1) Crackle Polish
This is almost a no brainer. Base coat. Two coats of color. Allow color to dry (at least 75% of the way, if you're impatient). Apply a thickish coat of crackle polish in as few strokes as possible (you're aiming for 2-3 passes with the brush). Apply top coat. In this picture I used Spoiled Toad-ally Amazing (mint creme) as the base and OPI Shatter in Gold (lovely and sparkly) as the crackle:
Using a creme polish basecoat (OPI Lincoln Park After Dark, pictured) and a chunky glitter polish (Milani FX in Gold) on only part of the nail yields a cool, sequined effect. I applied the glitter over half dry base polish directly with a brush. These glitter pieces are quite large, and it took a bit of coaxing to get them roughly where I wanted them, but the entire glittering process only took 5-10 minutes, and imperfection was the look I was going for, making this a hard to mess up nail art option.
For this look, I applied two coats of OPI for Sephora Metro Chic (griege creme), let them dry 3/4 of the way and then applied a silver glitter polish using a sponge to the tips of my nails only. This sounds way harder than it is. Simply dab a puddle of glitter polish onto a paper plate and apply using a torn up makeup sponge.
This is another sponge painting technique. Two coats of black or navy creme, topped with a plethora of colors and glitters using the paper plate and makeup sponge technique detailed above. I like to use a combo of mint and nude cremes, yellow gold shimmer, silver holo glitter and silver glitter. Finish off with toothpick applied dots of white creme and a good topcoat.
As anyone who has tried nail art knows, not every design goes as planned. Take water marbling, for example. The technique involves making a bullseye of polish droplets in a cup of water, swiping through the polish with a toothpick, then dipping a masked off nail into the puddle in order to transfer the polish. After two solid nights of attempting this, and developing a pretty spectacular acetone high, here is my best attempt:
Can't win them all.