Everything you see above is my minimal but essential set up to paint. I have much more, but this is what I really need and would take with me on a desert island. Read down below what I use and why.
|acetone, water bowl and clean up brushes|
The little jar with the beige cap contains acetone. Luckily the acetone doesn't eat the plastic and I always pour in a small amount and close it immediately after clean up. No waste this way and since it's also very flat I can easily clean out leftover glitter or shimmer particles whenever the acetone is gone.
I believe it's an old make up mousse jar that my sister used ages ago.
I have two different clean up brushes. The one with the transparent handle is from a 7pc set from ebay. Just search for 'nail art brush 7pc set' and various should show up. All 7 are usable for clean up, so that's great and I can swap them out if the damage from acetone gets too worse.
The other one with the pink washi tape wrapped around is the famous elf concealer brush. I once got it in a swap but it's way to stiff for my taste. But that stiffness is actually perfect for removing stubborn glitter and shimmer from your cuticles!
|remover, nail files & top coats|
Most of my nail care items are from German drugstores, sorry if that doesn't help. But there's seriously no need to purchase expensive stuff from overseas here.
What top coat I use is probably one of the most frequent questions. And here's the answer: p2 Quick + Go. I care a lot about ingredients and this one fits my standards. And it's cheap, I have a dm drugstore 5 mins away from me and it does it's job.
My favorite matte topcoat is also by p2 ultimate matte.
I've also put a bottle of peel-off base coat in the photo, because I always use it under glitter or gel polish. Such a life saver!
Other staples are nail polish remover (with acetone!) and glass files.
So, WHAT BRUSH DO YOU USE? Definitely the most popular question on IG.
I have a few that I like, and again I can pick them up locally in Germany by German brands. I don't know where you can get them so please use your favorite search engine. They all cost around 5-6€ so that's really okay for the quality and results they give.
Pictured is Rico Design Fine Art 7320.000 in size 0. Rico Design Fine Art 7321.000 is pretty much the same and I bought both of them at Idee, a German craft store.
Not pictured, because I don't have them on hand right now, but I also very much love daVinci series 1505 in size 5/0 or series 1515 in the same size. I bought mine at art supply stores, but I don't see them very often as they are made for retouching.
All of these don't require any cutting and the bristles are made from sable which makes them soft and easily controllable. They are perfect the way they are.
Also in the picture above is a pin needle for super tiny dots and a wooden skewer like you would use in the kitchen. I use it to scratch of mistakes made with acrylic paint and since it's really long I can re-sharpen it with my nail file. I couldn't live without it anymore!
|up close on my clean up brushes, detail brush and the wooden skewer|
|Rayher Allesfarbe / All purpose paint|
Pictured are black and white but I have many more colors. I just go through these the most and if I'd travel somewhere I'd only take these 2 with me and deal with other brands colors.
I love these because they are very opaque (black in 1 coat, white in 2) but also not too thick. I personally prefer more liquid paints, so these might not be for you if you don't.
Also, you don't need any expensive paints or those specifically for nail art. Just try out whatever you have access to and I'd recommend to always test the white first. If it's not very opaque you can assume the same for other colors from the brand and you can continue your search with something else.
I always tried to explain why I love using all those items listed. So even if you can't get anything from my basics, you hopefully have an idea of what feature to look for.
I really recommend trying out lots of brands and different things to find your perfect basics. That's how I found mine and I'm sure there are similar things available in every country.