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How do I Use Nail Art Stencils?

Christine Hudson
Christine Hudson

To use nail art stencils, nails must be properly prepared and polished beforehand and cared for after application. Once the base color has set, you can begin to use the stencils by laying the stencil on the nail in the position and angle you’d like and holding it flat against the nail. You can then use other colors to paint in the open area of the stencil. If the stencil is one which sticks to the nail, it is best to allow the nail polish to sit for a few minutes before attempting to remove it. Using nail art stencils is relatively easy and simply requires some time and the right supplies.

You first may need to remove all of the old polish with nail polish remover and then use an orange stick to push back the cuticles before using nail art stencils. Some individuals prefer to also buff the surface of the nail lightly to get a nice, flat surface. A base coat of nail polish should be used prior to applying your base color polish, and then a top coat should be used once you’ve completed the design and it’s dried. The top coat of polish prevents the design from chipping or rubbing away, and proper nail care such as filing should be practiced to keep nails healthy.

Artificial fingernails with nail art.
Artificial fingernails with nail art.

Allow at least thirty minutes for the base color to dry once you’ve applied it. If using a clear base coat, it should be allowed to set for about 10 to 15 minutes before applying the base color. If the base color has not had enough time to dry, it may smudge or even lift when you begin to use the nail art stencils.

These nail art stencils can be made of many types of materials and come in thousands of shapes—some of these are one-time use and others allow multiple uses. Stencil designs can be used in nearly endless combinations, and you can even layer the designs on top of each other to get new looks. Simply allow each layer to dry before adding another and these designs should last nine to 12 days. It is possible to even make your own designs using wax paper or tape, allowing for even more creativity.

Discussion Comments


If you are extremely patient and sure-handed and somewhat artistic, doing your own nail art stencils may be a less-expensive alternative for you than getting them done at a salon.

For the rest of us, I recommend going to the salon. There, you know they are using the best products and have the expertise to keep your nails healthy and produce the most beautiful results.

Any process that could take nine days to 12 days is a commitment that is most likely worth having done right by professionals.

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    • Artificial fingernails with nail art.
      Artificial fingernails with nail art.
    • Nail art stencils can be helpful when using more than one color to paint nails.
      By: sakura
      Nail art stencils can be helpful when using more than one color to paint nails.