When did nail art become a thing? This particular fad first caught my attention when Zooey Deschanel wore little tuxedo nails to this year’s Oscars award ceremony. They were so cute, so I started to investigate. Turns out, nail art has been a thing for a few years now, of course gaining more prominence during the London Olympics, during which many of the female athletes were sporting (pun intended) national colors, flags, Olympic rings, and gold medals. I loved them all.

I first decided to give it a try this year for the Fourth of July. When you are an expat, sometimes it is fun to make a bigger display of your patriotism on occasion. I decided I would try American flag inspired nails for the day. My first outing was not particularly easy. Turns out, without special brushes, it is almost impossible to do any kind of design. The basic nail polish brush is intended to cover your nail’s surface quickly and efficiently.

Fourth of July Nail Art
Fourth of July Nail Art

This does not facilitate delicate strokes. So, nail art for the Fourth consisted of different nails colored red, white, blue, with a few stars applied to the blue.

I now realized that I needed to invest in a few specialty brushes if I really wanted to get into this. Not that easy to find. The first thing I tried was cleaning a liquid eyeliner brush, but it was not absorbent or flexible enough. After checking a couple local shops, I bought a set off of eBay; it is really great with a wide selection of brushes for different purposes (I have no idea how to use half of them yet). I can offer one piece of advice: don’t get brushes that have paint or varnish on the handles, because it will get very messy if you use acetone to clean the brushes.

It is not so easy to come up with unique ideas that are not too over-the-top, or just cliche. I experimented a little. I was not tremendously happy with how these turned out. I wanted to play with blue. By the way, as an aside, the new bold colors that are popular now are just so cool.

The London Olympics gave me another reason to dabble with a little creative patriotism. Now I was able to use the slim line brush to create stripes and the dotting tool for the stars. I love the way it turned out.

American Flag nail
American Flag nail

For years, the only color I wore was Essie’s Fiji (which I believe is the pink in the photo below). I like its strong pink color, it is sort of bold without being bold. But the new blues and greens are so much fun, and I have discovered that I have a real affinity for corals and mauves.

Pink and blue chevron
Pink and blue chevron

I kept looking for nail art inspiration. Next came the cat. Yes, I believe my blog has already proven me to be a proud cat lady, with the most awesome cat that I love talking about. So why not immortalize her in art—nail art, that is. So I did. Now, Daphne’s face is not quite as long as my nail bed, I kind of didn’t get her adorable heart-shaped face right.

Daphne nail art
Daphne nail art

I decided to go back to color combos. Loving the my new teal I experimented a little with the selection of tools and created this one. I tried crackle on my left thumb nail, you cannot really tell from this photo, but the idea sounds cooler than the results.

Teal and coral
Teal and coral

I find glitter to be a really easy and fun way to, well, um, add sparkle. I tried this simple idea with a pretty orange and bronze sparkle polish.

Bronze sparkle
Bronze sparkle

I tried this one tonight. I went a bit overboard with the bronze sparkle on a deep purple, so I decided to go further and add a little argyle to it.

Purple argyle nail art
Purple argyle nail art

By far, my favorite was another nail art portrait. This time, it was a hedgehog. I love hedgehogs—long story—do not think I have ever seen one, but they are so cute in photos. And I think they are damn cute on nails too.

Hedgehog
Hedgehog

Nail art is a nice little diversion. It is a fun way of self-expression, creativity in a subtle yet overt manner. I can change it any day, and it is interesting to experiment with. Best of all, the whole thing has encouraged me to get more colors of nail polish than just the light pinks I’ve worn for years. Oh, I will continue to wear them, but now I get to wear purple, blue, peach, jade, and even red. I should buy stock in nail polish.

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