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7 Easy Tweaks That Bust Any Manicure Rut

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By Lexi Novak; Photos by Jeremy Allen, Allure

When you're sick of your long layers, you can trim them into a choppy lob. When you wear the same black winged eyeliner every day, you can swap it for a swipe of electric cobalt. And when you want to reinvent your nail game? That's easy: You pick one of these seven brilliant (but totally DIYable) ways to upgrade your manicure.

2016-03-04-1457121548-5557133-metallicnailsapprovedinfinite.gif 1. Give your nude some oomph

If Ballet Slippers is where your nail-polish color spectrum begins and ends, there's a simple and understated way to pump it up. Manicurist Elle paints on a coat of sheer metallic polish first, then a coat of sheer nude or pink. "It creates depth, like you're looking through a glass bottle," she says.

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Gilty Party, $6.99,

Essie nail polish in Birthday Suit, $8.50,


2. Dry out

Dry brushing creates a soft, feathery look on nails, takes seconds to do, and is almost impossible to mess up. First, do a full coat of your favorite base color. Once it's dry, pick a contrasting shade and use a paper towel to wipe as much polish off the brush as possible. Lightly sweep the dry brush diagonally across each nail. This is all about quick little strokes--two or three per nail. Another option: Skip a base color and dry-brush bare nails for a negative-space effect, says manicurist Deborah Lippmann. White and gold look particularly cool.

Smith & Cult nail polish in Kings & Thieves, $18,

Formula X nail polish in Dainty, $10.50,

3. Skip the gloss

An easy way to tweak your manicure is to play up the texture of your nails and skip topcoat so the texture of the polish shows through. (Fair warning: The manicure probably won't last as long.) You get an especially three-dimensional effect if you've painted on dots, stripes, feathers, or any other kind of design.


4. Marbleize

Think of white nails as mini dry-erase boards to doodle on. Elle's Sharpie technique turns them into marble. Start with dry white or cream polish and draw veins (think of a leaf) on top with a fine black permanent marker. Wet a small, stiff eye-shadow brush with rubbing alcohol, and then quickly (but lightly) dab it over each line. You want to stop as soon as the design starts bleeding. (Otherwise, you'll brush the marker right off.) This is one look that 100 percent needs a topcoat, since the alcohol will also dull your nail polish--and the marbling can smudge even after it's dry.

Nails Inc. nail polish in Floral Street, $15,

Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro, $45 for the set,

5. Brighten the base

When your collection of polish shades feels meh, starting with a different hue could be all you need to perk them up. First, paint on a layer of white nail polish, then add your regular color on top (you may still need two coats). Any color will look more vivid, but a shade that's already bright will become full-on neon.


6. Spot-treat

Some people are just buff manicure people. (We're guessing they probably have a consistent coffee order and a very specific personal style, too.) And that's all great. But for the buff-manicure devotee who wants to get a little crazy, manicurist Erica Marton has a suggestion: "Do one black dot centered just above the cuticle, and put a clear coat on top. My clients are obsessed," she says. "It's chic, and it's still something fresh."

Butter London nail-art tool kit, $30,


7. Follow the landing strip

Not that landing strip...we mean a single, fine line down the center of each nail. "I like the reflective look of foil tape," says manicurist Gina Viviano. "On dark nails, you don't even notice until it catches the light. It's a supercool effect." Measure and cut a piece of nail-striping tape to the length of each nail (about a half inch) and lay it sticky-side down straight down the middle. We find it adheres better with lash glue, and you should always seal it with a topcoat.

Nail Bliss One Step Gel in Black Ice, $10.99,

It's So Easy Stripe 'Em Decorative Striping Tape, $9.44,

Thrive Causemetics Infinity Lash Adhesive, $16,

Zoya Naked Manicure Glossy Seal topcoat, $12,

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