What is a Nail Art Brush?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

A nail art brush is a tool used by manicurists to draw designs nail polish and patterns on top of natural or artificial fingernails. These brushes are also sometimes used to create designs and patterns on toenails. In addition to being used in professional settings such as nail salons and spas, these brushes are sometimes used at home by people who have learned to make their own nail art. There are a few nail art brush models that are used to create various effects just as there are different paint brushes that are used to create different effects in paintings on canvases.

Artificial fingernails with nail art.
Artificial fingernails with nail art.

In most cases, a nail art brush is a very fine tool with just a few fibers or hairs. The fine, thin tip of the nail art brush allows the user to create very fine lines and details. This is important because, even on larger nails such as the thumbnail and the nail on the big toe, the working area is quite small. In order to create detailed designs on those small spaces, one must use both skill and exact tools.

Ornate nail art design on artificial fingernails.
Ornate nail art design on artificial fingernails.

There are various kinds of designs that can be created using a nail art brush. Some of the most common symbols that are incorporated into nail art art floral images such as flowers and vines and celestial images such as moons and stars. It is also common for women to choose nail art designs that correspond with the seasons. A woman might have a Christmas tree painted on one of her fingernails during the winter holiday season.

A nail art brush set commonly includes three to six brushes, which may or may not have different types of brushes on both ends. This kind of set usually includes one brush that is used to paint lines that are long and thin, a brush that is used to make lines that are shorter and thicker, and another brush that is used to make dots. The set might also include a fan brush.

Another type of nail art brush is an air brush. In some salons, an air brush machine is used to paint designs onto fingernails. This kind of machine might also be used to quickly create a French manicure. Instead of drawing a flower or star in the centers of the fingernails. the machine is used to create an even white line on the tips of each of the fingernails.

A nail art brush can be used to quickly create a French manicure.
A nail art brush can be used to quickly create a French manicure.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


@shell4life – I just use the most basic fine-tipped nail art polish brush, and I love it. The paint doesn't bleed, since the brush is so tiny.

It's really easy to draw on my nails with this kind of brush. I will never use anything else for nail decoration. It's so nice not to have to go to a nail salon anymore for decorative nails!


I've never used brush on nail art paint before. I've used nail art pens, but I don't like them much.

I usually paint my nails a solid color about half an hour before I use the pen. Even though I use the kind of polish that dries in one minute, it is still a little pliable when I use the pens, and it always makes ruts in the polish when I push down.

Are nail art brushes easier to use than the pens? Does the paint tend to bleed out, or does it mostly stay where you put it?


I had no idea that there were so many types of brushes for nail art! I knew about the thin-tipped kind, but I never imagined that there would be fan brushes for nails!

I am an artist, but I do my work on canvas instead of nails. I am familiar with fan brushes, because I use them to create the illusion of leaves on trees.

My fan brush is about an inch and a half wide at the bristles. I'm sure a nail fan brush is much smaller. It would be strange to use something so tiny to create art! I probably wouldn't be as skilled at doing such detailed work on such a small canvas.


I think it would be so cool to use an airbrush for nail art. I've seen people in salons use them, and it looks so easy!

They use stencils to make the designs with definite borders and to keep the paint from spraying everywhere. I think that with the help of stencils, even I could create some nice nail art.

Unfortunately, these airbrush kits run around $120. I just can't invest that much in something that I won't be using to make more money, because I would only be doing my own nails.

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