Best Nail Art Kits

Updated January 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
22 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
200 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best nail art kits

For a number of people, going to the salon for a mani-pedi is a treasured treat. It’s quite easy to give yourself a quality at-home pedicure regardless of your skill level. An at-home manicure with customized designs is more complicated, but it will save you money, give you something fun to do, and provide an additional avenue of self-expression. No matter your style, there are dozens and dozens of different nail art kits to choose from.

Before you add a nail art kit to your cart, there are some key factors to consider. Do you already have some basic at-home manicure tools? If so, you may opt for a streamlined kit that’s limited to decals and decorative pieces. You’ll also want to consider your personal style and whether you prefer a colorful set or something neutral.

At BestReviews, we’re pleased to help inform your purchase. To learn more about nail art kits and the different ones on the market, keep reading our product guide below. If you have an idea of what you want, check out our recommendations above. Soon, you’ll be treating yourself to a professional-quality manicure.

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If you’re creating nail art on freshly painted nails, note that it may take a full hour for your manicure to dry. You can use a cool fan — not heat from a blow dryer — to speed the drying process.

Key considerations

What is nail art?

Quite a few people already own dozens of nail polish colors and the basic tools for a simple manicure. But if you’re on social media or noticing nail trends, you’ll see more and more nail art popping up. “Nail art” refers to the creative painting, embellishing, and enhancing of nails. It may include features such as crystals, tiny stickers, or glitter. Nail art is typically applied after the manicure has set. If you’re embarking on nail art as a new hobby, it’s critical that you purchase a basic manicure kit first.

Kit essentials

Instructions: A nail art kit may include as many as 200 pieces. Intuitive creative types may do fine without an instruction booklet or nail design ideas, but novices will want to find a kit that includes some degree of guidance. A decent instruction booklet will tell you different ways to use the tools, offer several ideas for designs, and provide general tips and best practices.

Application tools: There are specific tools that every nail art hobbyist needs in their arsenal. If you don’t own the following tools already, be sure to seek out a nail art kit that includes them.

  • Manicure tweezers: These are essential for bedazzling tiny gems and other details onto the nails. Using your fingers simply won’t do.
  • Matte topcoat: This is one item you may already own. A simple one-layer application of topcoat is an easy way to add some sheen and sleekness to any manicure. It’s also useful for sealing art designs on the nail once you’re finished.
  • Nail-dotting tool: Whether you’re painting flowers or birds on your nails, you need a brush that’s tiny enough to get the details right. This is where a nail-dotting tool comes in handy. As the name implies, this is shaped to hold a very small dot of nail polish, essential for painting tiny designs.
  • Thin-tip brush: This is another tool for fine nail art painting. The slender profile of the brush is useful for drawing fine lines and elaborate details. Any nail art kit worth its salt includes a thin-tip brush, but in a pinch a fine-tip artist’s brush will do the trick.
  • Nail-striping tape: This is great for french manicures or any other geometric nail designs. This tape is quite narrow to accommodate the size of a fingernail. In a pinch, paper masking tape (the kind used for paint) will work, but you’d need to cut it into small enough pieces.
  • Nail polish remover pen: Every manicurist makes mistakes. If you own nail polish you probably own a bottle of nail polish remover, but you might not have a nail polish remover pen. The fine tip of the pen allows you to be more discerning as you erase mistakes, rather than trying to make do with a cotton swab or cotton ball.
  • Glitter polish wipes: While pretty, glitter nail polish is a notorious pain to remove. Glitter nail polish wipes are specially textured to scrub off gritty glitter in a matter of seconds.

Lace can be another fun way to spice up your nail design. Simply layer a piece onto the nail and paint over it. When you lift the lace, you’ll leave its delicate outline on the nail.

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Features

Embellishments

Nail stickers: If you want pretty nails with minimal effort, consider looking into nail stickers, also known as nail wraps. These miniature adhesives come in a multitude of designs from colorful and splashy to neutral and classic. Depending on quality and care, nail wraps may last for one to three weeks.

Gems: Gems like rhinestones are a common nail embellishment, adding glamour and pizzazz to any set. For novice nail artists, a booklet with design ideas can prove helpful. You’ll also need manicure tweezers to position those tiny gems just right. Swarovski crystals are another common nail art gem.

Glitter: You know about glitter nail polish, but glitter on its own is versatile in nail art. Finely textured glitter can create a shiny gradient, while bigger glitter is handy for themed designs.

Beads: Nail beads, also known as bullion beads, are an excellent way to add dimension and texture to nail art. Beads can be arranged to create shapes and gradient styles. These tiny beads are applied with the help of a nail-dotting tool and a wet coat of polish.

Colors

Nail art kits are available in all colors and styles. For those who love multihued designs, you’ll have no trouble finding gems, beads, and glitter that add pop to your nails. But even if you favor a more neutral color palette, you may enjoy silver and gold nail decals. If not, tools like striping tape and manicure tweezers are of use for any color preferences.

Storage

All the tiny nail art embellishments, brushes, and other accouterments are easy to lose. You’ll want to have a container that holds every piece, ideally with dividers to keep it all organized. Quite a few nail art kits include a storage box, but if yours doesn’t, it’s easy to find one. Plastic containers usually work best.

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DID YOU KNOW?
While not necessary, a glitter pen is handy in a pinch. If you ruin a french manicure or any other nail-tipped design, simply cover it with glitter.
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Nail art kit prices

While we believe in paying for quality, nail art kits don’t have to be expensive. You can expect to pay anywhere from $8 to $30 for a kit. The price will largely depend on the number of pieces and the tools and embellishments included.

Inexpensive: The $8 to $15 range gives you quite a few options. Nail art kits at this price should include all the basics, such as a few nail-dotting tools, a few sheets of stick-on designs, and plenty of glitter and beads. You’ll likely miss out on a comprehensive storage case, but that can easily be purchased separately.

Mid-range: You’ll have more options in the $15 to $25 range. These nail art kits may include up to a dozen tools, along with all the embellishments you can think of. You may also find more kits with a storage case and design ideas.

Expensive: There’s no need to spend more than $25 on a nail art kit, particularly if you’re new to DIY manicures. Any that cost more than that are likely professional-grade and include professional tools (like a curing lamp, for example). They’re nice to have, but you can certainly do without.

In a pinch, you can use permanent markers to draw nail designs. The ink will wipe off easily with rubbing alcohol. Just be sure to use the pen before you add the topcoat.

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Tips

  • Shape your nails first. You want to ensure your nails are uniformly shaped before applying nail art even if you’re not applying layers of varnish to the nail first. The “squoval,” a cross between a square and an oval, is considered the most flattering nail shape.
  • Reapply topcoat. To ensure your nail art manicure lasts as long as possible, try reapplying a topcoat every three days or so. Also, be sure to take care of chips immediately and wear gloves when doing household chores like washing dishes.
  • Keep the nail art kit brushes clean. In addition to keeping your nail art tools in their own container, you’ll want to wash the brushes regularly. For maximum longevity, soak a cotton pad in nail polish remover (or alcohol for gel polish). Wipe the bristles gently with the cotton pad until the brushes are clean.
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For pleasing color pairings, refer to a color wheel. While gold and silver accents generally go along with any color, it’s helpful to know which colors are complementary, especially if you like to experiment with different color schemes.

FAQ

Q. Are nail art kits suitable for children?

A. Yes, a nail art kit can be a fun gift to keep children occupied. Because of all the tiny pieces, we recommend nail art kits for children age 7 and above. We recommend looking for nail art kits specifically made for kids because they may include more instructions and design ideas suitable for younger ages.

Q. How long will a nail art kit last?

A. A nail art kit that doesn’t include nail polish can last for years. As long as all the components are stored neatly in a cool, dry place and regularly cleaned, you can enjoy your nail art kit for years to come.

Q. How long does nail art last?

A. This depends on the quality of the nail art, how well the nails are maintained, and how active your hands are. Designs applied on gel nails or acrylics last the longest, more than a month if meticulously cared for. Otherwise, one to three weeks is fairly standard. The great part of DIY nail art is that you can perform the touch-ups yourself.

 

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