A Drybrush Manicure You Can Do While Watching TV Without Missing Anything

This nail art is so simple, you could do it and successfully follow a whole episode of your favorite crime drama.
Publish date:
January 29, 2016
manicures, nail art, butter london, opi, illamasqua, easy nail art

I do nail art like other people do cross-stitch or online shopping: in front of the TV. I have definitely missed essential plot points in any number of shows and films because I'm concentrating on my nails. The only series in recent memory I haven't painted my nails during is Making a Murderer, because that is some gripping stuff.

You can do complex nail art in front of your TV or laptop screen, but you’ll probably get distracted by Oscar Isaac’s face (I have to finish Show Me a Hero) and mess it up, which is the actual worst. But don't worry, because I am here with a nail-art tutorial so simple you could do it and successfully follow a whole episode of True Detective.

Dry-brushing is a great technique to master because it requires no special tools and you don't need to have a steady hand to create the look. It's also a handy way to use polishes in your stash that have gone a bit gloopy or that you don't like enough to wear on their own. This technique does not require you to be able to colour within the lines, and the clean up afterwards should be a doddle.

Here's what you’ll need:

  • Base coat (optional). I use OPI Nail Envy because it's the bees knee’s.
  • A pale or neutral base colour. I like metallic colours because they make the accent colours pop. Here I used Butter London's Champers.
  • A selection of accent colours. You do you! I have used a selection of bright and neon colours with translucent or "jelly" finishes to let the metallic base coat show through a little.
  • Top coat (essential). I use xoVain favourite Sally Hansen Insta-Dri in the red bottle.
  • Cuticle oil to finish, because it's always a good idea to moisturise. I use jojoba oil.

Step 1: Prepare your nails

File your nails into your desired shape and push back your cuticles. Clean your nails thoroughly with remover to get rid of any oil or dirt, and make sure you don't leave behind any lint from the cotton pad. If you're using a base coat, apply it now and let it dry. Good preparation will improve the end result and wear time of your manicure.

Step 2: Base colour

Apply two coats of your base colour and allow to dry fully. I watched some episodes of Adventure Time because that show is pure joy in a dark world. Leave the clean up for later if you make any mistakes.

Step 3: Get brushing

Grab one of your accent colours. Open the bottle and draw the brush across the rim to get rid of as much polish as you can.

Using quick, gentle strokes, brush randomly over the nail. Three or four strokes per colour should do it.

If you’re feeling a little nervous about your technique, no worries! Grab a piece of paper and practice your strokes first. You’ll see in the image below how little polish actually transfers to the surface if you wipe the brush thoroughly before starting.

Step 4: Keep brushing

Continue building up the brush strokes with each accent colour, making sure to remove as much polish from the brush as you can before you start. If you're using minimal amounts of polish and light strokes, you'll be able to build up lots of thin layers without mixing the colours.

Step 5: Clean up

Clear up any mess you’ve made with a cotton bud or small paintbrush dipped in polish remover. Because we’ve been using such small amounts of polish, this part shouldn't be too difficult.

Step 6: Top coat

If you allowed plenty of time for your base colour to dry, you will be able to apply a top coat as soon as you finish with brushing. The brush strokes will dry very quickly because the layers are so thin, which is one of my favourite things about this method. No waiting ages for your nails to dry while you wish you went to the bathroom before you started!

Step 7: Instagram your hard work

I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t my favourite part.

  • What’s your favourite show to watch while you do your nails?
  • Have you ever tried this technique?