Monday, August 29, 2011

220: tutorial - water marbled nails

I wanted to start a new feature called "manicure monday" just because we tend to do our nails a lot! I'm gonna try to accompany most with a how-to but if it's just simple, I'll just do photos! COOL?? WELCOME TO MANICURE MONDAY~~

We're gonna start this feature with a pretty complex technique called "water marbling". I remember learning a similar technique in the 90's for colouring paper... but recently, I saw that our friend & past model, Rachel had tried it out & it looked really cute! It seems like a pretty long process & it does require both patience and a lot of time, but the result turns out unique.

This was our first time trying it & some nails were ugly & some looked awesome. So I'll preface this with telling you that it may require a bit of practice to achieve a nice look.

you'll need a bunch of nails polishes. 3 at minimum!
one for a base coat (we used the peach) and the others for the marbling.

tools you'll need:
- room temperature bottled water (apparently it works better than tap water)
- a cup or bowl that is disposable (the nail polish will ruin it)
- toothpicks
- nail polish remover
- cotton balls/makeup remover pads/q-tips for cleanup

first, base coat your nails with a light colour. then set up your work area!
fill the glass with the water (i'm using a disposable shot glass), put down the paper towel in case you spill and have all your nail polishes open so you can access them quickly.

Now taking a generous brush full of polish, drop a drop (ummm) on the surface of the water. I found that I really had to load up the brushes by tipping my bottles to the side. You'll instantly see the polish disperse across the surface.

Working quickly, grab another colour and drop it in the center of the first colour. It will spread as well...

Then quickly drop another colour in (or if you're only using two colours, you can just alternate)

Continue dropping as many colours as you would like, I typically did about 5 or 6 drops.

Then grab your toothpick & begin dragging the tip through the surface of the nail polish, pulling the design.

these are some designs I was able to create by just dragging the polish across to a single point.

Now take one of your fingers & dip it in at an angle.
Make sure to hold your fingernail UNDER the surface of the water. JUST HOLD IT THERE.

You'll notice that there's a bunch of nail polish still surrounding your finger.
You have to take a toothpick & pick up the rest of that nailpolish so that your finger doesn't end up looking double-dipped. get it? :)
take what's left on your toothpick & just wipe it on the papertowel.

Now when you pull your finger out, your nail is marbled!
but so is your finger... a lot of people like to tape their fingers to avoid that, but I didn't want to waste tape :(

I'm debating whether using tape or nail polish remover is less wasteful though!

So continue the process with all of your nails!

It's a ridiculous mess on your fingers, but a quick cleanup with nail polish remover is easy!

Then just topcoat!

At first, I was a bit discouraged because the first few nails were kinda ugly. It's quite a bit of work for an okayyyyy result and it wastes quite a bit of product too, but I'll give it another try with some different colours before I say that it's more trouble than it's worth.

Have you tried water marbling yet?


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  1. This is really sweet! I love the swirls a lot.

  2. I've done this before. I thought I got the idea from y'all but I guess not. I came to the same conclusion, that it's a lot of work for a mediocre result, and I found I really only had two polishes that weren't super transparent with this technique. I find nail polish on my fingernails never lasts long, so I usually only paint my toenails... Have you tried it on your toenails? It's pretty much impossible haha

  3. Wow, I love it! They look so unique!

  4. haha, i saw this idea the other day and wanted to try it. My first thought was that it will waste alot of the nail polish product but the overall look is different =) Im getting so into nail polish designs too now =P

  5. ooh! i just watched a youtube video on how to do this a couple of days ago. it's here, if you wanna see it. she taped her nails in the vid and it looks a lot cleaner ;)

  6. Whenever I do marble nails I put vaseline all over my fingers around my nails and it makes the polish come off a lot easier for me.

    1. It definitely keeps the polish off the fingers! Cuticle oil or clear diaper rash ointment works too!

  7. Oh, this is so damn cute! I can't wait to try this.

  8. Just wanted to drop in and say Hi! I love your blog.. you both are soo creative and talented. I love your DIY projects and can't wait to try them out for myself! Keep up the fantastic work!! 

    - Pang 

    ps. I tried this technique out and although it was really messy, it turned out to be really pretty !

  9. Really creative idea ! Inspiration nonetheless <3


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