May 16, 2011 at 12:40 PM ET
By Cheryl Wischhover
It's not enough to just polish your nails anymore: These days, a manicure is a work of art.
Thanks to the newest techniques and products, you’re now only limited by your own imagination. And unlike, say, a new hair style, if you hate your nail treatment you can change it immediately. The best part? You can often do it at home for under $10. Check out some new ways to update your look without spending a fortune and with very little commitment.
Stick It: Do you love nail treatments like Minx but don’t want to spend $50 and sit in a salon? Enter Sally Hansen’s Salon Effects Nail Polish Strips, which come in a variety of patterns from neon to glitter to fishnet to nautical stripes. You apply the stickers, file, and you’re done. They have a shiny finish like nail polish, are easily removed with regular nail polish remover, and can last over a week.
Green Commitment Phobes: Concerned about all those nasty chemicals in nail products? Or just really fickle? Try Sula’s line of Paint & Peel nail colors. This water-based, non-toxic line of colors is gentle to your nails and they peel off without the need for nasty-smelling removers. They don’t last long, though, which could be a plus if you like to change your polish frequently.
Layer It: Layer colors on top of each other to create completely new shades, which is a great way to use up colors you have sitting around at home. (Kate Middleton did it for her wedding!). Wet Paint offers kits of bases and glazes which allow you to make an endless number of shades and even gives you “recipe” ideas to take the guess work out. Deborah Lippmann, the celeb manicurist responsible for a lot of Lady Gaga’s manicures, is selling her lacquers on HSN for the first time starting in July; they’ll include sets of “duets” made especially for layering.
Snap, Crackle, and Pop: A crackle polish can change a manicure instantly. Add one of these on top of an existing color for a dual color, cracked, punky feel. They’re great for making a manicure last a bit longer, too, because they can cover up little chips. Try China Glaze Crackle or OPI’s Shatter polishes. (Katy Perry and Serena Williams have both collaborated with the brand.)
Creative Palette: Don’t be limited by thinking you have to paint your whole hand the same color. Paint each finger a different color, or just choose one finger on each hand to paint a different yet coordinating shade. Ombré, a technique that’s huge in hair color right now, also works well on a manicure. Take gradient shades in the same color family (like baby pink to dark pink) and paint each nail a different hue.