Ciaté seems determined to make DIY nail art a whole lot more fun (and easy). Of all the mani kits available today, the U.K.–based brand's are among the most original. We tried two—one for a "chalkboard" mani (yep, it's erasable!) and one for layerable colored-foil nails—and spent the better part of an evening playing around with them and having tons of fun. Because each kit comes with everything you need to create the looks, they make great gifts. And both are ideal for back-to-school season!
While chalkboard wall paint has been around for awhile, at the time of writing, this Chalkboard Manicure kit nail is the only one of its kind on the market. Thankfully, it's almost as good in practice as it is in theory. Inside, you get a Chalkboard Paint Pot, the super-matte black base layer, "Mattificent" matte topcoat, and "Chalk Pens" in four colors: Jump Rope (pink), Recess (yellow), Teacher's Pet (blue), and Satchel (white).
Los Angeles–based nail artist Christina O’Hara, who created both of these looks, found the Chalkboard polish formula to be a little goopy. "That's true of most nail colors that contain mattifier," she says. "To avoid streaks you'll need at least two if not three coats" (Ciaté recommends two). One thing that might help you get a more even base layer, suggests O'Hara, is to use regular black polish for the first coat followed by a layer of the Chalkboard on top. Then, you create designs with the Chalk Pens, which are erasable with water (just put some on a cotton pad) within 30 seconds. For us, the pink and yellow erased a lot easier than the white or blue. It helps if you let the base layer dry completely first.
Overall, this one is great for playful, sketch-like looks. Because the Chalk Pen tips are more rounded than fine, it's hard to get a lot of precise shapes—polka dots are easier than stripes! In the instructions booklet, there's a spread of doodle ideas for inspiration, too.
For ease of use, the Very Colorfoil Manicure kit is the winner. There are three color options available. We used "Carnival Couture," which comes with a full-size candy pink Paint Pot, a mini bottle of topcoat, metallic foil sheets in six shades, and Foil Fix glue. The application couldn't be simpler. Do two coats of polish to start and let it dry. Follow up with the glue, using its brush applicator to dab a bit here and there—this is where the foil will show. Before the glue dries, grab a sheet of foil, press it onto the nail, and peel it back quickly. You'll be left with a metallic splash, and you can keep layering on different colors of foil to achieve the look your want.
Once you like what you see, set it with the topcoat. It's easy to try variations on each nail, and still come out with a cohesive, pro-looking mani. Party perfect!