I am super excited to do this post! Marble nails!! I had never done it before, so I watched a lot of tutorials on YouTube and cam up with a game plan. After getting one hand done I started experimenting with polishes, techniques and the water. So this blog post has the potential to be long, but I think I figured out a way for everyone to enjoy.
The main pictures are the basic instructions, but specifics will be written below each picutre/step. If you just want to see what I did, then you'll enjoy the pictures. However, if you're trying this out for yourself, then definitely read my thoughts for each step.
Get a container you don't care about and fill it with filtered, room temperature water. I got water from my Brita filter and let it sit out for an hour.
I later on experimented with different temperatures and non-filtered water. I found that the temperature. doesn't make a huge difference, but it is easier at room temp. However, I found that filtered water made a HUGE difference! The polish floated weirdly and wouldn't spread out nicely with tap water.
I set my water out and then took my time prepping my nails. I removed all previous polish, filed them and put on a base coat and then the white.
The white helps even the most sheer polishes really pop. It's a little annoying when peeks though the edges, but I don't think it's a step you can skip. Maybe a nude color could work instead; I didn't think of that until now.
I just taped one finger at a time. There's a fair amount of set up between each finger, especially if you're doing all different colors, and I needed free fingers.
Be precise with the tape! It's better to have a little bit of skin showing than to cover the white. You'll see in my final pictures that I messed that up a bit with this and it definitely shows.
This picture says it all: whichever colors you're using for the finger, have them open and ready. You need to be able to quickly switch between them so the polish in the water doesn't dry out too fast.
One tutorial I watched said to use new, high quality polishes. I did not find that this mattered at all. I used $1.99 polishes to $8.00 polishes and they all worked the same. Some of them were at least a year old and worked just fine as well. I think that if the polishes are goopy and sticky then they might not work.
Make sure the polish is spreading out nicely, if it's not then something is wrong with the water or polish. I didn't have any problems with this until I started experimenting. However, you need to work pretty quickly so the polishes don't dry. My first drop would usually crinkle up by the time I put my finger in, but the inner circles were just fine.
Use a toothpick to swirl the colors together, creating the marbled effect. I didn't have toothpicks so I cut cutips in half and used the stick end to swirl. I think any thin stick-like object would work. Polish does get all over it, so either be prepared to clean it or use something disposable.
Try to not let too much water in, this ruins the design and will come out as a blank spot on your nail. If the colors are not swirling easily then they're drying out. Just let the toothpick pick up that polish and try again, this time going faster.
Line your nail up with the part of the design you want to keep and drop your finger in here. Tutorials I watched said to make sure you dropped your nail in flat, but I did not find this to be super important. I put my finger in as even as I could get it, but the tape and the angle I was at kept me from going in totally flat - and it turned out just fine.
Let your finger sit in the water for around 10 seconds to make sure the polish dries.
Keeping your finger in the water, swirl your toothpick around to pick up the remaining polish. You'll notice some tiny pieces will stay behind; this isn't a problem unless it inhibits the polish being dripped from spreading. I had to change my water for the last couple of nails.
Now pull out your finger and remove the tape! You have a marbled nail! I finished off with a clear top coat after my fingers had dried off (from the water).
The next couple of pictures are some of the funny problems I had with polish...
A couple of my polishes would make these funny bubbles. Try to avoid them when dipping in your finger, you'll see on my final nails they do show up if you dip on top of them.
Sparkles can work, but they're tricky. They dry really fast so you need to drip in polish really fast. Also, no polish color shoes up, only the sparkles. I got one finger to work, but it took quite a few tries. Finally, your sparkle polish needs to be liquidy, not chunky. If it can't drip off the brush, it won't work.
I do want to specify that polish with a shimmer or sheen to it is not a problem at all. The actual chunks or sparkle specks are the issue.
I also tried crackle polish... total fail. The polish just sperated funky and then kind of crackled on the water.
These are my final nails. I made sure to point out the sparkley nail and the little problem bubble.
I like the brighter colors better, I think my thumb on the right just isn't as fun. The whole process took a couple of hours - however, it was my first time, I wanted to go slow and make sure I did each finger correctly and I had to photograph it all. My first hand (which I did not photograph) took at least half the time.
Good luck to you if you try it! Let me know if you have any remaining questions!