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DIY Nail Art Designs: Learn about Nail Polish Styles

Updated on May 13, 2012

There are as many nail polish styles as there are DIY nail art designs fanatics, and because of this there’s an ever-growing selection of styles and design ideas to choose from. There are design ideas that even beginners can do at home, while others may require a little more practice or a few specialized nail art tools. Let’s look at some of the basic nail polish styles, and how to do them at home.


The French Tip

This is one of the most well-known nail polish styles, and everyone has seen someone wearing a traditional French manicure at least once in their lives. A traditional French tip is usually done in white on a nude base, but these days French tips can be painted in a variety of colors and can even be created using glitter. Rhinestones and other embellishments can be used to create visual interest. On extensions, a French tip may even include built-in fimo slices, glitter, or spangles. This type of nail polish style can be created freehand or through the use of French tip guides.

The Sideswipe

This nail polish style is sometimes called a diagonal French tip. It’s a fun variation on a regular tip, though, and it very easy to do at home. All you need to do is paint across the edge of the nail. It’s much easier to get a neat edge as well when using this technique. A sideswipe design can also include glitter, rhinestones, fimo slices, dried flowers, spangles, or any of the other standard nail art decorations

The Chevron French Tip

This nail polish style is a combination of the sideswipe and traditional French tip. It is done by painting two sideswipes of equal size, and this creates the ‘V’ shape that chevron tips are famous for. This tip can be decorated in any way you like, and your imagination is the only real limit with this design.

Half Moon Manicures

This type of manicure focuses the attention on the half moon at the base of the nail. Most of us will see a faint crescent shape near the cuticles and the idea behind this manicure is to accentuate that shape. It’s really easy to do as well. Most nail art fanatics apply round stickers over the cuticle to create a ‘half moon’ stencil and then apply nail polish over that. When the sticker is peeled off, the bare crescent is revealed. You could also use more than one color nail polish for this design. By painting the bottom half of the nail before you apply the sticker, you could see a colored crescent instead of a natural one.

Ombre Nails

This is another nail polish style that looks amazing, but that is really easy to do at home. The ombre or gradient effect is achieved through the use of makeup sponges. You should start with a base coat of your choice and then choose two darker or two lighter polishes in a similar shade. Start with the base coat and then sponge on the second color to half of the nail. Once that’s done, use the lightest or darkest color (depending on which color you used as a base) and then sponge that onto the nail tip to complete the gradient effect.

Polka Dots

This is another very popular nail polish style, and is really easy to do. Polka dots can be applied on top of a traditional manicure to add interest, or can even be added to French tips. A set of dotting tools is all that you’ll need for this type of nail design, and of course a few bottles of nail polish.


Striped manicures can be done in two ways. The first is through the use of sticky tape and the second is through the use of nail art stripers. If someone uses sticky tape to mask areas of the nail, they are likely to get much neater and straighter edges than if they painted the stripes by hand. Nail art stripers also offer a lot of control while doing stripes, so they’re fairly effective for this type of design.

These are just a few of the most popular nail polish styles out there today, and many new ones are created every single day. The best part about getting into DIY nail art designs is discovering these new techniques and playing around with them at home. If you see a design you like, try it at home, and you may just discover a new design to add to your list of favorites.


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    • Emeraldgreen21 profile image

      Atell Rohlandt 5 years ago from South Africa

      Stripes are nice and can be done in a variety of ways. I've even used sticky tape and made stripe decals to use on nails. It's great fun! :-)

    • chef stella profile image

      chef stella 5 years ago

      I like strips :)