As comic-book kids-at-heart, we love the look of halftone nails. (Halftone: The various dots you can see if you look really closely at vintage newspapers or comic strips). Plus, the design is surprisingly easy and nearly foolproof. (We promise!) If you’ve ever dotted an ‘i’, you can do this.
-two contrasting nail colors (think: neon colors or light/dark combos)
-OPI Chip Skip or nail polish remover
-a top coat
-a bobby pin or toothpick
-a scrap piece of paper
1. Prep and prevent chips. Before starting, always wash your hands with an oil-free soap. (Do this at least 10 minutes before your mani, so nail beds have absolutely no extra moisture prior to polish). Next, apply a thin coat of OPI’s Chip Skip, which acts not as a base coat, but as a pre-base coat. (Wha?!) The water-like formula instantly dries and absorbs surface oils/moisture, which helps polish adhere to nails. (Fact: Oils are the bane of your manicure’s existence, causing that dreaded third-day chipping, flaking, and peeling.) If you don’t have Chip Skip, lightly wipe each nail off with a cotton ball or paper towel soaked in nail polish remover. If you have a bottom coat, apply it.
2. Paint the top half of each nail. Don’t worry about making lines perfectly straight — we’ll be covering up the middle later. Let dry for 5 minutes.
3. Paint the bottom half of each nail. If it’s a lighter color, you may have to do two coats. (Because of this, I prefer to do half+half, rather than fully painting the nail the lighter color and layering on the darker color. The more layers you have, the more difficult it is for nails to completely dry, which leads to waking up in the morning with weird sheet marks and mysterious dings.) Let each coat dry for 5 minutes.
4. Make your dot palette. Grab a bobby pin and bend it apart so you’re only working with one end of the pin at a time. If you don’t have a bobby pin, grab a toothpick and smash the tip of it onto a hard surface to create a thicker surface to pick up paint. Next, drop a sizable blob of the lighter polish onto a piece of paper. If your polish is thin/runny, let it sit for about a minute to thicken up.
5. Make 4 dots across the horizontal line of each nail (use 5 dots for thumb). Dot lightly with your paint-covered bobby pin/tooth pick. Make sure the dots are sitting on top of the imaginary line, pushing more into the dark color than the light color. This helps create the drippy blending effect we’ll see at the end.
6. Repeat with darker color. Place these dots between the lighter dots, using 3 dots for each nail (4 for the thumb) and pushing more into the lighter color this time.
7. MORE DOTS! (Gettin’ the hang of it, yet?) If your bobby pin has some polish buildup on it, clean it off with a bit of polish remover before starting this step. Make a new blob of the lighter polish on your paper and dot each top half with 3 dots. Next, dot the bottoms of each nail with 5-7 dark dots. To keep the pattern consistent, I like to add some barely-there dots to the very tip of each nail.
8. Finish with top coat. This step is crucial. If you don’t use a top coat after you paint your nails, and you consistently have chipped nails — I have no sympathy for you. It’s like chillin’ in the sun for 7 days straight without sunscreen and wondering why you ended up in the hospital with a 3rd degree sunburn. (Well, more or less.) (…Okay, less.) Regardless, this step takes 57 seconds (I timed it) and will save your manicure. I swear by Seche Vite top coat, which instantly — INSTANTLY — sets polish and creates a rock-hard, glossy surface. (Tip: For extra chip-proof protection, bring the top coat all the way to the tippy-tips of nails, swiping the brush from left to right.) Let dry for 10 minutes, then go out and impress friends with your pop-art inspired hand bling. Sexy.