Mix up your mani with these five chic looks, courtesy of Julie Kandalec, creative director of Paintbox in NYC.
If You Usually Go Au Naturale
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The look: Try a two-toned chevron tip set on a nude base, says Kandalec. Adding just the subtle hit of color lends visual interest to an otherwise natural-looking nail.
The how-to: Apply one layer of a nude shade and let it dry. Then, using two different hues, paint on a thin line of color along each side of the tips in an angled, chevron shape. Kandalec likes pairing Formula X for Sephora Nail Color in Orbit ($10.50; sephora.com) with Deborah Lippmann Crème Nail Lacquer in Build Me Buttercup ($18; deborahlippman.com). To prevent smearing, first apply top coat only on the tips, moving in the same diagonal direction as the color. Then apply another layer over the entire nail, says Kandalec.
If You’re a Sheer Pink Kind of Girl
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The look: For an elegant update on this subdued look, consider using two different colors. The end result is still clean and classic, but with a bit more visual interest.
The how-to: Start by painting two coats of the color you want nearest to the cuticle. Try OPI Nail Lacquer in Tickle Me France-y ($9.50; ulta.com), a perfect nude-y pink. Use the second color (choose a hue that’s in the same family as the first, but slightly lighter) along the top half of the nail, painting it on in a straight line. Using a small paintbrush, draw the curve into the tip color.
If You Prefer Red
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The look: All it takes is a little hit of gold to glam up a red manicure. Spend an extra five minutes and you can have an entirely different look, says Kandalec.
The how-to: Polish tips with two coats of your go-to red. Kandalec’s fave? Essie Dress to Kilt ($8.50; essie.com). To ensure the longevity of this look, make sure the color is completely dry before you do anything else, warns Kandalec. Gold transfer foil is best for this kind of gilded effect (just make sure to purchase the adhesive, too). Try Sheba Nails Nail Art Foil Pure Gold ($3.50; shebanails.com). Cover the nail with a coat of the adhesive and wait 30 to 60 seconds. Then lightly and gently drag small, irregularly shaped pieces of the foil over the nail and press into place before finishing with top coat.
If You Love a French Mani
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The look: A moon mani with a metallic tip is a fun twist on the classic. “The negative space in the moon softens the basic color and helps camouflage any nail growth,” says Kandalec. The metallic accent not only adds a luxe touch, it will also withstand chipping better than standard white, she adds.
The how-to: Swipe on a base color of your choice, leaving a half-moon shape along your cuticle bed bare. Once it’s dry, paint on the metallic tip in one, smooth movement. Kandalec suggests Deborah Lippmann Luxe Chrome Nail Color in Autumn In New York ($20; deborahlippmann.com).
If You Go Dark
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The look: Transform a deep hue into something slightly less intense by topping it with a light feathering of an opalescent polish. “The slight sheen of the accent color compliments the dark solid and makes it pop,” explains Kandalec.
The how-to: Start with a dark foundation, like Chanel Le Vernis Nail Color in Black Satin ($27; chanel.com). Next, dab on a tiny bit of a sheer, opalescent hue, and pull from the corner to the center of the nail until it ends in very fine wisps. One to try Chanel Le Vernis Nail Color in Atmosphere ($27; chanel.com).