Friday, November 11, 2011

DIY Nail Decal Tutorial

As promised, I made a tutorial for you guys on how to make your own nail decals! I kind of adapted this technique that I had seen in a few places, the first time being on cutepolish's Nyan Cat tutorial, but I wanted to try doing it for the full nail, kind of like the Sally Hansen polish strips. My freehand nail art skills on my own hands were kind of slipping, especially for my non-dominant hand since I'd been doing so much art on nail wheels and sets for my Etsy!

So here's the step by step process! It's really fun and pretty easy too! Give it a shot!

First, the supplies you'll need! A basic plastic ziploc sandwich bag. Use just the basic sandwich/snack type, not the heavy duty freezer ones because the plastic won't be flexible enough, and saran wrap will be too thin. You'll also need a Sharpie or other thin, permanent marker, and a pair of small manicure scissors.

Open up the bag and start by sticking your thumb inside, and close the zipper around your finger, like so:

Take the Sharpie and trace around the shape of your thumbnail. It's best to tighten the bag around your thumb a little bit, but don't pull it completely tight so it's wrapped around your thumb, just pull it a little taut so it curves around the fingernail a bit.

Continue this for each of your nails. I start with the thumb in the middle, then outwards towards my pinky (the pinky is the extra one on the bottom). It's best to do it this way so you can keep track of which decal fits which nail, especially if you're doing a mani that's a picture that travels across several nails and each needs to be in the right spot for it to make sense, or even just a mixed mani that you want to be in a certain order.

Leave the tops open - it's best to paint them longer than you need so you can be sure they will fit, as it's easy to trim them down!

Now, within your guidelines, paint your designs! I flip the bag over and actually paint on the other side, not directly on top of the Sharpie lines because I don't want to risk any pigment transfer from the Sharpie into my nail design.

Here's my shabby chic roses design from my last NOTD! DO NOT put top coat on these while they're on the bag!

You'll want to let these dry for a good long time, at least overnight. They'll feel dry enough to peel off after a couple hours but they will still be too flexible and will stretch out if you try to take them off.

The next day, gently peel them off the bag one at a time. Make sure you do this before you do any of the steps on your own nails as it will be a pain to do it after! You can save the bag to use for another set of nail decals so you don't have to trace your fingernails again!

Prep your nails as usual, including base coat. Then paint a quick coat of nail polish that is the same as the main base colour of your decals - for this one I used white. Let it dry for about thirty seconds to a minute so it's a little tacky, then lay your decal down on the nail, and roll another finger over it in gentle, even motions to smooth it down - make sure the edges especially are stuck down well. Use your manicure scissors to trim the excess off the ends of your nails, and then cover with top coat - make sure to wrap the tips! You're done!

Here's another look at how it looks!


  1. Wow, this is super good idea! Thanks.

  2. omg honey this is genius!!! LOVE this post!!! it's bookmarked for the future when I do my mozaik nail art :))

  3. Great tutorial and nice blog, now following.

  4. Omg! This is awesome! I can't wait to try this out. Thanks so much!


  5. Wow im in luv , thanks for the tutorial im bout to try this Right now on me and my daughter


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