Saturday, 24 May 2014

My Dotticure 101

It's no secret I love my dotting tools, I have been asked a couple of times about how I place my dots.  There's no real secret to it, dotting tools are ace: a quick way to get an eye catching manicure which looks like you spent hours (or used wraps) but actually took very little time.

In this post I have covered my two sized randomly placed dots and uniform polka dots.

My dotting tools cost about £2 from ebay, I bought them from a UK seller.  When dotting I have an array of colours (usually bright), a bit of scrap paper to dollop my polish on (other bloggers use plastic lids as you can clean them down and reuse them, we have loads of scrap paper so I use that!), kitchen roll to wipe my dotting tools on and pure acetone in case I need to clean my dotting tools down: usually this will be because I was lazy on my last use and didn't remove any remaining polish!  My most used tool is the pink one, it has a big and small dotter and I love it.

Some general tips to start off with
  • Hold the tool like you would a pen!  This includes the none dominant hand too.
  • Take full advantage of the surface you are working on, use it to support your arms and help you have a steady posture.
  • Practice!
  • Experiment.
  • Polish can get a bit stringy after a while, if you see any hints of stringy-ness, clean your tool off and dollop a new splat of polish on the paper / plastic lid / stamping plate you are using.
  • Don't forget the edges, dot off the end to get a partial dot, you can clean up cuticles afterwards.
  • Clean up before top coating, the time you spend on cleaning the cuticle areas gives the dots some drying time, less chance to smudge the dots.
  • If at first you bugger it up, remember it's only polish and you can clean it off and try again!

Two Size / Random placed dots
This is the type of dotticure I do the most!  These can be done with as few as two or as many colours as your nails will reasonably hold, I like to have four bright colours over a neutral base.

Some examples-

I have found that my nails (when they were this length) would hold four to five large dots and then I'd fill in with smaller dots, if I was using four colours, no more than three small dots per colour.  This type of dotticure is ideal for when your base coat hasn't gone on perfectly or you managed to smudge your nail as you can place the larger dots to hide an imperfection and then topcoat smoothes it all away.

In the picture below I used a base of SpaRitual Uncomplicated, my dot colours were OPI Do You Lilac It, SpaRitual Delight, Kiko Cerulean Blue, SpaRitual Magnify and Barry M Key Lime.  The pictures below show how I built up the dots.

The last photo showing correction is part of the reason I love dotty nails, they are simple to correct.  I layered a green dot over pink which can sort of be seen in picture 10 (the light doesn't help I'm afraid) I dotted my base colour over it.  I then left that a minute or two and redotted the pink to round it off and added the green where I wanted it to be.  The top coat totally hid the correction.  Sometimes if I feel I have too many of one colour in the smaller dots I will simply dot over them with a different colour.

Polka Dots
The other type of dots I like are polka dots, evenly placed and evenly sized.  To see the best, most uniform and evenly sized polka dots I think Claire of Kerruticles is the absolute queen.  I have mainly used polka dots as a base for something else.

Some examples-

My approach to polka dots is this

Don't forget the "off the tip" or "into the cuticle" dots, pictures 5 and 6 show how I forgot to dot into the cuticle area!

One of my suggestions above is experiment, not long after getting my first textures I found that leather and textured polishes work quite well for a contrasting dot, then I realised how great matte polishes were.  Holo's also work well.  Plain white bases make colours stand out, but don't be afraid to try a dark base or even a random creme finish polish for your base.

The picture below is an experiment, matte base with a glittery textured polish for dots, two totally contrasting finishes and it works so well!

Holo dots over black really pop. This is my two sized dots, placement not random though.

Purple creme base contrasts nicely with pink, white and teal dots.

The next picture features my most subtle dots ever - Barry M silvery white textured polish over white, the dots almost blended in!

All creme polishes in a rainbow of dots, this is just my normal two sized dots, but the placement is less random.

The base is matte and the dots are shiny.  I tried something a little different for this: deliberate placement. I did my large dots like pictures 1-3 of polka dots, then the smaller dots like in pictures 4-5 of polka dots.

The other type of dots I don't tend to do are one sized, large random dots, I recommend you visit Alison UK Nail Runner as she has some fabulous posts featuring big dots, randomly placed.  My nails are too short for these big dots!

There are so many more looks you can achieve with a dotting tool, eg using them to make flowers, gradients.  Debbie Crumpet has started a series of posts "Simple - Muggles to Mastery" and has a Facebook group for this series.  Some upcoming blog tutorials will be using dotting tools, so keep an eye out over there for further dotty posts.

If you have any questions for me on my specialist subject dotty nails, please feel free to comment on this post, leave a post on my Facebook page, tweet me @bornpunk78 or email me.

I have begun to use my own hashtag for dotting posts #dottyaboutdottynails if you do attempt a dotticure and share it on IG or Facebook, add the hashtag and I will take a look :)


  1. Great post!! I also love dots as a fun way to add a little something!!

    1. They are bright and cheery aren't they?

  2. What an amazing post! Cheers :)

  3. Fabulous post! I love your dotticures! They are always gorgeous!

  4. This is great! I love hearing the "method to your madness" concerning dotticures. I am always jealous of how perfect the placement is on all of your manis!

  5. Thank you so much for the kind words, but I think of *you* as the queen of the dots!

    1. You are the uniformly place polka dot queen :)


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