Nail Art Gallery + Gel Nail Removal Tips

Before I got really into makeup or shopping, I was actually a nail art junkie. It first started with me buying some cute nail art stickers at local Korean makeup brand stores (ex: Missha, the Face Shop, etc.). This was how I did my nails for a long time: nail art stickers + stones, and I still got lots of compliments on my nails.

However, one day, my close online friend, fuzzy unnie, showed me some of her own nail art, and I was so shocked! She had all these fun patterns and dots which she told me was done by herself at home. I had no idea you could do those things at home! I thought those kinds of nail art had to be done at expensive nail shops. She totally inspired me to give it a try myself, so I immediately bought a Korean nail art book (샨의 네일아트, which I’ll talk about more in another post) and learned all about DIY nail art.

Korea actually has really good quality low priced nail art supplies. They are almost wholesale price compared to what you would pay in North America for nail art tools/supplies. I plan to make a post of my supplies and where I get them later. Today, it’ll just be a nail art gallery, and my gel nail experience ^^

These aren’t even half of all the nail arts I have done, because they take so long to do and by the time I finish, I’m just too lazy to take pictures.

I am definitely not the best at nail art and still need lots of practice and improvement, but I’d still like to share some of the designs I have done! In order of time taken (some of these are 4+ years old!):

nail art

nail art

These nails are obviously very amateur, but I look back on these and I smile thinking how ‘cute’ I used to be. =p I mean, I clearly didn’t have much technique or skills, but I still truly enjoyed what I was doing — and I think that is the most important part. I was still learning about clean and even polish application, color combinations, nail art placement, polish consistency, etc.

It’s the same with makeup. A lot of my friends say they don’t know how to apply eyeshadow, so they will never try, or after one false attempt let their eyeshadow palette sit around. As a teacher I always say to my students — I love it when you guys make mistakes — you learn from them!

There are so many ways to use an eyeshadow palette without doing the conventional light color + dark color + shadow blending. You can brush just one shade over your whole eyelid with a sponge tip applicator (or even your fingers!), or use a soft angled brush + dark shadow as an eyeliner. Play around with your palette and you’ll learn more and more about shadow application.

Same for nails. You don’t have to be a pro to start off with just some stickers and stones. You can even make your own dotting tool at home. Just play around with what you have! I’ll make a post on nail art supplies and tools you can make at home later.

Back to the nails.



nail art

Very first nail art I learned to do from 샨의 네일아트. I chose something way too hard to start off with, so it took way longer than it really needed to!



nail art

Also learnt from 샨의 네일아트. This time I chose something easier! =p The hot pink index finger is so messed up =p

nail art
I also redid these nails recently for my first Lookbook post.



nail art

Inspired from 샨의 네일아트 and my favorite cell phone accessory white tiger from Everland (amusement park in Korea). To me, this one was a total fail because 1) I should’ve painted a lighter color under the tiger painting first so it can have brighter finish, 2) this is not gel nail and nothing is glued on so the pink bead as its nose fell off within a day and it was so annoying to have to keep replacing it!



nail art

Also inspired from 샨의 네일아트. One of my favorite nails but it’s definitely not something I can do often because it took 6 hours (including drying time in between coats and I don’t own a drying machine). I actually had to split it into two sessions because after 3 hours I was getting tired and sleepy and was no where near done. What was really hard was and slows things down is trying to paint the triangles with my left hand T_T



nail art

Inspired from a Japanese nail magazine (Nail Up) and one of my other favorites. I saw the skull and spider on separate nail looks and combined the two. I also love pairing that neon green with black polish.

nail art

Messy disaster after every nail job =p You can see the magazine on the table! I love watching Starcraft when I do my nails because it’s interesting but I can still look away for long intervals without feeling like I missed a lot and having to rewind. Also the casters do a great job narrating what I cannot see.

Who is on that calender? =p



nail art

This is a totally original nail art design. I just decided I wanted to 1) try out my new grey nail polish, 2) have some stars on my fingers.

I loved how it turned out at first and got sooo many compliments on this one, but after 3 days I already got sick of it and wanted to take it off! I get sick of nail color / art so easily, but because they always take hours to do, I always keep them on for at least 3 weeks (of course, with some repairing in between)!

nail art

After finishing the star nails.



Camwhore alert!

nail art

I don’t know about you, but I always think nails look better with a face than close up shots. The upper right shot with the pink and white gradient nails are not in the gallery. I really love that one because it has a very soft and girly look. I must redo it sometime and get a clearer shot of it!

And I know, I am an utterly shameless camwhore. I give you my deepest apologies for having to look at me pose like that. I will provide a money refund for those who had to use toxic eyewash to clean their eyes. Please send me a receipt of your eyewash purchase within 30 days of this post and I will send you a refund.

But hey, when I first took these pictures, I didn’t mean to be posting them anywhere!! It’s was just for fun =p So, whatever!



My experience with Gel Nails

gel nails

Gel nails with painting + 3D art (on middle fingers) professionally done at a nail shop. I’ve only been to the nail shop twice before — first time was with a coworker who treated me to a nail maintenance + color because she had a discounted package of 10 nail sessions (or else I would never pay someone to paint my nails!), and second time was doing these gel nails with my best friend on my Hong Kong trip last Christmas. I chose this design from a photobook they had. I love how absolutely bling it looks and how long it lasts without having to worry about chipping.

There were different packages that includes stones or painting or 3D art, which can also be charged separately. I think I paid for a gel nail + painted art package and separate charge for 3D art on two nails. Total was around $40 USD. It took around 2+ hours. It was totally worth it because gel nails cost about $100 USD in Korea, not to mention mine included painting + 3D art. Anyone going to Hong Kong should look into getting gel nails done because it seems to be much cheaper there than North America or Korea.

If you ever do gel nails, you must definitely go with a friend. It was soooo much fun. First, we went around the whole building (in a small shopping mall) asking for prices and packages. Then, we finally decided on a shop that was good quality, cheap, and had enough technicians to do both our nails at the same time (lots of places only had one — probably the owner). It was so fun choosing a design for each other and ourselves, giving our opinions, and just chattering away. We were so loud and talkative it was kinda funny.

In the end, we were both really happy with our nails and it was soooo much fun. The only small downfalls to my gel nail job and gel nails in general are:
1) I like nails that really pop and stand out, but I felt like the light purple didn’t. My friend pointed out that I should’ve chosen a color that wasn’t so close to my skin tone. She was totally right. I should’ve went with the aqua blue that was the color in the original design picture.
2) You have to pay to repair or remove the gel nails professionally. If you don’t repair and fill them in as they grow out, it will start to look kind of icky. Removing them yourselves is also a big pain in the butt.

My friend recommended I file down the nails as it grows out so it wasn’t so long. I was too lazy to do that. I ended up cutting off 1/4 of it (the bear’s legs) about a month later when it grew out. About 1.5-2 months later, I cut off another quarter of it (the bear’s body). My friend said she filed down the top of the nails into as thin a layer as possible, then wrapped it with a cotton pad filled with nail polish remover, and then go over that a tin foil + elastic band (I guess to insulate the remover) and leave it on for 15 minutes. But can you imagine having to do that for every single nail?? I tried it for one nail, and it took me about 10 minutes to file down the thick gel nails (which killed my nail filer T_T), and the remover didn’t remove the gel completely after 15 minutes.

My nails are now really damaged because I ended up ripping a lot of them off (I know, it’s terrible, but I was really impatient!).

In the end, what I recommend, if you are like me and too cheap to pay for professional removal, is to first choose a design that won’t look too terrible when it grows out. So choose a design that is clear (no color) near the cuticles, where your nails will grow, so that the gap between your gel nails and real nails is less obvious.

As it grows out, just file or cut off the ends. Once about half of it is cut off (and probably most of the design is gone), just file down the top of the gel nails as much as possible, until it can blend in with your real nails without looking bumpy, and then just keep applying a coat of color polish over it as you would with your regular nails until the gel grows out. You can keep cutting or filing the edges off with a regular nail clipper and a strong filer in between color jobs. It will look something like this:

nail art

You can see the edge of the clear gel nails on my ring and pinky finger, but I bet you didn’t notice it when you first saw it above! Those were the only fingers I filed down but didn’t rip off because by the time I did the other fingers, I realized I was killing my finger nails. It’s sooo tempting to just rip them off!



I was going to give a basic introduction to the nail art tools you can use to do all of the nail art designs I showed, but this post is getting long! I will do it in a future post, along with a nail tutorial.

Meanwhile, here is a preview of the tools I will show you how to use:

nail art tools



Also, if there were any designs in the gallery that you would like to see how to do, please write in the comments to this post and if there are enough requests for it, I will do a tutorial ^^

Otherwise, I already have a tutorial on the way showing how to use the sponge. Look out for it!



24 Comments to “Nail Art Gallery + Gel Nail Removal Tips”

  1. Oh wow! I’ve always wanted to try nail art – i guess I will after I finish school. I’ve always had the impression that getting nails done professionally are expensive. A manicure here’s like, 100 dollars. Can’t even begin to imagine how horribly expensive it’d be for all those bling. (I really love gems on the nails though. EEK xD).
    Does those gems drop off easily? Like, those you did yourself. Please do a tutorial on the star ones! Are those nail stickers? And, uh, I really like the chain on the blue and white pokka dotted nail. :D /cough/andit’smybirthday/cough/

    • You totally should! I’ll do a post later for people considering stepping into nail art ^^

      Manicures back home in Vancouver are expensive too. A normal maintenance + color is probably I’m guessing $25 or so. In Korea, lots of places do it for $10-15! Maybe it’s because polishes are much cheaper in Korea. Lots of polishes are just $1-2.

      The gems on the nails I did myself don’t drop off easily. They stay on quite well actually. However, the bigger it is, and the more sparse you place the gems, and the closer to the edge of your nails you place it, the easier it will fall off. However a bunch of small gems placed in the center of your nails will not fall off until you remove it!

      Okay, one vote for the star one~! And the stars definitely are not nail stickers! There is only one sticker on the star one on my pinky finger. Everything else are beads or glitter of an assortment of sizes.

      생일 축하해요~! ^^

  2. Hey Sharon! Love your nail art.. I think I might try that checker/gingham thing you had on some day! I also like the blue plaid design. You must be very patient! Because I couldn’t stand to paint lines over and over, layering. I’ve been very lazy with nail art lately. Hehe. XD Also, just wanted to let you know I tried painting my nails with a matte nail polish + matte top coat! Here are the results (:

    It changed the original matte texture a little bit… but then again I was using a different brand for the top coat. It still worked, though! And it was chip-free for at least 2 days and kind of bad tipwear on the third. XD

    • Thanks so much Pan ^^

      I was very patient back then but nowadays I’m really lazy as well T_T Your icecream cone design will always stick out in my mind and I’m sure that must’ve taken a while as well? I’m also just terrible at drawing pictures, esp freehand, so I tend to stick to shapes/patterns =p

      I like your French manicure~! left you reply there ^^ It’s really weird though how you often mention chipping with matte polishes because I used a matte topcoat on a few of my nails right now and I’m still fine at 4th day! only one of my nails chipped and that isn’t the one with the matte top coat.

      I’m so glad to have someone into nail art as well here =p

  3. i love the fourth picture ( where you only did the top of your nail) and the bear nail art …very cute .

    • Oh, thank you! I didn’t think anyone would like the bear art but I’m surprised when some ppl do say they like it because… I thought I totally butchered the poor bear (btw it’s not a bear, it’s supposed to be a white tiger T_T see that’s why I think I did such a terrible job! lol).

  4. one more thing…is it Key of Shinee on your calendar?

  5. you know what? i hate you. T>T LOL JK! How can you have such pretty nails! :O I wish I can do that. unfortunately, we can’t put nail polish bcuz of work. its so dumb. i hate it. but anyways, my favorite here was the checkered one..i wish it was orange tho. lol. and the bunny looking nails :3 kkkkkk. PRETTY! and I LOVE ETT ONNI! ^^

    • what is ur work again michelle? hmm sometimes even if i was not allowed to do nails for work (like when I worked at McD), I would just do a more natural color! haha.

      oh, orange checkered would be so interesting! I’ve been wanting to do a green version of those plaid nails though one day XD

  6. wow, so many designs! :D it’s surely inspiring… need to find time to do this though x)

    • I know, it is soooo hard to find time to do nail art. I just hate the drying time and I don’t have a drying machine!

      • it’s true xO I hate waiting for just regular color nails! just imagine those 8|
        but I heard there are some like sticker nails that you can just put on your nails and they work like nailpolish… I have yet to find these though :o

        • You mean a sticker shaped like your nail and put it on instead of polish? You don’t mean nail art stickers (like ribbons and such), right?

          That would be a totally cool idea, but there’s no way the sticker can match your nail shape/size, so probably need to shape it which in the end it would be a bit of a pain?

          I just wish nail dryers were less expensive, smaller, and more accessible.

          • yeah the first one xD
            true… I’m thinking more like stickers so maybe more like cut the extra? idk xD
            TRUEE! 8O

          • BTW I found them!! :D those sticker nails… the brand is Sally Hansen and there’s different designs and such… hopefully next week I’ll have time and do a little thing on it like you have here :D if not I’ll send you pics of how it is :)

          • Oh!! You should show me if you get the chance ^^ Email or anything you like:

          • Alrighty, sent email cx

          • I’m so sorry I did read and check out your email I will reply you soon you know how crazy busy and hectic things are for me now T_T eek!! 미안~!!

  7. Oh, wow, these are so pretty! Thanks for sharing!

    I’m a bit like that with make up, I hardly wear any unless I’m going out to a party or a fancy dinner or something. I know everyone keeps saying practice makes perfect, but I’m so bad at it. And lazy, too :P

    I really like paining my nails, though. I used to only paint them and use nail stickers, but have recently started getting more tools. I’ve not request, but hope to see future nail tutorials here :)

    • I think the problem with nail art for most ppl is not that its hard to do, but laziness =p but also polishes and nail art supplies are quite expensive in North America. Many polishes in Korea are even just $1! You can’t even get that at a drugstore in North America! How about the UK?

      I do have a nail tutorial coming up but it takes so much editing, haven’t had a chance to get to it yet T_T

  8. Love your blog..

    Do you know where is the cheapest nail art store in korea?

    Im planning to buy lots of tools 😊😊😊

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