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From candy cane French tips to tortoiseshell Christmas puddings, nail your festive mani with these expert-approved hacks, tips and techniques


From the food to the gifts and the parties, there’s a lot to adore about Christmas. But what gets us really excited is the excuse it gives us to do something fun with our nails. How? Christmas nail art, of course!


From the unexpected tools you might already have to hand, to foolproof tips and techniques, we spoke to some of our favourite nail technicians about how to recreate fabulously festive nail looks in the comfort of your own home. Need a helping hand? Not a problem. Take this to your local nail salon as inspiration instead!


Five of the best Christmas nail art designs to try


When it comes to Christmas nail art, where do you begin? These designs – ranked from relatively easy to quite tricky – should give you all the inspo you need!

Abstract baubles


Difficulty level: Easy


We love the simplicity of this design by Charlotte Knight, a nail technician based in Leicester. She explains how to do them at home:

1. “To create this look at home, you can use a nude base or, like me, you can add a sparkly sheer colour – I applied two coats to create maximum sparkle!”


Try: My Mood Nail Polish Duo Legit Sparkles (£8)


• Size: 2 x 10ml

• Vegan


As luck would have it, this set contains a nude and a sparkly nail polish, to provide the ultimate duo of shades to see you through the party season.

2. “Using your favourite glitter polishes, grab a bobby pin or a dotting tool and dab on your dots.”


Try: Essie 511 Congrats Silver Pink Glitter Nail Polish (£7.99)


• Size: 13.5ml


While you’ll ideally have several different glitter nail polishes to hand for this design, this one in particular is an excellent start.


Try: Boots Blending Grips (£1)


• Size: 30 pack


You don’t necessarily have to use fancy professional tools to create great nail art, a hair grip works just fine for creating dots!

3. “Finish with a top coat to create this simple yet festive look!”

Candy cane tips


Difficulty level: A little tricky


We adore a micro French manicure at the best times, but this one’s our favourite during Christmas. “When it comes to nail art, I love minimalism and using the shape of the nail to create the design,” says nail technician Jaz, this look’s creator.


Here are our top tips for how to attempt it yourself at home:


1. Make sure your nails are filed super evenly.

2. Apply your chosen neutral base coat for the perfect foundation.


Try: DIOR Base Coat Abricot Protective Nail Care Base (£22)


• Size: 10ml


Base coats don’t get more luxurious than this, which nourishes and smooths nails to ready them for your artwork.

3. Sweep across the tip (once left to centre and once right to centre) and down one side of the nail using a white nail polish with a skinny brush. A fine-tipped eyeliner brush works wonders here (check out nail technician Helen Rafferty’s recommendation later on).


Try: OPI Nail Polish in Alpine Snow White (£13.90)


• Size: 15ml


A white nail polish named ‘alpine snow white’ has to be the perfect white nail polish for any Christmas nail art look! What’s more, it’s also a great thing to have to hand for doing a conventional French manicure too.

4. Use your skinny brush to paint diagonal stripes with a red nail polish to resemble candy canes and there you have it, a sweet and stylish way to make your usual French mani subtly festive!


Try: Boots Polished Nail Polish 010 (£2.99)


• Size: 8ml


Add pops of colour with this classic red nail polish. Plus, this one’s a total bargain!

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer


Difficulty level: A little tricky


What would Christmas be without at least one Rudolph reference? And your fingernail is the perfect place for it! Leeds-based nail technician Emma Nicholson talks us through how to recreate this nail art at home:


1. Apply your chosen base colour.

2. “Once the base colour is dry, dip your dotting tool (or hair grip) into your sparkly red and press on to the nail to create Rudolf’s nose. You can drag the dotting tool in a circular motion to make the nose bigger.”


Try: Essie Celebrating Moments 635 Let's Party Red Shimmer Nail Polish (£7.99)


• Size: 13.5ml


We love the idea of using this colour as a base for the rest of your nails too, making them match that infamous red nose!

3. “Repeat this step for Rudolf’s eyes” (with black nail polish, of course, so that he doesn’t look evil).


Try: Boots Polished Nail Polish 018 (£2.99)


• Size: 8ml


Whether you need to recreate Rudolph’s eyes or simply want to give yourself the chicest manicure on earth, black nail polish is an essential.

4. “​​Use a thin liner brush to draw on the antlers.” And there you have it, a festive design that’s certain to make you smile every time you look at your finger.

Festive metallic stripes


Difficulty level: Tricky


For Helen Rafferty, a nail technician based in Sheffield, Christmas nail art doesn’t have to scream Christmas – it can whisper it elegantly instead! And this stylish, textured design is certain to suit everything from festive drinks to Christmas jumper day. Here are Helen’s top tips:

1. “Start off with a nude or clear base - I used a pinky nude shade here.”


Try: OPI Nail Polish in Passion Pink (£12.50)


• Size: 15ml


This sheer coverage pale pink is a year-round staple. Use it alone for simplicity’s sake or as a base coat for daring nail art.

2. “With a brush, paint two long, thin S shapes with your chosen glitter colours. Try to keep them separate from each other.”


Try: NYX Professional Makeup Pro Brush 11 - Angled Eyeliner (£9)


• Synthetic fibres


If you don’t have a nail brush to hand, this is “a great alternative brush,” says Helen. Just remember to remove the nail polish from it after each use to get rid of product build up so that you can carry on using it long after Christmas is over.


Try: Nails.INC Spice as Nice, Nail Polish Quad (£22)


• Size: 56ml

• Vegan


There’s a whole host of nail art looks that can be created with these four polishes – we’re feeling festive just looking at them.

3. “In the space between the glitter lines, use a thin brush to draw S-shaped lines in the gaps with a white colour.”


Try: Sally Hansen Good Kind Pure Nail Polish in White Tea (£8.99)


• Size: 10ml

• Size: Vegan


A plant-based nail polish that offers a glorious finish? Look no further! 


4. “Add a small cross shape using a white polish with a hair grip over some of the glitter lines. In the middle of the cross, add a dot to create a star effect.”


5. “Finish off with a layer of top coat and you’re done!”

Christmas puddings


Difficulty level: Tricky


Love them or loathe them, Christmas puddings certainly make very cute nail art additions to any festive manicure. And no one knows that better than Nottingham-based nail technician Alice Lily! Here, she tells us how to do them at home:

1. “Use a base colour of a warm orange or yellow shade.”


Try: Barry M Green Origin Nail Paint in Butterscotch (£3.99)


• Size: 10ml

• Vegan

• Cruelty-free


Behold the perfect base for a tortoiseshell manicure! Made with natural ingredients such as potato, corn and wheat, this nail polish gives a high gloss finish.

2. “Then mix a medium shade of brown with either nail polish thinner or acetone to water it down, and add a few spots or blobs over that base colour.”


Try: My Mood Nail Polish Skinny Cap (£5)


• Size: 10ml

• Vegan


The revitalising, mildly milky morning coffee of nail polishes – and it dries fast. What more could you want?

3. “Then do the same again with a dark brown - thin it out and add a few spots of that.”


Try: Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy Nail Enamel in Need More (£7.99)


• Size: 11.7ml


Not only is this a gorgeous shade of brown, it also lasts up to seven days and comes with a built-in base coat.


4. “Finally, add a few spots of black.”


5. “For the detailed work for the decoration of the Christmas puddings, the best tool would be a fine liner brush. It’s my bestie when I’m working.” Try the NYX Professional Makeup Pro Brush 11 previously mentioned for creating slick and sharp Christmassy shapes. Enjoy!

THE NAIL ESSENTIALS


Whatever Christmas nail art you opt for (and even if you’d rather have none at all), there are certain nail essentials that no respectable at-home manicure can do without:

For creating a clean canvas

Try: Boots Rapid Removal Nail Polish Remover (£4)


• Size: 200ml


It goes without saying that chipped nails are not particularly festive. Take away last week’s manicure with – you guessed it – this hard-working nail polish remover. Developed to remove glitter (and glue), this is a good one to have to hand throughout the Christmas period.

For the perfect shape

Try: Boots Nail File (£1.50)


File your nails to their desired shape and smooth any rough edges with our cheap and cheerful cushioned nail file!

For a healthy base

Try: Boots 8-in-1 Recovery Oil (£6)


• Size: 8ml


Stronger, shinier nails and soothed, conditioned cuticles will be yours for the taking after four weeks’ consistent use of cuticle oil.

For the finishing touch

Try: No7 Stay Perfect Top Coat (£5.95)


• Size: 10ml


Excellent nail art should be protected at all costs (especially if you’ve gone to the trouble of doing it yourself). So use a top coat that will make your manicure long-lasting and chip-resistant.