Just when you thought cool nail art was best left to the pros, Marie Claire asked the world's top experts to create exclusive looks you can do at home (really).
The Look: This fierce, tribal-inspired design is the handiwork of New York City–based artist Tong, who showcases her work behind the scenes at photo shoots and fashion shows on her Tumblr (jessicatongnailart.tumblr.com).
How-To: Apply two coats of (1). Let dry. Paint a V-shape on the tip of each nail using (2), and allow to dry. Lay down an inverted V-stripe of (3) on each nail where the two base shades intersect, and allow to dry. Finish by using (4) to outline the white stripe and draw a zigzag through it, then fill in half the zigzag with tiny stripes.
1. CIRQUE Nail Lacquer in Erda, $13. 2. CIRQUE Nail Lacquer in Bejeweled, $15. 3. BUTTER LONDON Nail Lacquer in Cotton Buds, $15. 4. SALLY HANSEN Nail Art Pen in Black, $7.
The Look: The elaborate artwork this Los Angeles–based nail artist posts on her Tumblr (britneytokyo.tumblr.com) is often hard to replicate, but this matte, denim- inspired design is surprisingly easy for a nail-art novice.
How-To: Apply two coats of (1). Dip a sponge-tip eyeshadow applicator in (2), then lightly dab the color onto your nail a few times to create the stonewashed pattern. Repeat the technique using a clean applicator dipped in (3). Finish with a coat of (4).
1. ORLY Nail Lacquer in Snowcone, $9. 2. DIOR Vernis Nail Lacquer in Electric Blue, $24. 3. LAKUR BY LONDONTOWN Polish in Chelsea Porcelain, $22. 4. OPI Matte Top Coat, $9.
The Look: Hipp, known as the "green celebrity manicurist" for her all-natural red-carpet manicures (Michelle Williams and Emma Stone are fans), created this curvy, color-blocked look using predesigned nail wraps and just one shade of polish.
How-To: Apply the nail wraps (1) according to instructions, but do not top with clear polish as the package directs. Instead, apply a half-moon of (2), starting on one side of the nail and sweeping sideways around the white moons that are part of the wrap's design. Create another sideways stroke three-quarters of the way to the tip, keeping the curve parallel to the curved edge of your nail tip. Fill in the area between the two lines with (2).
1. NCLA x NAILING HOLLYWOOD Nail Wrap Kit in Jenna's Nude Moon, $16. 2. RESCUE BEAUTY LOUNGE Nail Polish in Smile, $20.
The Look: A regular presence backstage at fashion shows (Prabal Gurung, Marchesa), Tracylee has plenty of inspiration for her designs. This marbleized mani replicates a pattern on one of her favorite fall looks, a sexy dress from Balenciaga.
How-To: Apply a coat of (1). Next, use a crumpled plastic baggie as a sponge to apply the black flecks: Place a few drops of (2) on a piece of paper, crumple the baggie and dip it into the polish, dab off excess, then gently press the baggie once onto the nail to create a marbled effect. Finish with a coat of (3).
1. SALLY HANSEN Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Color in White On, $3. 2. OPI Nail Lacquer in Black Onyx, $9. 3. SALLY HANSEN Complete Salon Manicure in Sheer Bliss, $7.
The Look: This galaxy design is "a lot easier to do than it appears," says Sterling, who has tended to the tips of Rihanna, Alicia Keys, and Kirsten Dunst and worked with fashion photographers such as Raymond Meier and Greg Kadel.
How-To: Apply a coat of (1) and let dry. To create the "nebula," as Sterling calls the swirling colors in the center, tear a tiny chunk from a white latex makeup sponge, pick it up with a pair of tweezers, then use it to lightly dab (2) in a diagonal streak across each nail. Using the same technique, apply (3) directly over wet nails (2). Next, dip a tooth- pick in (4) and use it to place dots of polish ("stars") around the nebula. Let the design dry, then finish with a glittery coat of (5).
1. CHANEL Le Vernis Nail Colour in Black Satin, $27. 2. COLOR CLUB Professional Nail Lacquer in Almost Famous, $8. 3. ESSIE Nail Polish in Butler Please, $8. 4. MAYBELLINE NEW YORK Color Show Nail Lacquer in Porcelain Party, $4. 5. DEBORAH LIPPMANN Nail Lacquer in Happy Birthday, $19.
The Look: This bordeaux-tipped manicure features two sophisticated hues that are worthy of the high-fashion advertising images (Prada, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton) Choi is known for. "The nail art was inspired by a one-shouldered gown, which is elegant and sexy at the same time," says Choi.
How-To: Paint nails with two coats of (1). Next, apply (2) in a swoop from the bottom left corner of each nail to the top right corner. Fill in the nail above the diagonal swoop with (2).
1. JIN SOON Nail Polish in Nostalgia, $18. 2. JIN SOON Nail Polish in Audacity, $18.
The Look: Tortoiseshells and cheetahs were the inspiration for this wild mani created by Washick, who's best known for her Tumblr (uneedamanicure.tumblr.com). "I just love the imperfection of natural patterns," she says. "Plus, they're easier to paint than straight lines—especially when you're using your nondominant hand."
How-To: Apply two coats of (1). Next, paint a few "messy" diamond shapes on each nail using (2). Dip a striping brush, like the Star Nail CinaPro Striping Brush With Cleaner, $8, in (3), then use it to create small spots in the center of each diamond. "The Floss Gloss lacquers I used are really pigmented, so you can layer them on other colors—even when they're wet—and they still stay true to the shades in the bottles," says Washick.
1. FLOSS GLOSS Pro Nail Lacquer in Bikini Coral, $8. 2. ILLAMASQUA Nail Varnish in Cameo, $17. 3. FLOSS GLOSS Pro Nail Lacquer in Wavepool, $8.
The Look: When Tokyo's cooler-than-cool Mars The Salon opened a satellite location in West Hollywood, California, neighborhood scenesters (Rumer Willis, Busy Philipps) lined up for gel manicures and nail art from owner Fujikawa. These studded tips are a perfect example of her bold, graphic style.
How-To: Brush on two coats of (1) and let dry. Paint top half of each nail with two coats of (2). Let dry. Next, apply studs, such as Born Pretty's 4 mm Gold Square Studs, $6 per bag. To affix, prep nail with a gel-like clear top coat, such as Julep Freedom Polymer Top Coat, $18. while the top coat is still wet, use a pair of tweezers to pick up a stud and place it on the top right corner of the nail. (The top coat acts as glue so it will stick.) Repeat with three more studs, placing them so they form a square.
1. ZOYA Nail Polish in Purity, $8. 2. ZOYA Nail Polish in Kalista, $8.
The Look: A regular behind the scenes on advertising shoots for Tom Ford and Céline, Robson can certainly do simple and elegant, but her cool-girl clients (Alexa Chung, Kylie Minogue) are always game for something fly. This confection was inspired by a street-style picture Robson saw of a woman in pink trousers and a green bomber jacket. "The color combination caught my imagination—I'm loving sugary pink nails at the moment."
How To: Brush on two coats of (1) and let dry. Next, use a small nail-art brush dipped in (2) to paint curved slivers on both corners of each nail, and allow to dry. with a striping brush dipped in (3), draw thin lines along the edge of the curved slivers. FYI: ASP Nail Art 4 Pack Brush Set, $15, contains small nail-art brushes and a striping brush.
1. ORLY Nail Lacquer in Basket Case, $9. 2. COVERGIRL Outlast Stay Brilliant Nail Gloss in Pink-finity (140), $5. 3. REVLON Nail Art Neon Nail Enamel in Fluorescent, $9.