If you’ve been having blah days, maybe what you need is a little extra playful fun to brighten up your attitude and people’s reactions to you. Nail art is a very fun way of getting that little extra zing in your day! You can do it at home or have a professional do it, whichever you prefer, and if you do it yourself, it allows you to unleash your creativity.

You can either paint the designs on your own nails or opt for acrylic nails. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. If your nails aren’t in good shape, acrylic nails are a great way of getting a quick fix, but in the long run, it isn’t very healthy for your real nails underneath. It’s also less painful and inconvenient if you break an acrylic nail, but removing them is also a pain (and sometimes painful). Clearly, in the long run, it’s best to take good care of your real nails, but they might not be able to stand the stress of having art on them. Acrylic nails are easier to paint, as you can paint them before putting them on and you have an even, smooth surface to paint where nails suffer from minor imperfections due to stress, nutritional deficiencies, and so on.

To actually paint your nails, you can follow this simple step-by-step procedure.

1. Gather supplies

Before you begin to paint, you’ll want to get your supplies together. Line up your bottles of nail polish according to their color, set out trays with any accessories or tools, and ensure you have cotton puffs to clean up mistakes and a tissue to put under your nails in case any polish drips. Tools to line up include Q-tips, toothpicks, nail art pens and anything else you intend to use.

2. Decide on design

There are many different nail designs you can opt for, but your base coat color will depend on what you’re painting, for instance. Before you actually begin to paint, plan out what you intend to paint unless you have plenty of experience with freehand nail art. Make sure your main colors that will be used in the nail design are easily accessible so you don’t waste time fumbling for them or smear your polish in the process.

3. Remove old polish

If you have old nail polish on your nails, you’ll need to remove it before you can do anything. A good nail polish remover will help cleanse your nails. Even if you don’t have polish, it’s good to use nail polish remover to get rid of the grease, oils, and dirt that can accumulate on your nails and make for a shorter-lasting design.

4. Paint your nails

First, you’ll need to paint your base coat to keep your nails strong and protect them from your layers of polish. Then, paint your background color and, after it has dried, have fun with your design! After you’re done, you can add rhinestones, glitter or other accessories, then paint a top coat to protect the nail design.

Nail design ideas to get you started include a traditional French manicure, flowers, smilies, flags, rainbows, polka dots, stripes, ladybugs, and anything else that can easily be drawn on a small canvas.

Nail art is easy, fun, and sure to brighten up your days!