Makeup Monday–Painting Nail Art Roses

More than any other nail art question, I get asked how to paint roses on fingernails. Everyone assumes that since roses are so pretty, they must be incredibly difficult to make. Not so!  Making a straight line is about a million times harder! This tutorial will show you how to make a perfect rose garden on your fingernails using nail polish and acrylic paint.


There are only a couple of tools you’ll need: A fine, flat-tipped paint brush and a super-duper-fine pointy paint brush. I’ve bought a ton of paintbrushes over the years hoping to find one with an incredibly fine tip for doing detailed nail art. My favorite brushes so far have been from this set of 5 brushes by Martha Stewart that I got at Michaels. They’re for painting glass, of all things. Who cares what you use them for! They’re great (especially if you have a Michael’s Coupon). I really only use the two finest ones but the other three might come in handy for other things.

You’ll also need either nail polish or acrylic paint for the flowers (Yes, I’m telling you that you can use plain old acrylic paints that they sell at the craft store). For the base of the flower I usually use the same nail polish that I use for my other fingers so it will match perfectly. This yellow is gel polish (Angel Pro Gelly #20). For the darker-colored detail on my yellow roses I used Delta brand acrylic craft paint.

Step 1. Paint your nails. Make sure they’re nice and dry if you’re using traditional polish. If you’re using gel polish, cure them but don’t use the top coat.

Using a flat-tipped brush (this is the crappy brush from one of my kids’ watercolor paint sets), put a few blobby-looking circles on each nail. You don’t want these to be perfect circles; that looks weird.

Let the circles dry/cure completely.

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Step 2. Find a color about 3-4 shades lighter/darker than the flower base. On this nail I’ve used a medium pink so I could either use a pale pink or a really dark pink. I did a few flowers of each so you can see the different look of each one. Basically, though, if you have a pale flower base, you’ll use a darker color. If you have a dark flower (red, for example), you’ll use a pale color as the accent.

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To make the details in the rose you’ll use your super fine brush to make about two or three lines. One towards the top of the rose, one towards the bottom that kind of swirls into the middle. You don’t need to be really scientific about this. I promise that you will be kind of disappointed by your roses. It’s not until you do the leaves that they actually look like pretty flowers.

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Step 3. Rinse out your superfine brush and make some leaves. They need to look a little like teardrops.

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If you really want to go for broke you can add a darker shade of green to the top of every leaf.


Step 4. Apply a top coat. Acrylic paint flakes off very badly. Apply at least one layer of clear topcoat. Now get ready to enjoy all the compliments!

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