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.


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  3. Can someone break it down into 3-5 easy steps for me?

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  7. Wow! Thank you! I constantly wanted to write on my site something like that. Can I include a part of your post to my website?

  8. absolutely genius. I always do my nails. I usually stick to the polcka dots alone or stripes but this is fabulous. Thanks Molls, I’m looking foward to more “get yo nails did” :)

  9. just tried this on a whim cuz i was bored and its kinda sloppy but it still looks kinda fab. I love this feature!!

  10. Love it! I saw this and had to try it right away! I have super short nails, but so what, they look awesome! ^_^ http://www.flickr.com/photos/rebmabebz/5896701661/in/photostream

  11. I made thie with GoLd-Bronze with BLack Stripes.Everbody Liked it ;)
    Looks cooL ;)

  12. [...] I told you in the first “Get Yo’ Nails Did”, it’s important to include real manicures in your nail [...]

  13. I did mine! Finally..could of made the design a bit bigger.

  14. I have just tried this on my nails, and I have to say, its pretty cool. even when i struggle to paint with my non-preferred hand. i went all pastel-ly and kind of katy perry-esque. LOVE IT. Next challenge!

  15. Hey girl, I relate to you.

  16. This tutorial is inspiring me to do all kinds of good with my life ie stop biting my nails! No, seriously. I have to stop biting my nails. Also! I noticed your nails match HelloGiggles’ color scheme, now did you plan that or… :)

  17. I like to paint my nails bright yellow and use a black nail pen to draw smiley faces on every finger. Instant day-brightener :)

  18. I did mine this weekend, too! http://www.hungrycook.com/2011/05/31/nail-art/