As nail art trends continue to rise in popularity, innovation and design patterns influence brush type, size, quality and shape. Fine points and sufficient paint capacity are two features nail technicians look for when purchasing standard nail art brushes. Top quality brushes generally have bristles made of 100 percent sable with high-grade compact plastic or carved wood handles as well as synthetic bristles used primarily with water-based nail colors. Standard brush types are often available in nail art kits that include different sizes to create various designs.

Round Brushes

Though brushes differ in type, shape and quality, the round brush is considered one of the most versatile. Nail technicians use this brush type to draw intricate design and stroke patterns. Since the brush holds paint well, it is also used for 3-D nail art made with acrylic powder and monomer — acrylic liquid. Since small brush sizes are commonly used in nail art, the round brushes are numbered, varying in width. For example, a size 2 brush has a significantly narrower width than the size 14 brush.

Liner and Striper Brushes

Nail technicians work with detail brushes to create hand-painted art using varying degrees of pressure, pull and position. Though brush styles vary, the liner is used to draw line work, outlines or letters to create personalized nail art. Another alternative tool is the striper, which is used to draw in horizontal and vertical straight lines, as well as artistic wisps, netting designs and animal patterns. Both the liner and striper brushes are available in small, medium and large size brush tips


Creating long, flowing stroke patterns, blending and shading are just a few techniques that the flat brush is used for by nail technicians. Flat brushes — also known as shader brushes — are available with squared off or angled bristles. This brush type is used to create one-stroke designs. For instance, the angled flat brush is used to make one-stroke flower pattern designs.

Fan, Detailer and Dotting Brushes

While it’s good for brushing on or off excess flocking powder or glitter, the fan brush is also used to create texture and gradient color effects. This brush type — also known as a sector brush — can be used as a blending tool. Other standard brushes include the detailer and the dotting tool. The detailer brush — also referred to as a spotter brush — is used for nail art requiring precision. The dotting brush, just as the word implies, creates dot patterns. This brush has a small head tip and is available in small and larger tip sizes to create various sized dots. Check brush kits for specific sizes prior to your purchase.