Unlikely nail art hero: Sellotape

My love for repurposing everyday objects as nail art tools continues unabated, and there's a new ordinary bit of kit vying to pull my affection from ballpoint pens and eyeshadow applicators. It's the humble roll of Sellotape, and it makes a very useful addition indeed to any nail art enthusiast's collection. With just a weeny bit of practise, it can be used to make easy work of creating impressive-looking neat straight edges, sharp lines, and geometric patterns for fancy tips or all-over whole nail awesomeness.

Get the look

  1. As with the half-moon mani that used hole reinforcers as stencils, ensure that the base colour(s) with which you've painted your nails is completely dry before applying tape. Leave it for half an hour minimum, and an hour if possible. Reduce the adhesive power of the tape by sticking it to the palm of your hand or your fingertips a couple of times to prevent it lifting your base colour.
  2. Cut tape into whatever straight-edged shapes your little heart desires and press firmly onto nails, sticky side down. (I've used green painter's tape on the prep nails so you can see where it was positioned, but bog standard Sellotape to achieve the finished look.) Leave a bit of extra tape at the edges of your nails to act as a tab - you want to have something to grip when the time comes to take it off!
  3. Apply your next coat of polish.
  4. Wait just a moment to remove the tape – you want the polish to have set slightly so that you get a nice crisp line between your colours, but not so much that it gets stringy when you peel it off. Through a bit of trial and error, I decided that one minute max was usually sufficient to achieve this. Finish with a topcoat that won't smudge the paint job (I used Seche Vite.)

Contrasting colours will have the most impact  –  layer black over brights, neons or pastels for an old skool scratch drawing effect – but try playing with textures, too. Mixing matte and glossy finishes in a single colour is always a winner in my book...


... while glitter or holographic polishes really pop as base colours.

You could also use this technique to create zebra/tiger stripes (with triangular pieces of tape applied at alternate sides of the nail), triangular tips or half moons (taping off the sections where you want the base colour to show through), lightning bolts, zig-zag French tips, chevrons – pretty much anything that only requires straight edges.

Have you tried the Sellotape mani yet?

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