Konad Nailed It!

Nail art? Usually not something I'm into. It's one trend that straddles the fine, fine line between tasteful and tacky: Glitter? Can be okay. Airbrushed sunsets with glitter? Probably not.

While wildly decorated acrylic nails quietly disappeared (for the most part) earlier this decade, nail art is back and as popular as ever—and not just in an un-ironic way. The trend can run from the outrageous to the subtle. You'll see hipsters flaunting talons with Lakers logos imprinted on purple and gold; Japanese gals overloaded with 3D plastic rosettes that actually sit on the nail, along with pearls, rhinestones and, yes, glitter; and you've still got your standard flowers hand-painted by nail technicians.

And, really, I was still skeptical. While all of the above take lots of patience, talent and, more often than not, money, it still wasn't all that practical—until I was introduced to Konad. (Which really is the worst possible name for a nail-supply company—I can't help but think of Conan's gonads. Or coffee and gonads.)

Created by a Korean company, Konad is a simple way to imprint designs of your choice on your nails that anyone can do at home. Select from premade designs set on image plates, paint a layer of nail lacquer over the design, scrape off the excess, and then run a rubber stamp-like device over the design. Now apply the stamp to your already-painted nails in a "rocking" motion, and you're set: perfect design, tiny margin for error.

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Konad's image plates are also a hit-or-miss: Pass on the tiny images of butterflies, hearts and the Bible (really!); it's the all-over designs that cover your entire nail that are really worth your time and money. And the simpler the better. Image plate M57 is one of the most popular, with zebra stripes, leopard prints and a chain-link-fence-like pattern. M80 has polka dots, while M45 has simple French-tip strips.

The trend has initiated a huge following on the Internet, with entire message-board threads, blogs and Tumblrs dedicated to Konad art: how-tos, video tutorials, ideas, new products, everything you can think of. While Konad isn't readily available in stores (though plenty of horrible counterfeit copies are), you can find them easily on Amazon.com or at the official site, KonadNailArt.com. A stamper-and-scraper starter kit will typically run you less than $5, while a design plate (with multiple patterns!) is around $4.

And hey, since fingernails are so small, it's really not an awful place to reveal a little color and creativity after all—just within reason. To avoid that "tacky" side of things mentioned earlier, keeping your nails short and manicured will help circumvent anything such as glitter or tiger stripes or kittens or Nabisco-cookie logos (true story!) or whatever it is you want to show off on your nails.

This column appeared in print as "Nailed It!"

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