I was inspired to write this post after seeing a tweet from ChalkboardNails about a wonderful idea that she's judging from moneysupermarket.com, where bloggers are asked for their best money saving ideas. Check it out by clicking HERE.
Polishes & Acrylic Paints
You really don't need a huge catalogue of polishes at your finger tips. Every time I do a design I mix the colours I need from the polishes or acrylic paints I already own, and when I first started out I simply bought some super cheap polishes from the supermarket in green and yellow (the colours I didn't already own) to use specifically for mixing new colours.
However for painting nail art acrylic paints are by far the best and cheapest option around. Buying a few basic colours is inexpensive, and from them you can make any colour you like. The shelf life of acrylic paints is much MUCH longer than that of polishes, and of course they can also be used for other craft projects. They never streak when you put topcoat over them like polishes can often do, can be wiped off if you make a mistake, and one bottle will last you for years and years. I recommend FolkArt, Apple Barrel or Americana, if you can't get them try children's paints as they will be non-toxic and safe to use just as those afore mentioned brands are.
By far the most daunting aspect when you start out is knowing what tools you will need.
The absolute basics in my opinion would be a good detail brush and a dotting tool.
My favourite detail brush comes from a cheap set of 7 nail art brushes I found on ebay. You can also try buying a small brush from an art store, but make sure the bristles are long, not short. Somehow the length of the bristles makes a huge difference, and this is the only tool that you will ever really need for nail art. Stripes, dots and everything inbetween can be created with it. You can see the brush I use in this video below -
Dotting tools are extremely cheap on ebay or amazon, but you can also make them easily. The tip of a toothpick is perfect for fine dots, and just chop the toothpick in half and file the end smooth for making larger dots.
Very big dots can be made with the end of a chopstick, wooden kebab skewer or the end of a paintbrush or pencil.
Probably the cheapest nail art tool is sticky tape! I used it in this starburst tutorial below, and it's a wonderful way for beginners and those who can't paint freehand to enjoy nail art.
Using Up Old Polishes
When you're trying to save money, seeing all the old unwanted polishes in your collection and totting up in your head how much you spent on them can be heartbreaking.
Fear not, there are ways to use them up!
If the consistency is still good I use up varnishes I don't like for water marbling, and I'll paint colours I'm not keen on any more on my nails and then put an amazing glitter polish over the top to transform them in to a brand new (and unique) manicure. Also, iridescent polishes and sheer polishes can completely change the appearance of a colour you no longer like when added over the top.
Sometimes old polishes end up goopy and unusable, so you should throw them out right?
I have a little section in my drawer for just those offenders....many can be saved by using nail polish thinner (never use nail polish remover, it destroys the polish!), but for those that can't be saved or that I don't like there is another use. They're great for removing nail polish!
If your nails split, peel or break easily it has no doubt occured to you that your nail polish could be to blame. Well of course it can be, but have you thought about the nail polish remover you're using too?
Nail polish remover (especially those with acetone) contain nasty chemicals. They have to to remove all that nail polish so well. This can of course sink in too your skin which isn't very healthy, and also sink in to your nails.
My nails are very weak and pathetic, so to try and keep them healthier this is what I do to remove old manicures - I use a thick layer of those thick goopy polishes over my nails and wait 5 minutes. It will sink through your polish melting it to the point where you can wipe off a couple of layers and therefore halve the time you'll need to spend using regular remover. This tip is especially good if you're trying to remove a glitter polish.
There Are Some Things Worth Spending Money On...
Finding the perfect base coat, top coat or nail strengthener for your specific nail type will take time and cost money. There's no way around that especially if you have issues with your nails.
My favourite top coat could perform terribly on your nails and visa versa. Everyone is different and there's not a polish out there that will work for everyone.
I've bought dozens of products trying to find what's right for me and I'm close to getting there, but yes I have spent a lot of money in the process.
My advice would be to read recommendations, reviews, and ask for advice from either the online nail polish/nail art community or your friends and family. Don't forget the best prices are often found online, I live in the UK and buy most of my nail products from American sellers on the UK Ebay site as I save the most money that way. Sure I have to wait 2 weeks to receive the products but the saving is worth is for me.
I hope some of these tips have helped you, and of course if you have any questions or indeed any tips or your own, share them with us in the comments!