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Negative space. Features of the design and preparation of nails

STALEKS Journalist.
I write about the beauty industry, collect information, and share trends. I manage an interview column on the STALEKS YouTube channel.

We are not tired of acquainting you with various popular designs of 2019-2020! We already told you about the bubble manicure, the next in line is the negative space. Where does such an interesting name come from and how to repeat such a drawing?

Negative space – in other meaning, “empty space”. Neil stylists call such a design “bare manicure” – this is the best way to explain the main idea! The pattern covers only part of the nail, forming non-covered gaps. Mainly, this design comes in combination with geometric or moon manicure, or a French. 

Our nail stylists are not afraid to experiment. We have made for you a selection of cool nails with negative space design, and we will tell you the secrets of the procedure.


Preparing nails and cuticles

No matter what the new techniques of hygienic manicure came up with, better than the good old “classics,” they didn’t come up with anything. It is with the cutting manicure that the training of any nail technician begins.

Here you will need an arsenal of professional tools: nail nippers, nippers or scissors for skin, a spatula (pusher), a file with a disposable abrasive.  It is only a small part of the manicure set that pros usually have!

We recommend giving preference to instruments of the STALEKS PRO brand – the range is designed specifically for nail technicians and can withstand constant sterilization after each client. If you give a self-manicure at home, the STALEKS brand tools will suit you – they will just as coolly cope with any task, but will only be stored in your personal set.  And here, too, nowhere without disinfection!

So, with the tools sorted out. Time to move on to the fun part! The easiest way to soften and remove the cuticle with a classic manicure is to hold your hands in a special solution. If you, as a nail stylist, make a manicure for the client in a combined technique (hardware + cutting), then you cannot soak the cuticle – you need to work with the nail drill bit on dry skin.


Consider the process in stages:

1. We treat the hands with a disinfectant.

2. We work first with the nails.

Remove the old coating, if necessary – cut the nail plate with nippers, shorten to the required length.


3. We shape the nails.

To do this, use the “magic wand” – a metal base for the file. We stick a disposable abrasive on it, after evaluating the condition of the client’s nails.

If the nails are brittle and soft – take an abrasive of 240 grit, if strong – 180 grit. An abrasive of 100 grit is suitable for filling artificial nails.  You can use a pack with replaceable files, you can get an abrasive from a cool donut container – it contains as many as 100 replaceable files (8 meters of tape!) 

4. We are going further. Now proceed to the cuticle and the skin around the nail plate.

As mentioned earlier, hands should be held for 5-10 minutes in a solution of warm water with oil. When the cuticle softens, you need to push it with a special stick or manicure pusher. After – cut it with scissors or nippers for the skin.


If you are used to working with the device, immediately after working with the nails, proceed to the treatment of the skin.

With a nail drill bit, you can treat the skin around the nail walls, remove burrs. But to cut the cuticle, you still need a tool – it’s convenient for them to penetrate the sinus zones and achieve the perfect result. A softener will help soften the cuticle.

How to do negative space design?

After a classic manicure, the nails already look cool. But we remember that this is only half the way! We go further to design.

The technology of negative space is simple: you need to choose a motive and color scheme, apply to part of the nail, and do not paint over the remaining areas.  There are two options for how to do this: either bypass a zone with a thin brush, or stick a protective strip on the nail and boldly cover the entire nail with varnish. Part of the varnish will come off together with the strip, and the nail area will be “empty”.

Consider the main trending ideas for negative space:


  • Negative Space and Geometry



Simple geometric shapes will help create an interesting effect. The interlacing of multi-colored triangles and / or stripes will make a beautiful mosaic of marigolds, and an unpainted area will add lightness.


  • Negative space with an emphasis on one nail

A cool idea is a regular monochromatic manicure, but with an emphasis on one nail. “Empty” areas will not overload the overall picture, but will help to pay attention to the unusual design.


  • Negative space and moon manicure

Classic moon manicure is already a kind of negative space, but nail stylists with imagination went much further! Now you can paint over the upper and lower areas of the nail, and leave the middle “empty”, paint the nail diagonally, and make an unusual border.  Sea of creativity!


  • Negative space and bracelets

Thin bracelets can now be “worn” not only on the hand, but also on the nails!  Due to the fact that the main part of the nail remains unpainted, thin colored stripes will look very neat and cute.


  • Negative Space and Broken Glass Effect

Glass shimmers shimmering in the light will look beneficial on bare nails.On the one hand, a suitable manicure for a party and a cool event, on the other – nothing prevents you from walking in everyday life! Simple and tasteful.


  • Negative Space and Minimalism

Such a manicure will appeal to a refined and elegant person who prefers naturalness in the image. Dots of bright color on supposedly “empty” nails, small patterns look interesting.The colors in such a manicure should be quite a bit.

Choose your format


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