Trend to try: Negative space manicure.

All images by Carla GS.

Looking for a nail art trend that’s a) super-easy, b) quick, and c) sure to invite compliments from everyone you meet? Well, look no further than negative space nails.

Wait, what? Negative, what?

Leaving part of the nail naked and unpolished is the key to the negative space nail trend. It’s about letting your natural nail colour and texture shine through, while also contrasting with your nail polish colour.

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It’s like a sexy cut-out dress, but for your nails. (Post continues after gallery.)

“Negative space” is actually a super-arty term, so if anyone asks about your chic new nails, you can also teach them a bit about art history. An artwork which has “negative space” usually puts a focus on the space that we don’t usually pay attention to.

Related: What happens when real people try catwalk nail art.  

Well, now that you’ve had your art lesson, here’s a relaxing nail tutorial as your reward. I rarely do nail art because it can be time-consuming and fiddly, so trust me when I say that this nail tutorial is a totally achievable cinch.

 You will need…

Nail polish and washi tape = nail art time!

To create my negative space manicure, I used one clear base coat, two coloured or textured polishes (Sally Hanson Complete Salon Manicure in Golden Rule and Purple Heart), and some masking or washi tape. For a faster, easier manicure, you can just use one colour of nail polish.

This manicure took about an hour. DIY nail art is for people like me who enjoy it and find it relaxing, so I was happy to invest that time. Cooking, on the other hand...

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Step 1: Clear base coat.

Wow, I bothered with a base coat this time. Winning!

A clear base coat will highlight your natural nail colour, and also protect your nails from getting stained by the coloured nail polish. My biggest tip here would be to let the base coat dry completely, or even better, do the base coat the day before.

I was impatient and didn't wait for it to dry, so it peeled off later. Oops!

Related: Nail art that won’t get you fired.  

Step 2: Masking tape.

This is not the finished product yet! Don't panic!

Cut some masking tape into long, triangular shapes, and apply them in random diagonals across your nails. Keep in mind that the masking tape should go where you don't want the nail colour. This means that where the masking tape is applied, your nails will stay naked underneath.

I used some washi tape (colourful or patterned Japanese masking tape, made from paper) that I got from Kmart. It had "Happy Birthday" written all over it, and I thought it was really ugly. During this stage, my husband walked past and asked, "Why are you sticking 'Happy Birthday' all over your nails?" in this really perplexed tone. Men!


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Step 3: Coloured or textured nail polish.

Almost done...

Apply two coats of coloured or textured nail polish on the exposed (non-masking tape) parts of your nails. I chose an orchid purple and gold glitter, to create a fun, futuristic kind of look. Instead of applying the polish in strokes, it helps to dab it on instead. This makes it easier to be neat, while also ensuring that the masking tape doesn't get pushed out of place.

I tried to explain the concept of negative nails to my husband, and he just quipped, "I already have negative nails, because I bite them and there's no nails any more." Thanks for that, babe.

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Step 4. Drying.

Has anyone else noticed how truly versatile blowdryers can be?
My nails were warmer and dryer.

I've tried practically every nail-drying tip out there - special drying drops, plunging my fingers into iced water, waving my arms about like a lunatic, etc. - and I've just had to accept that painting your nails means you will have to wait patiently for them to dry.

This is actually really great for me, because I'm one of those people who is always busy and doing stuff, so I just sat down and watched The Real Housewives of Melbourne, and tried to chill the F out.

Of course, that's after I spent ages blasting my nails with a blowdryer, and then waving my fingernails under the air-conditioner whilst standing on my couch. As Delta Goodrem says, I was born to try.

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Step 5. Peel off the masking tape to reveal your masterpiece.

Negative space, positive feels.
Just casually resting my hand here, for you to admire it.

Next, my favourite part! When your nails are mostly dry (too dry, and the polish may crack), slowly peel off each piece of masking tape. It feels so satisfying to peel it off! If you're very neat and have the time, dip a cotton bud into some nail polish remover, and clean up any excess bits of polish on your nail beds. Or, if you are lazy like me, you can leave it and just hope no-one notices...

Related: How to completely disguise chipped nail polish.  

Step 6. Work it!

Selfies also help me to write better.

Oh hey, I'm just at work and posing casually with my cool nails over my face, it's no big deal. I swear, it makes my writing better.

Would you try this negative space manicure? Tag @theglowau on Instgram with a pic of your negative space nails - we'd love to see your handiwork (pun intended)!

Want more nail art? Check out this gallery...