What is Digital Nail Art?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2019
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Digital nail art is a type of cosmetic treatment used to add color or designs to the fingernails. Traditional nail art involves a nail technician painting nail designs by hand with nail polish or by using an airbrush device. The digital version uses a printer that applies paint onto the nails and can generally achieve a more detailed and less time-consuming end result than by having a nail technician paint the nails by hand.

The printer used to perform digital nail art colors the nail designs using a inkjet printer cartridge. It also consists of a clamp used to position the nails and keep them still while the color is applied. Some printers may have clamps that hold one nail at a time, while others may be able to paint all the nails on one hand at once. Some printer models also come equipped with a camera so a person can take a picture of a real object and have a replica of the image painted onto the fingernails. The device may also have the capability to receive images uploaded from cell phones or memory cards.


The process of applying digital nail art first begins with a nail technician applying a base coat of a clear nail polish onto the client’s nails. This base coat is intended to protect the nails from the ink and provide a more durable foundation so the nail color is less prone to chipping or rubbing off. Once the clear base coat is dry, the nail technician may then apply small rubber skin guards that cover the skin near the nails to keep the ink from coming in contact with the skin. The fingers are then placed into the clamp inside the printer underneath the printer inkjet, which releases ink onto the nails in a pre-selected design.

Digital nail art training is generally not as involved or detailed as painting nail designs by hand. The training tends to be similar to computer or software training rather than traditional manicure training in beauty schools. It typically consists of learning how to upload images to the printer, selecting designs, and running the printer. The most hands-on portions of the training involve learning how to prepare clients’ nails, and positioning their fingers underneath the printer.

People who recommend digital nail art tend to promote the process as being more affordable and quicker than traditional manicure designs painted by hand. The cost of printer ink may often be cheaper than some high-end nail polishes used in many nail salons. The process can often be done within minutes or even seconds. Using a printer also can allow more options for the nail designs since it can even print photographic images.


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Post 2

@ocelot60- I had digital nail art put on my fingernails for a special occasion, and I have to admit that it was very pretty. I got a lot of compliments, too. However, your point is very valid because the design only looked good for about 10 days, then my nails started to grow out. I enjoyed the experience but plan to stick to basic nail polish and traditional manicures in the future.

Post 1

This sounds like a strange, costly, and pointless way to decorate your nails. What is the purpose of digital nail art when your fingernails grow out so quickly, which would ruin the design?

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