Thursday, October 6, 2011

Water Color Nails

     Let me start by saying that I am a complete newbie to nail art.  I am seeing more and more DIY nail art demos, and some of the effects look so easy and amazing.  (This one's for my oldest niece because we never got to go get our "manny" ;) and pedi when she was in town) After seeing a couple sites featuring water color nail art I decided to give it a go.  This one was definitely not as easy as it looked.  
     Water color nail art is when you let several drops of nail polish drip in to a cup of room temperature water, swirl it in to a design, dip your nails in, let dry and clean up the edges, and the result is almost like a marbling effect.  Here's how it went for me:
    ( I'd like you to keep in mind, this is my second attempt at this.  The first time went even worse than the first.  I ended up spilling nail polish remover all over my dining room table.  Opps! Please, do this away from wood :) Heck, even put some newspaper down under your cup. )


  • a small glass or plastic cup ( I used a ramekin, it had old polish stuck to bottom from my first try)
  • lukewarm or room temperature water in the cup
  • masking tape
  • a few different colors of nail polish (I've read it works better with higher quality brand like OPI) If you don't have any maybe you can borrow some from a friend
  • nail polish remover
  • cotton, or Q-tips, or t.p
  • a tooth pick

Step 1:

     Start with a couple coats of a white or light colored polish on your nails to create a base coat.  I didn't have white so I used OPI's Hopelessly in Love. It's a pale pink color. White may work better.  I am also going to try a dark base color with lighter colors in the water and see how that works.

Step 2:
     Take small pieces of masking tape and tape around your nail.  This is to make the clean up easier.  It works the same if you skip this step but it just makes it easier.  Can't see too well from the picture but it's all around the nail. Don't cover the nail though!

Step 3:
     Next you are going to want to loosen the caps of the nail colors you chose so that it can be faster and easier when you're ready to drip.  I chose a Taupe, Purple, Teal, and light beige color.  Pick ones that will look good together, or ones you really like. Make sure you have a light one in there, the effect seems to come out better.  Chose the first color and hold it over your cup so that it drips a drop in the center of the cup. Don't dip the whole brush in. This is what it will look like:

The color will spread on the surface of the water.  Sometimes for me it would bead when it dropped in to the water and sink to the bottom.  I've found that the water was too cold or I had to shake up the polish a little better because thats not supposed to happen.  

Step four:
     Use your second color and drip it in the center of the first.  Continue alternating colors, dripping in the center of each until you have a few layers. Try to work kind of fast because the polish dries on the surface of the water and the longer it dries the harder it is to work with.  This is what it looks like:

Step five:
     Next, take your tooth pick and dip the tip in and lightly drag the colors around to create designs.  Again, don't work too slowly because it is drying and the tooth pick could pull all the polish off the surface and you have to start over wasting more polish.  Here's what my design was:

 Step Six:
     After you're happy with the design you take your finger or fingers, and dip it in over the design you want captured on the nail. Other tutorials say to hold it in the water, but i find it worked way easier when I just quickly laid my nail over top of the design and pulled it out.  Then there was still polish on the surface with designs that I  used for a couple other nails.  I've also dipped several nails at once and still got random designs.  One finger at a time may work better though.  
      If it dries too fast in the water the polish will pull out and off on your nail like a film and stick to you nails being yucky and gross so I recommend doing 2 or 3 nails then starting with fresh polish drops and designs. (When you want to start over,twist your tooth pick or a q-tip in the water and it will pull out all the polish on the surface) Repeat process on each nail and let dry.  This may take several tries like it did for me.  The design would miss my nail or what not, but I think with this nail art, practice makes perfect.

Step Seven:
     Once your nails dry remove the tape and see what you have.  Take your nail polish remover and clean up the excess polish around the nail that missed the tape.  Tah Dah! All done. Oh. wait and a clear top coat to seal it all in and make it last longer.  Again, this may take several tries as it did for me,lol, but the results are worth it.  I did this one in a rush this a.m. before taking my little one to school so not the best results but here are how the best ones turned out so you can see the awesome results you can get.  I will keep trying this with other colors and such.  It's a fun project to do with your friends or when you're bored.  
     Let me know how yours comes out, or if you have any tips for making the process any smoother I am all ears. I know there are people out there way better at nails so show me what you come up with and post a picture.Thanks! 


  1. Wow that looks awesome....I'm going to definitely try this!!

  2. this is really neat. I love seeing what color combinations people use. =)


  3. This is so pretty! I'll have to try this soon. Thanks for showing us how to do this!