MY THREE NAIL ART BRUSHES
Dude. My brush kit is live.
A little background-
If you don’t know me, hi nice to meet you! I’m Katie Masters aka @nailthoughts on instagram. I am a nail artist with a private (and currently Covid closed) salon located in Santa Monica, CA. I try to make sure and answer all the questions I get and give out as much free info out into the nail artist hemisphere as I possibly can to help everyone out. But as my following grew, It was so much harder keeping up with messages and questions, so I set myself up with a blog and youtube channel to help serve everyone all at once with my most common questions I receive! God I love the internet.
And one of the most popular questions I receive after any tutorial I put out is “what brush do you use?” or “what brushes do I need as a beginner”? , and “what’s your favorite brush for ____ design?” And for a while it was always a struggle to recommend brushes because whatever I would be using at the time was always temporary, falling apart, or just an overall whatever brush. And the problem I would see with so many brands was how confusing they made brushes. I would scroll through all of their pages and pages of brushes, each brush for a different design and as a new nail tech I was SO overwhelmed like “well sh*t , am I supposed to have ALL of these???” It confused me SO much in the beginning of my career and stressed me out thinking that I will never be good at art if I don’t invest in all of these different types of brushes for each design. The brush market literally made me feel like I wouldn’t be able to keep up if I didn’t have every. single. brush. And as a new tech it was way too complicated for me to even start to dive into. So I just started with some basic brushes from a nail supply store and I figured they would do until I understood what the real deal with brushes were.
But what stemmed from this was much bigger than I realized. A mindset was born. It was (and honestly still is) a mindset I live by, and all it was, was making it a point to figuring out any design/style by only using whatever I had in my drawer. I know it sounds so simple (because it is) but I was so focused on using only the three brushes I owned because I just KNEW somehow that whatever design I was trying could be simplified if I really broke it down enough . I didn't want to give in to the pressure of constantly needing to buy all the new things. I truly just wanted to debunk all of the complicated art myths and keep things as simple as possible for me and everyone else.
It really transformed my whole technique and formed basically my entire style today. Because truthfully, there are no rules in art. And I think a lot of us tend to beat ourselves up thinking that there are and that if we don’t follow the exact rules , then there is no way we can be good enough. And that’s just untrue. There. are. no. rules. to. art. NONE. ZERO. Our art is only as complicated as we make it (or as complicated as brands tell us it is).
So, I found myself back in the day only using three styles of brushes for my designs. They were so torn up, and honestly gave me wood splinters somehow (?), but hey, I made them work! One brush was something to paint my potted gel as a solid color application, one was a sort of small square shaped brush, and finally I had your average Sally Beauty Supply liner brush. You know the one too, with the floral design on the handle. I KNOW YOU KNOW. These were my only tools for a couple years and that I was left to figure out all of my designs with.
Anywho, I slowly started figuring out how to break down the steps of each piece of art a client would bring in into smaller more tangible steps that I could manage with the three brushes I had. Eventually my art turned into such complicated looking and intricate pieces of art that were literally just made up of a bunch of smooshes, lines, and blobs! And now that I have become so used to making complicated things super simple, it’s my favorite thing ever to spread the great news to anyone and everyone about how easy one of my intense looking designs really is and blowing my fellow nail artist peers minds with how much we have all been overthinking literally ~everything~.
Of course it always so frustrating also to see how many nail techs were (and still are) so discouraged with nail art and so hard on themselves because everything surrounding nail art was so overwhelming and complicated. I HATE COMPLICATED THINGS WHEN THEY DON’T NEED TO BE. I'm always dying to try to figure out more ways I can make everyone’s lives easier. Why can’t things be more simple?! Ugh I could vent about this all day, but I will move on.
And fast forward a few years or so, I came up with an idea to create a super simple and effective brush kit based on the three shapes of my brushes I used 24/7. And then my Application, Smoosh, and Detailer brush were born *cry*. I reached out to one of my favorite nail brands Kokoist, and asked if they would be interested in ever collaborating on a product…like a brush kit. I had been using their brushes for a bit after working my way through TONS. And theirs never fell apart and they were SO EFFING SMOOTH, it’s almost weird. They were just.. different and so refreshing. And they said YES. They are all hand made in Japan out of synthetic fiber (vegan! Woo!) And just. Special. I just saw how much they took pride in their products and I could feel the difference and knew this would have to be the brand I reached out to.
Pictured: Email I sent to Kokoist about the brush kit on 3/18/20
So to spare you on such a super long blog post, LET ME JUST DIVE INTO THE TOUR OF THESE BRUSHES! I truly wanted to create this to hopefully give you all that mental freedom from thinking everything is more complicated than it really is. I want you to realize how much you really can do as an artist with just three simple brushes.
Literally for your potted gel application. Boom. Easy. But also! Why not brush strokes? Why not big swooshes across the nails? Why not ombres? Literally the world is your oyster. It’s not just a one job brush. Remember, no rules! This brush makes gel application so smooth. The firmness has just enough give to it that it’s not streaking your gel, it’s just floating it on. UGH SKDJFNSKJDNF. I may be biased but I don’t know…it’s pretty ridiculous. And listen let me talk about something else. I was never the type of person to have a different application brush per color scheme. I was also definitely not aware this was a thing until I started connecting with so many other nail techs. What I mean by this is some techs will have specific application brushes for glitter gel, for dark gels, for lighter gels, etc. just so other gels don’t get contaminated. Makes sense! And absolutely no judgment from me at all if you feel like going this route! Make your life easy wherever you can! But, I promise if I can live off of ONE application brush for years, you totally can too! All you need to know is how to properly clean your gel brushes. It’s so key in taking care of your brushes and having them for a long time (and also saving money)! Check out this quick 15 sec vid of how to properly clean your gel brushes! And be sure to check the pinned comment as well for extra notes and answered q's!
Dude. I am so beyond proud of this one. Let me tell you why. In my whole effort to try to relieve nail techs of their stress behind figuring designs out, I would break down every. single. design. Into the most simple descriptions. Like smooshes. SO many intricate looking designs are literally just smooshing your brush around the nails. Whether you are smooshing your marble lines to blend them, smooshing blobs of color into other colors, abstract smooshes to fill in some color. SMOOSH IS WHATEVER YOU NEED IT TO BE. It will always have your back and can do so much for you. YOU ARE GOING TO BE AMAZING. YOU ALREADY ARE AMAZING. SMOOSH EVERYTHING. Also bless to Kokoist who literally never questioned me for one second about naming a brush “smoosh”. Literally. Couldn’t ask for better.
Pictured: Smoosh Brush! Think of this one as a way more rounded out version of the Application brush, but TINY. It's so great for smooshing details into smaller sections, smearing and smooshing lines...THIS is the brush responsible for all of my marble lines!
Here is a quick vid of me using my smoosh, then to my detailer, and straight into my smoosh again for some beautiful rose quartz press ons:
Pictured: Smoosh instagram story tutorials I've done over the last couple years!
Check out this video of me making my tie dye press on nails with the smoosh brush as well!
SOME REVIEWS OF THE SMOOSH BRUSH
This. This is the cherry on top. Maybe you do your abstract smooshes, maybe your smooshes were in the shape of a flower, or a fruit, and it’s not ~quite~ detailed enough yet. This is where your detailer comes in to save the day. I use black outlines and dots as such a crutch, I admit, but HEY, THEY MAKE SUCH A BIG DIFFERENCE. Back to how we are making everything super simple, broken down, my nail art drawings always follow the same process: background color, smooshes of colors together in the shape I want (ex. lemons, flowers, etc.) on top, then white or black outlines around the smooshes to seal the deal. So easy when you just break it down in those couple of steps.
Here are a couple examples from past designs where I swipe to show you the smooshes before I go in with the details! Tap through on each for the before and after photos/videos.
And that's all she wrote! Here is the link to my brush kit and ordering from the Kokoist website, you can always use my code NT10 for that extra 10% to save yourself some money as well.
I seriously hope you enjoy them and find simplicity in your art and find that freedom from rules that I did. That was the goal of this kit, and I just know these will make you so proud and happy with your art!!! Send me all the pictures and videos the designs you created with these. I WILL HYPE YOU UP ALWAYS.
If you have ANY QUESTIONS, feel free to reach out to me via IG.
Have a great rest of the day and I wish you all the best of the best.