Maneki-Neko Nail Art: Wave To Everyone With Your Beckoning Cat Manicure

This Japanese symbol of good fortune has been embraced around the world, and it makes for an adorable accent nail.
Publish date:
March 27, 2014
nail art, How-To, cats, nail polishes, Sally Hansen, maneki-neko, Seche Vite

You've probably seen maneki-neko, or "beckoning cat," hanging around. This sweet feline figurine is considered a good luck charm and can often be found perched in windows or near the checkout counter at Chinese or Japanese restaurants. Sometimes the arm is mobilized, and it bobs up and down, beckoning at passers-by and wishing them well.

I picked up my own maneki-neko in Japan, where they were first seen about 300 years ago, and now it hangs out near my desk. I remember shopping forever and ever until I finally found the perfect little ceramic one. And it's the inspiration behind this manicure.

FYI: This mani does take some patience, time and a steady hand. If you follow my steps, though, and if you move slowly and carefully, you'll have your own lucky cat on your fingernail.

Here's what you need in terms of polish colors: a nude base, a bright red, black, white and a shimmery gold--I'll save you some time and recommend Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Nail Color in Golden-1. Unlike many gold polishes out there, this one isn't sheer and one coat suffices.

You'll also want a top coat (I'm using Seche Vite), a nail dotting tool and a small nail art brush.

Start by painting your nails with the nude base color.

After your nude base dries, use your nail art brush to paint on a fat, white circle on the tip of one nail.

Add a slightly smaller circle on top with two triangles for ears. Take your time and don't rush it. Patience is the name of this game.

Using your nail art brush and a careful hand, gently outline the entire white section.

Let's create the little beckoning hand. After all, that's what makes this maneki-neko, not just a neko. Use your black polish and brush to draw a backwards, long "C" against the head. Carefully fill it in with white polish.

Now we'll add even more detail! Use the black to draw two eyes and a cat mouth. A lot of times Maneki-neko has open eyes, but sometimes they're closed. Closed eyes are way easier to draw on a tiny space, obviously. You can also add whiskers.

With your red polish and brush, draw on the collar and create two small dots--or lines--within the ears.

Finally, use your dotting tool and place one gold dot on the collar.

You can keep the rest of the nails as they are, or you can keep painting.

I used striping tape to create triangles on all my other nails and filled them in with my red polish.

After the polish dries, remove the striping tape and place gold dots on the points with your dotting tool. Allow the polish to dry a bit, then apply your top coat.

Now beckon with your beckoning-cat hand.