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Get the Ultimate Prom Nails

Nail art so pretty, no one will suspect it’s DIY.

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Pretty prom nails are the ultimate accessory… and, if you ask me, as necessary as a pair of glam prom shoes. A gal in a gorgeous dress, prom 'do and evening makeup should absolutely have her nails groomed. Otherwise, it looks like she just… forgot.

Funky patterns, designs, multi-colored and crackled manicures are all the rage right now. And, they're quite easy to do yourself! You can make your nails as unique as your personality.

I've put together a few photos of my favorite manicures. All of them were done by me or some lovely ladies that I know. So, if you're looking to save some money during your prom preparations, these manicures are easy to copy! Click on any of the photos to see these manicures up close.

But first, some tips for getting the perfect prom manicure:
  • Instead of using a color that matches your dress exactly, use a lighter or darker shade of your dress.
  • Practice your manicure at least once a few weeks before the prom.
  • If you're manicure-challenged, ask a friend to do your nails for you the day before the prom.
  • Tiny rhinestones look cute, but use them sparingly. They're known to pop off easily.
  • If you're doing your nails the day of prom, plan on doing them in the morning… before you have to touch your dress, your hair or your date! It's the only way to ensure your nails don't get ruined.
Complete the look. Check out these prom makeup ideas.

1. Galaxy Nails

Kristen Williams
No two galaxy manicures end up alike! Start with a dark blue base coat. That’ll be your background. Then, sponge on a bit of lighter blue and pink, but only on select areas of your nails. Use white polish to create tiny stars by using only the tip of your brush. When it’s dry, sweep across a layer of sparkles. These are by the lovely and talented Kristen Williams.

2. Newspaper Print Nails

Danni James
Extra, extra! Transfer newsprint or comics onto your nails in a jiffy using a bit of rubbing alcohol, just like Danni James did. First, paint your nails with a light, earthy polish. Gray, light green, and khaki work well. Then, cut ten strips of newspaper or comic print. Dip your dried nails into a bowl of rubbing alcohol, then dip one strip into the bowl and shake it out. Apply the alcohol-soaked strip to your nail and press down on it with a paper towel for ten seconds. Then, peel off the strip and top it off with some clear polish. Danni switched it up and did a tuxedo design on her ring finger.

3. Striped Nails

Danni James
Stripes on every nail may be a bit much. After all, you don’t want to your manicure to clash with your prom dress. Stripes on two nails… classy. I especially love how one nail features vertical stripes while the other one has horizontal. Danni used two different colors to create her stripes, but you could use one… or even three!

See my best beauty tips for prom.

4. Big Sparkles

Cassandra Morris
One of the easiest ways to add dimension to your manicure is with glitter polish. Pick a shade that complements your dress, apply two coats and let it dry. Sweep on a top glitter coat and you’re good to go. Note: big sparkles are much harder to work with than little sparkles.

Check out more nail ideas for prom.

5. Crackle Manicure

Cassandra Morris
If all you can handle is painting on two coats of nail polish, but still want a textured manicure, get yourself a bottle of crackle nail polish. A few different brands make them- OPI Shatter Nail Polish, Mia Secret Crackle Polish and Sally Hansen Crackle Overcoat. I used Black Shatter by OPI for this manicure. I started with a light gray base coat, then used one coat of Black Shatter to create the crackle look. The polish took some getting used to, but after two nails I had it down.

Feeling inspired? Compare prices on crackle nail polish!

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