Get Yo' Nails DidMolly McAleer

Nails are very important to me. Sure, I won’t judge you (too harshly) if you bite yours or keep them plain, but I will definitely stop and notice if you’ve taken the time to do something special to them.

In my opinion, a classy lady always takes time out to care for her hands, especially because they age quickly. They are so important because you can seal a deal by shaking them, and they’re what your special someone or child reaches for first. I learned this from my mom, who cleaned houses and ran a catering business when I was a kid. Her hands were constantly submerged in water or wiping away dust and she always made sure to grease up her hands with Bag Balm and rest them in cloth gloves at night.

My work is a lot less manual, but I do spend most of my day using my hands. I love looking down at the keyboard and seeing a fun splash of color on the tips of my fingers, or even better, a pretty and/or wild design. Well-done nails are also a great conversation piece, so the chronically shy or socially awkward HelloGiggles girl should be paying extra attention right now (Hey, girl. I relate to you.)

“Get Yo’ Nails Did” is going to show you a different way to adorn your fingers with something that will make you smile (almost) every week. For this inaugural post, I thought I’d show you my signature cheetah print design. Animal prints can be pretty risky clothing-wise, but on your fingers? Always a hit.

I start off by selecting my colors. You can choose a monochromatic look or do something like I did, which was go for three colors that compliment each other while also being different enough to stand out. The color scheme might look familiar—it’s basically the same one we used when designing the site.

The red is Silken Cord by Essie, the blue is Shelter Island, also by Essie and the black? It’s an off-brand nail art bottle that I bought my roommate for her birthday over a year ago at a Korean drugstore. You can find this stuff anywhere these days, but I always see them on the counter of liquor stores, pharmacies and bargain basement-type places.

Start by painting all of your nails with your base color. There are no rules about which color is your base color. That, by the way, is a pretty common theme that’s going to come up here. There are no rules about what looks good. Just go with whatever you think is going to make you feel fly.

Wait for the first color to dry and then make some random splotches on your fingers with the second color. Some of the splotches can be oblong; some can be perfectly round, just make sure you mix it up. A leopard’s spots are like freckles on a human in that way. You can’t mess up because there are no set guidelines for how they are supposed to look.

I like to start doing the detail on my left hand because I am right handed. Practicing on your weaker hand is always a good way to start.

When you’re filling in the detail, remember that the darker parts on a leopard’s spots are not fully connected. Break the lines up and leave some spaces empty. Once you’re done filling in the lines, go back in and add some small dots in your detail color. That really ties the whole nail together.

Your completed hand should look something like the photo above. Remember that I’ve been doing this for ages and when I first started, my hands looked nothing like this. You should also remember that I’m not one for total perfection when it comes to aesthetics, so with a little bit of practice, you’ll undoubtedly have much cuter nails than mine.

You’re going to want to hit your nails up with a good top coat to quite literally seal the deal. The importance of a top coat is not to be underestimated. My nails often last so long that people ask me if I have gels. Ha! You’ll see me get a boob job first (and I will never get a boob job!)

I have all kinds of fancy top coats that were gifted to me, but the one I like best is one that my roommate has lying around. It’s Vivid Color Intensifying Top Coat and the name’s not a lie. I always feel like my nails look brighter and bolder after using it. Best part? A little bit of Internet research told me that you can find it for only $2.99. Get your Google on, ladies.

That’s it! A few easy steps and you’ve got the best nails on the block. Before I chuck some flawless deuces up at you, let me leave you with a few more tips (pun intended, duh.)

  • Waiting for your nails to dry in between coats can be boring, so I often blast my hands with a splash of super cold water from the tap. I don’t know exactly why this works, but it seems to harden the polish more quickly and give you a dry surface to start detailing on.
  • Doing your own nails at home is inexpensive, but I do recommend splurging on a manicure once every month or so. It’s difficult to cut your cuticles at home (I personally refuse to do it out of fear of infection) and having a licensed expert do it for you every once in a while gives you a better canvass to work on when you’re doing them at home.
  • Pay no mind to trends in nail shapes or lengths. Sometimes I think it’s fun to go for a long, rounded shape like a 1980s secretary, and other times I think it’s best just to keep ‘em short, square and manageable. The shape of your nails is all about preference, and don’t let a magazine or manicurist tell you differently.
  • Give your nails a break. I can pull off polish on my nails almost all of the time without worrying about breakage, but I still try and go one week every few months with a totally bare (but still clean and filed!) nail. It’s important to give your nails a chance to breathe and have full exposure to sun so they won’t yellow or get flakey. A doctor or manicurist has never told me this, so I can’t be certain that it’s 100% true, but I can’t think of a reason that it wouldn’t be.

That’s all for this week! Make sure to send me your leopard print nails or ideas for designs you’d like to see me try out at molls@hellogiggles.com!

Molly McAleer (A.K.A. Molls) is a writer and a co-founder of HelloGiggles. She lives in Los Angeles with her chihuahua, Wagandstuff. You can see more of her work here.


  • http://www.facebook.com/tayloraileenharrison Taylor Aileen Harrison

    As a plain nail girl, this is what i needed to hear/see to get on the painted bandwagon. Thank you for that. If something major happens because of my new nails I will give you the credit. Looking forward to more!

    • molls

      Glad you feel inspired, girl! Take it slow! I’ll show a simple design next week!

  • http://www.facebook.com/MaryJoe28 Mary Joe

    I once saw Zooey tweet a pic of one of her thumbnails, it was painted orange and had a small white heart in the middle. So when I sprained my wrist when I was about to get mugged and got a splint,I decided to do a little artwork on my nails.I love rad colours,so I painted one nail shocking pink and the other orange,and I painted a white heart on my left hand index and right hind ring finger…I’ll look for the pics,see if I still have them…So glad to know others love self expression on nails as much as I do! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1080830127 Beth Curry

    I bought a Konad nail plate with a similar leopard print pattern and didn’t think to paint them like you’ve done! My plate also has a tiger/zebra print design on it too, which I’ve yet to put to use but I’m interested to see how it looks.
    Although for me, a little while before I paint the base coat on, I use some hardener/top coat because sometimes when I don’t, I find that the nail polish will stain my nails. I don’t know if you’re not supposed to do that, but it’s never harmed my nails, just made the nail polish easier to remove.

    • molls

      A base coat is great! I rarely use them, but I know tons of people (including professional manicurists) often do. I’ll be sure to mention that in the upcoming weeks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002516672472 Mary Sizelove

    So this is my favorite thing on this site so far. It is totally fun! Woowoo, support wild nails. Thanks Molls. You’ve inspired me to be a little more creative in my nail art.

    • molls

      Thank you so much!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002516672472 Mary Sizelove

    Also, if you dip your fingers in a bowl of ice water it dries them super fast! ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/tiffanybd Tiffany Blake

    trying it! love that its freehand, I don’t have the time/money to buying utensils to make my nails look crazy.

    • molls

      Me neither, girl! Nice and easy is the way to do it!

  • molls

    Thanks for the support, ladies! So glad that you’re enjoying it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lkgardner Laura Gardner

    Will the nails topic be a regular feature on here? Your nails are amazing Molls, you should have a page dedicated to those guys!

    • molls

      This will absolutely be a regular feature!

  • http://www.facebook.com/madonnaki4ever Niki Kaxeri

    I started doing nail art design last fall and since then I just can’t seem to paint my nails with only one color. It is true, practice makes perfect! I couldn’t even do my right hand before, but now it is all good. ; )

    Nice try and keep them coming!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pinkgrapefruits87 Lauren Nespoli

    Wow, you make it sound pretty easy! I’m not too good at nail designs so I usually stick to just a plain color or sometimes a French manicure.
    Well-done nails are also a great conversation piece, so the chronically shy or socially awkward HelloGiggles girl should be paying extra attention right now
    haha, I am that girl! I always have polish on my nails, even though it’s not usually anything special. I’m looking forward to more of your nail ideas. I’ll have to try some. I need to buy more “fun” colors though! And I’ve been looking for a good top coat because my nails chip after like two days so I’m gonna look for the Vivid one! Thanks for the “tips!” ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1822134640 Amber Bingham

    I have spent my whole life biting my nails…I have a nervous personality haha. My mother used to tell me there was no point in keeping my nails nice or painting them because doing so would just draw attention to my ugly sausage fingers. That said I really liked what you had to say about what your mother taught you about caring for your hands and have decided to completely rethink my stand on painted nails :). I think I will start with my toenails though…then if I get too worried I will just put on socks lol.

    • molls

      Not to say your mom’s wrong, but I’d think of it more like, “there’s no point in biting your nails if you just spent 45 minutes painting them.”

      Maybe spending some time on your nails will make you want to keep them looking pretty! Break those bad habits and look good in the process!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rockinItalmajor Robyn Pennington

    As a girl all about the wild nail colors (or my favorite, which is discoball glitter), thank you! It’s a fabulous idea to try something new every once in a while and I’d gotten stuck. This totally got me unstuck. Heart :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/rosebrowne Rose Browne

    Just tried this and failed miserably! But the important part is that I tried, my next attempt can only get better. Thanks for the inspiration! I’m a waitress and take good care of my hands, and love having them painted, but nail art is a new realm for me. I am determined to master it. I’m looking forward to more nail posts!

    • molls

      Totally, Rose! As I said, you’re going to need to practice the heck outta this. Some people can get it right the first time, but I know I definitely didn’t. Stick with it if you wanna and if animal prints are a bit much for you to start with, maybe you can follow one of the more simple designs I’m putting up in the coming weeks. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1241970353 Lucy Bergin

    I couldn’t agree with every line in this post more. I used to pick my nails terribly until a few months ago when I just bought a cute kit and gave myself a French manicure every two weeks. My nails are healthy, strong, and beautiful these days. My current fav design is tie dye, have you ever tried that? I’m PUMPED to see what you do next :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/loloashley Lauren Gelatt

    just tried it out. absolutely love it. love fierce looking nails :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/beezybeez Bailey Jensen

    Do you know of any good eco-friendly nail polishes? I haven’t painted my nails in almost ten years, because I was concerned about the environmental effects of polish and polish remover, but lately I’ve had the urge.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507525931 Maeve McVeigh

      sparitual. it’s vegan. it is organic. it is free of harsh chemicals and synthetic dyes. and even the packaging is eco-friendly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Limonadeeswarallessogrenzenlos Natalie Strobach

    Great post, but I was wondering about the aversion to gel nails? They seem to be popping up everywhere right now and if there is a downside, I’d love to hear it! Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ReRami Rachel Ramirez

    I tried it with turquoise and red. It didn’t quite work out– the leopard spots kinda look like flobby vaginas. I’m still feelin’ it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/erikascott Erika Scott

    I tried this out and though I need some practice, all my friends love it :) thanks, molls!

  • http://www.facebook.com/karenashhh Karen Ashh

    trying this out today! thanks molls!

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