site.

    My homepage :: nail Art designs

    3.28.13
    Reply
  82. connie wrote:

    wouldnt sharpies work too?

    3.25.14
    Reply
  83. It’s an amazing article designed for all the internet viewers; they will take advantage from it I am sure.

    7.19.14
    Reply
  84. Sandra wrote:

    Obsessed with this! So cool!

    12.9.15
    Reply
  85. GbNails wrote:

    Hi,
    Your nail art lover got inspired by love colors and designs and that describes my intense passion for nail services in lucknow.
    Nail Art

    Thanks!

    3.14.16
    Reply
  86. Spot on with this write-up, I honestly feel
    this amazing site needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be
    back again to read more, thanks for the advice!

    3.24.16
    Reply