Stars ‘n Stripes: Alcohol Inks in Nail Art

Happy Summer to all my fellow nail art junkies here with me in the States. And more broadly, welcome back to Kimett Kolor for everyone across the globe. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It is true that the nail art I’m showing you today is particularly “All American”…however, the technique and basic structure could easily be done in different colors and shapes to match any occasion.

I hope you like it and that it inspires you to try alcohol inks in your nail art.

Stars ‘n Stripes Nail Art

Patriotic nail art using alcohol inks and nail-vinyls.

Ok friends, let’s settle in. I’m pretty comfy today and my chores are done (mostly) so that means I now can enjoy spending time with you.

So … let’s chat nails for a bit…after all, that’s why we’re here. Right?!

In addition to celebrating our upcoming holiday with a traditional red, white & blue color palette, I wanted to evoke the feeling of summer in this nail art. Naturally, my thoughts went right to swimming pools! Well, any water that is cool & refreshing – even if it’s from a hose – was an element I wanted to incorporate into the design.

Alcohol Ink & Nail Art

Just like with fluid art, the nail art community seems to be also adopting alcohol inks into their craft. I’ve noticed recently there are several brands now offering inks specifically for nail art, including varieties made for use by either hobbyists or professionals.

No matter what…I am mesmerized by the beautiful designs I’ve seen on Instagram so far. I just have to join in. The inks are just so blendy!! Yup, I just said that. And now, it’s my new favorite word. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Regardless of my excitement level, before last Thursday, I was completely and utterly rusty at all things nails, as well as a newbie to this medium of art. It turned out, this design was forgiving and just what I needed to get back into the game.

Lemme tell ya – now I’m hooked!! I had so much fun dabbing and fluttering about with the brushes. I think I did ok for my first time here…but boy, oh boy, am I looking forward to someday becoming an ink master!

Nail room video

Curious to see me in the throws of it? You’re in luck then because, I filmed my painting session!

Now, this video in today’s post is better considered a “watch me” style, more than a tutorial. Primarily because I left it to be watched in real-time. So many videos are sped up these days – which is more visually pleasing, but I find it also sets the expectation that everything goes together so smoothly (and quickly). After all, real life is almost always a herky-jerky mess with a side of boring.

You probably don’t need proof, but want some? Here’s a mess. Something we don’t often see on videos, for sure.

alcohol ink spill on nail art desk

You might accuse me of pareidolia, but…. Do you see the heart shape on the right-hand edge of the spill? I couldn’t have planned that if I tried. And, you’ll have to trust me, but I did not manipulate the ink or desk or anything. I simply uprighted the bottle. Pretty darn cool.

Anyway, back to the topic of videos…I have a long way to go before I’m a competent video editor…ahem. Cough, cough. But, if you’ve got a couple of minutes, you can watch snippets of the nail art session as it went down. Minus the spilling. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Tips for using inks on nails

Here are the tricks I took away from the learning experience, hopefully as shown in the video:

  • Only a very, very tiny amount of ink is all it takes to make the design. The less ink on your brush gives a more “controllable” and droplet-like design. A larger amount of ink will spread rapidly and create more of a wash of gradient color.
  • The same applies to the amount of alcohol on the brush. You only need a small amount to make an impact.
  • Also, the longer the ink dries, the less it will be manipulated by the alcohol (or mixing solution depending on the brand).
  • On the other hand…one can be lulled into thinking the ink is dry enough to be smear proof when applying top coat. Heed my warning: both time and care are required. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • The ink does clean up fairly easy when some inevitably touches your skin. I used acetone, q-tips, and my regular clean-up brush. However, it is still best not to flood your nail plate – it’s not that forgiving.
  • Not surprisingly based on the last point — particularly when painting a full nail design, it is best to add ink to a nail with a matte surface.

Ok – without any more ado – here’s the video as promised. More info and photos still to come after the movie interlude.

Did you know? —–> Stamping is my preferred design image tool, but I do enjoy the look made with nail-vinyls too. Two of my favorites are this tone-on-tone textured mani and these sparkling suns.

Polish Palette

Items needed for creating this nail art design:

  1. White polish
  2. Blue and Red alcohol inks
  3. Nail vinyls/stencils for stars and waving stripes
  4. Base coat, Quick-dry or gel top coat, Matte top coat
  5. Make-up sponge, small container & brush for alcohol
  6. Optional: latex skin guard, tweezers
collage of items used in Stars 'n Stripes nail art design by Kimett Kolor

Highlights of the items I used are:

  • Marble Tints by Cheri x NailJob | Cinnabar Red, Sapphire Blue
  • Drugstore brand | 91% Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Madam Glam | Perfect White
  • Hit the Bottle | Snowed In
  • Ejiubas | nail-vinyls

Design Details

This is a pretty straightforward design to explain. It begins with a common set of tasks: Prep nails, apply a white color base, top with matte top coat. After that, there are only three main steps.

  1. Create the background of the design with inks. Two blue nails, two red nails, and a half blue & half red nail. Of course, if you’re one of “those” people that go out in public wanting both hands painted…you could simply double the recipe. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  2. Manipulate the ink pattern with alcohol. See my tips listed earlier in this post). After drying time, apply a quick-dry or gel top coat to seal the ink (it is vulnerable to liquid and wiping off) and as preparation for using the stencils.
  3. Sponge the stars & stripes patterns using nail-vinyls and a makeup sponge with white polish. If desired, start this step by applying a latex barrier around the nail. Personally, I have mixed feelings about using it with stencils because you can’t reposition them without pulling up the latex prematurely – you may have noticed in the video that happened to me on my middle finger.

All that’s left is to remove the nail-vinyls, top-coat, and clean-up. It’s worth noting that it is easier and keeps time on your side of things if you work on one or two nails at a time while performing each step.

Pictures or It Didn’t Happen

work-in-progress, red and blue alcohol ink nail art background
Red & blue background before adding the white stars & stripes
red, white and blue nail art design for July 4
Finished look
close up of thumb nail art
Close up of thumb design

Looking for more patriotic nail designs? —–> These easy red, white & blue dry-brush nails can be completed last minute, even right before the picnic.

Stars 'n Stripes nail art design by Kimett Kolor for Independence Day
Happy Independence Day!

Thanks so very much for reading this post, visiting my blog, and commenting below if you so choose. It means an awful, awful lot!!

Till next time – may your inks never spill or flood, may your top-coats never smear, and may your polished nails bring you joy.

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