Beautiful nails are the ultimate girly indulgence, and now the age of the internet has opened up a whole new universe of wild and wonderful designs. But achieving catwalk-worthy talons is easier said than done.
If you're anything like us, you'll spend hours painstakingly trying to recreate a tiny flag or palm tree on your nail, only for it to descend into a smudgy, cotton wool-flecked mess.
Fear not: those in the know are here to help. We've scoured the inspirational promised land that is Pinterest for the hottest nail trends out there right now - plus tutorials on how to re-create each look for yourself. Scroll down for brilliant summer-inspired designs, from exotic fruits to stained glass effects and newspaper prints.
And as an extra bonus, we've thrown in top tips on nail care from the legendary Sharmadean Reid, nail artist and creator of the WAH Nails salon in Dalston. A few months ago, Sharmadean joined Stylist.co.uk for a live web chat on all things nails, and now we've re-published some of her best advice.
Read on for everything you've ever wanted to know on nail art and maintaining tip-top talons. As Sharmadean herself says, "Nail art is here to stay! How can you go back to having plain nails when you know what is possible?"
Summer fruit nail art
These tasty selection of summer fruits are easy on the eye and perfect for summer. We particularly love the kiwi and the raspberry - note how the texture is built up via layering.
Find tutorials on how to create each summer fruit on thecraftyninja.com website.
Newspaper print nail art
These rather cool literary-themed nails come courtesy of the folks alldaychic.com, who have devoted an entire tutorial to the topic. Newspaper and rubbing alcohol are your two main ingredients here - the rest is down to careful application.
It's chic, original and relatively easy to do. What's not to like?
Stained glass nail art
These breathtakingly beautiful nails are inspired by artist Tom Fruin's stained glass Watertower sculpture in Brooklyn, New York. They are the handiwork of NY-based freelance conceptual nail artist @Raqstarnails and just goes to show there are no limits where your imagination is concerned.
Click here for a stained glass nail art design tutorial via Dailynails.com.
Mixed nail art
Electric blue teamed with glitter and a feather design? We like. There's an appealing synchrony that flows through this look, making it simple and at the same time gorgeous.
Find out how to create feather design nail art here.
Rainbow nail art
We're big fans of the fact that these nails are a.) textured and b.) a creative, rather than perfectly finished, interpretation of the rainbow theme. It reflects the concept of just going with the flow when it comes to nail design and painting on whatever takes your fancy.
Find a few more rainbow design nail art tutorials here.
Abstract nail art
Let's face it, who doesn't want glorious abstract-print nails that look like they've walked straight out of an art gallery? These particular beauties are a joy to behold with bold, black prints interspersing summer pastel colours.
Marbled nail art
This marbled effect is beautiful but we can imagine it goes wrong easily in application. Making the colours blend into each other rather than smudge to form a messy set of smudges must be an art form in itself.
Toothpicks are the killer tool, apparently. Find out how to create your own marble effect nails with this tutorial from mrkate.com.
Jaws nail art
Image: Kayleigh O'Connor via Rex Features
The world of movies is all the inspiration needed for Birmingham-based media studies student Kayleigh O'Connor, who decorates her nails with popular film, television and cartoon characters.
Figures from Batman, Dr Who and Star Wars have all held pride of place on her talons but our favourite designs are these ones from Jaws. It's the ultimate nail version of Steven Spielberg's iconic deep sea thriller.
Nail care tips from Sharmadean Reid
Sharmadean Reid, nail artist and creator of the WAH Nails salon in Dalston.
Looking after your nails
- The best way to file nails is in long strokes in one direction. This will keep your nails from flaking, and keep them strong.
- I really believe that good nails, like hair, start from within. Check your diet; are you getting enough iron and keratin rich foods? Then take care of your nails daily. Gently buff any peeling bits off then rub Vaseline onto your nail bed to seal your nails. Vaseline is good for everything!
- Regular manicures are the only thing to sort your cuticles. You can buff them off slightly but it’s tough to cut them yourself.
- On when to give your nails a break from polish: It just depends - you know your own body, you know your own nails. If they’re weak and peeling then yes, give them a breather. But if they’re strong and tough then they can handle the polish.
- For split nails, try a fibreglass overlay at the salon. It’s like a thin mesh that is applied with resin to heal your nail. Then just let it grow out naturally.
- For nails that curl at the top, I would try and keep them short or perhaps try an acrylic overlay which will work as a brace to keep your nails straight.
- If your nails are discoloured from nail varnish then you must use basecoat. I’d recommend lemon juice on cotton wool to get rid of the discolouration and then sweep over again with acetone.
On nail art and more
- I don’t wear stick-on nails, you have to apply glue all over your nail which isn’t so healthy. Get gel or acrylics instead!
- Wraps are cool and we're doing our own, but they don’t last as long as polish and you can’t be as creative. It’s basically just like having the same dress as everyone else at a party. With our designs you can customise it to your taste. I also hate when wraps start to peel and get caught on everything after, like, one day.
- On 3D nails: Use nail glue or a thick topcoat and you must seal it with topcoat afterwards! And I would seal it daily to help them last longer.
- On nail art: Practise, practise practise is all I can say. The more you do nail art, the better you get.
- Nail art is here to stay! People said the same thing about fake eyelashes, hair extensions and other beauty trends. Girls just want more options. How can you go back to having plain nails when you know what is possible?