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How to Do a Ruffian Manicure

The ruffian manicure is a spin-off from the moon manicure.
The ruffian manicure is a spin-off from the moon manicure.
Marianna Massey/Getty Images

Some people feel the perfect outfit just isn't complete without the ultimate finishing touch -- a flawless manicure. There are so many different ways to go with a manicure. Unlimited colors, clear coats, shiny buffs, French, acrylics. The list goes on and on.

A few seasons ago, the hot new trend was the "moon manicure." With the moon manicure, you painted the half-moon shape near your cuticles one color, and the rest of your nail a different, contrasting color. Playing off the moon manicure is the ruffian manicure, also called the "reverse moon" manicure. Instead of a half moon shape at the bottom of your nail, you paint a crescent shape. Think of it as your cuticles smiling at you.

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Sound appealing? You don't need to pay a manicurist to do a ruffian for you. You can do one at home. Here's how.

First, buff and clean the nail. Then apply a clear base coat.
First, buff and clean the nail. Then apply a clear base coat.
Comstock/Thinkstock

Every manicure should start with a good base. First, make sure your nails are buffed, smooth and clean. Apply a clear base coat. Ensure it's completely dry before you continue to the next step.

Next, choose the color that will appear on the "moon" of your nail. You can choose any color you like -- but we recommend you pick something that will contrast with the color you'll be putting on the rest of the nail. Most ruffian manicures feature a lighter color on the bottom and a darker, opaque color on the top. A popular color combination is gold for the "moon" and black for the rest. It's very striking and tends to elongate the nail.

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Paint the entire nail with the color you want for the "moon." Wait for it to dry completely. It's crucial you let it dry all the way, or you'll risk streaking or mixing the two colors.

You can choose whatever contrasting colors you like.
You can choose whatever contrasting colors you like.
Photo courtesy of ThinkstockThe Nailasaurus

Now that the base coat is dry, it's time to put on the second color. It's not too difficult once you get the hang of it, but you'll need a steady hand, so be warned. It's best to choose an opaque color for this coat. You want something that will work with one or two coats at most. Too many coats will make the nail look lumpy and sloppy. Sheer polishes won't work.

Place a drop of polish in the center of your nail. With the brush, push the drop down a little bit until you decide where color No. 2 ends and color No. 1 begins. Then move your brush upwards to the top of the nail, creating a vertical stripe up the middle.

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Do the same thing on the left and right sides of the nail, following the curve of the base. You'll see color No. 1 peeking out in a crescent shape at the bottom of your nail. It's just like painting your nails normally, except you start the color a bit higher up. Make sense?

You can use the crescent-shaped stickers from a French manicure kit to help with your ruffian manicure.
You can use the crescent-shaped stickers from a French manicure kit to help with your ruffian manicure.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Once you've completed your ruffian, wait until it's completely dry, then apply a top coat to seal it all in and protect it. You're finished! Sit back and admire your handiwork.

If you don't completely trust yourself to freehand color No. 2, you can use French manicure guide stickers. Just turn then upside-down. Remember, never put the stickers on color No. 1 until it's absolutely dry or you'll risk lifting up or smudging your work. Place the stickers near your cuticles in the crescent smiley shape and then quickly paint on color No. 2. Many experts say not to remove the stickers until color No. 2 is dry, but we've also heard people say they've had good luck removing the stickers while color No. 2 is still wet. You may have to do some trial and error before you find what works best for you.

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After your ruffian is dry, you can also experiment with adding polka dots or little nail jewels to further dress up your manicure. You're only limited by your own creativity!

For more nail and beauty tips, check out the links on the next page.

Related Articles

Sources

  • The Lacquer Files. "Nail Art Tutorial: Ruffian Manicure." July 31, 2010. (May 22, 2012) http://thelacquerfiles.blogspot.com/2010/07/nail-art-tutorial-ruffian-manicure.html
  • She Said Beauty. "Ruffian Manicure." Jan. 23, 2012. (May 22, 2012) http://blog.shesaidbeauty.com/2012/01/23/ruffian-manicure/

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