For the amount of space they take up on our bodies, finger nails have come to play a surprisingly large role in how we express our personality, or adjust to particular seasons in our lives. Alternating colours of deep crimson and pine green are common around Christmas, as are brighter shades of red around the Lunar New Year, and white or pastel French manicures for weddings.

As you can imagine, there are a whole multitude of tools and accessories to beautify and maintain your cuticles. Here’s our quick 101 to help you understand what’s what in the world of nail beauty.

Glamming Up

Conventional nail varnishes need no introduction. There are too many brands, types and shades out there to ever name comprehensively. If there is one brand you should be aware of though, it’s American-born giant OPI. At the time of writing, OPI’s official website sports six unique collections, each with myriad colours, plus another section dedicated to fan favourites.

On Qoo10, merchant NailPolicious offers close to 300 unique shades from OPI’s latest and previous catalogues. Whether you are going for easy-to-remove varnishes, or hardy and life-proof gelishes, OPI has you covered.

If you tend to be the type who always seem to bump into things, or stub your toe at every other table you walk past, you may want to check out Korea’s WithShyan. Aside from being free of DBP, toluene, and tosylamide formaldehyde resin – three toxic chemicals commonly used in conventional polishes – their Phantom range with more than 40 shades promise to dry in 60 seconds flat, an absolute god-send when you’re rushing for time (and honestly, who isn’t rushing for time these days?) or if you need to quickly fix chips in your nail polish between appointments.

Just try not to spill the bottle.

Speaking of fixing, here are two must-have products if you’re all about that perfect nail polish job – OPI’s Base Coat and Top Coat treatments. While the base coat prime your nails with a smooth under-layer, the top coat helps to seal your polish in and protect it from the elements, with a high gloss shine shine to boot. You may want to get these if you don’t wish to spend on, or have time for, gelish-based treatments.

No time for even quick-drying polish? No problem. Nail stickers can easily be applied to nails, filed down to size, and just as easily removed at the end of the day. You can even opt for a simple basic manicure, and adorn your nail-top with costume crystals, for that extra bling.

Cleaning Up

As with any beauty regime, keeping your nails in prime condition for any of the above treatments come with a whole host of tools and products made for maintenance. Ready to dive into the world of DIY nail beauty and care? Get started with these comprehensive lists of nail care tools to keep your cuticles in perfect shape.

Remember also to maintain that healthy glow with OPI’s cuticle revitalizer oil. Packed full of beneficial oils and nutritious vitamins for better nail health, this product comes in a fool-proof applicator, and a wide range of 15 fragrances to smell good, while you feel good.

And there it is – the basics of nail art. Are there any must-haves that you didn’t find in this list? Drop a note in the comment section below to let us know!