Nail Klub: Megan’s Marvelous Marbled Nail Tutorial

A few months ago, Support Analyst Megan debuted her first attempt at marbled nails. Her nails’ psychedelic swirls had the office swooning — especially her pals in the ModCloth Nail Klub. Since then, Megan’s become an expert in this colorful technique, and graciously shared her skills for the Nail Klub’s first beauty tutorial! 

MATERIALS
A cup of room temperature water
At least 2 nail polish colors (thin polish works best)
1 clear or white base coat
Tape (we used packing tape since its extra sticky)
Toothpicks
Cotton swabs
Nail polish remover

1. Apply a base coat to your nails. Once it’s dry, use tape to mask off your nails. Wrap the tape around the back of your finger too, to protect it from polish.

2. Unscrew the lids of your polishes so that they’re easy to access. Drop a bead of the first polish into the center of the water. Remember, we want room temperature water! If the water is too cold, your polish drop will sink to the bottom instead of spreading across the surface of the water. Then, as the first bead spreads out, add a drop of the second polish color. Keep adding as many drops as you like, but remember that polish dries quickly — do this step as fast as possible!

3. Use a toothpick to swirl the colors together.

4. Find your favorite part of the swirled polish, and dip your taped-off nail against it and into the water.

5. Holding your nail in the water, lightly blow on the rest of the floating polish. Then, twirl your toothpick in the water to gather and remove the extra polish from the cup.

6. Take your finger out of the cup, and carefully remove the tape around your nail. Use your cotton swab and polish remover to clean up any excess polish.

Will you be trying this nail art idea? What trends or techniques would you love to see the Nail Klub try next?

anna

About Anna

Anna's the kind of don't-take-yourself-too-seriously gal who can spend an evening at Monday Night Raw and then turn around and write about nail designs and glitter with just as much sincere, unadulterated delight. She's a firm believer in cats' ability to see ghosts, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the fact that if she wishes enough, she'll never have to iron again.

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41 Responses to Nail Klub: Megan’s Marvelous Marbled Nail Tutorial

  1. anchors and dreams 01/25/2012 at 12:02 pm #

    I’m totally about to try this! Wish me luck! :)

    http://anchorsanddreams.wordpress.com

  2. Corrie Kartchner 01/25/2012 at 12:12 pm #

    Seems like a complicated process for doing your own nails.

    • Amber Russell 01/26/2012 at 5:41 am #

      Agreed

    • Amanda 03/14/2012 at 1:00 pm #

      I actually think it’s brilliant and simple- something that would be a great activity at a children’s birthday party (with supervision and guidance).

    • Laura 04/26/2012 at 8:26 am #

      I did this last night, it turned out amazing. It was actually quite simple, the most time consuming process was taping my fingers.

  3. Megan Beverlin Moss 01/25/2012 at 12:46 pm #

    This just made me do a happy dance and then run get all of the ‘supplies’ to attempt!

  4. Amanda 01/25/2012 at 12:50 pm #

    I am going to attempt this wonderful idea this weekend. I am just trying to decide which colors to use. Does it matter how old the nail polish may be?

    • Anna (ModCloth) 01/25/2012 at 1:29 pm #

      As long as the polish is still relatively runny, it should be fine. If your polish is getting a smidge thick, try mixing a teensy-weensy drop of nail polish remover into it, just to thin it out. Have fun, Amanda, and let us know how your marble mani turns out!

    • Like a bosssss!!! 02/07/2012 at 7:36 pm #

      Ya it has 2 b thin

    • Lisa 09/17/2012 at 4:29 am #

      This is a great idea!!!! However, if you put polish remover in your polish, it will turn a cloudy muck. Sally’s Beauty Supply carries polish thinner for a couple of bucks and your polish is usable until it’s gone! It’s a beautiful thing! Happy Polishing!

  5. Sarah 01/25/2012 at 1:21 pm #

    I think this is great! It might take a few trys to perfect, but why not! Once winter actually joins us here in RI, I will be playing with this idea on my work snow days. Thanks Nail Klub!

  6. Marne (ModCloth) 01/25/2012 at 2:56 pm #

    I’ll admit, this is a bit time-consuming, but a rewarding way to spend an hour or two instead of staring at the internet which I am so inclined to do in my free time.
    Plus, you get the admiration of just about anyone who sees your hands for the next week or so! I always feel so special when people fawn over my nail art.
    Totally worth it! :)

    • Pamada 01/25/2012 at 4:17 pm #

      this is one of my favorite nail techniques! if you’re pressed on time you can always do a dry water marble so you can spread it out over a couple of days (also minimizes the huge potential mess if you forget to tape a finger :X)

      <3

  7. Color Me Blue 01/25/2012 at 4:30 pm #

    This is AWESOME. Totally trying this on my blog soon! I’ll be sure to link back :)

    xo
    Amanda
    http://www.colormebluefashion.com

  8. Ilana 01/25/2012 at 5:09 pm #

    omg this is amazing thanks for sharing !

    XX Ilana

    http://www.mymodernvintage.com

  9. Kara 01/25/2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Okay…I’ve read this three times and still have a potentially silly question…cause there seems to be a step missing. Firstly, when you tape your finger, are you covering your nail? (in other words, are you making a nail sticker?) or are you wrapping the tape around everywhere BUT your nail? From the pix, it looks as thought the finger is completely wrapped in tape. So, at Step 6 when you say “carefully remove the tape around your nail”, I’m guessing you have to use cuticle scissors to cut it (cause if you peel off the tape, it seems the lovely swirls come with it). Are there any tips for this? Or am I seriously missing a step! I’d love to try this cause it looks amazing.

    • Megan (ModCloth) 01/25/2012 at 8:08 pm #

      No worries! I’ve got some answers for you…When masking off your nails, the goal is to cover any part of your finger that you DON’T want covered in polish. Think of masking off your nails as laying down a drop cloth of sorts; like you would when you paint the walls of your house. The polish will still stick to those areas, but onto the tape instead of your skin. Removing the tape will take with it any paint that stuck to the tape instead of to your nail:>

    • Samantha 01/25/2012 at 11:42 pm #

      I completely agree, I didn’t quite grasp what “masking the nail” was supposed to mean, so I’m guessing you just surround it with carefully cut tape.

    • Anna (ModCloth) 01/26/2012 at 7:21 am #

      Ladies, you are totally spot on – sorry if that was confusing! You want to tape off the area surrounding your nail, but not the nail itself. This step helps make polish cleanup a little easier. I was a little worried the polish would come off with the tape too, but if you peel or cut off the tape right after your nail comes out of the water, it comes off really easily and doesn’t pull at the polish on your nail. Just be precise when masking off your nail, and you’ll be set! Good question, Kara!

  10. Stephanie 01/25/2012 at 8:12 pm #

    Kara- you dont tape the nail, just around it.

    This is a process i do regularly, I prefer rubbing vaseline on my fingers, there is more to take off but its not as awkward trying to get things done with tape over your fingertips and easy to take off, I also usually hire my sister to clean the polish off my fingers. Make sure polish is really dry before the clear coat so it doesnt smear the swirls.

  11. Judith 01/25/2012 at 11:42 pm #

    I’m really excited to try this, especially because it doesn’t really require any handiness. Whenever I do nail art, it comes out great on my left hand (I’m right handed) and the nails on my right hand turn out to be a bit of a mess. With this technique I can probably get great looking nails on both hands :D

  12. Megan 01/26/2012 at 6:44 am #

    I have been trying marbled nails for years with painting a base coat, and using safety pins to swirl drops oh nail polish I put on my nails. This looks like it would have a much better final results. I am excited to try this one day soon.

  13. B.Weber 01/26/2012 at 8:11 pm #

    This is pretty amazing. I love how the colors turn out.

    HauteStandards

  14. Tonya 01/27/2012 at 12:57 pm #

    Whaaaaa!? This is so cool. Definitely going to try this soon! Maybe it will help me resist biting my nails since they will look so pretty :)

  15. Sydney 01/27/2012 at 2:07 pm #

    I just attempted this, and the results were…..um, embarrassingly bad. I don’t know what I did wrong, but the nail polish wouldn’t swirl together nicely. Then, when I dipped my nail in, the polish kind of globbed up all over it and looked terrible. In addition, even though I used tape I ended up with nail polish all over my fingers somehow, and I had to use a LOT of nail polish remover to get it off (now my fingers are really sore from all the rubbing -_-). Also, I absentmindedly grabbed a non-disposable cup instead of a cheap plastic one, and now it has nail polish all over the inside. I think I might have to throw it out because no amount of scrubbing seems to be doing anything for it.

    In conclusion, I suck at this. Hopefully everyone else has better results!!!!

    • Miss Sara 01/30/2012 at 5:55 pm #

      I had the same problem. It got ALL over my hands. And I mean everywhere. I scrubbed for nearly 30 minutes!

  16. GlamB0t 01/28/2012 at 12:03 pm #

    I just tried this you can read the full post about it over atglamb0t.com.

    Overall, it was a process but worth it if you’re using one color or for a special occasion. I can’t wait to try this with red/white for the Holidays! I used a beige base with blue, red, pink, and green swirls to go with my Bloom Bayou Dress. Thanks ModCloth!!

  17. Angela 01/29/2012 at 4:54 pm #

    I’m trying this now. but the nail polish dries SO fast in the water that i dont have time to swirl the colors. I’m only using two colors and i feel like i’m dripping them pretty quick. I even tried dripping them at the same time. But again, it dries to soon and i cant swirl. Is there a trick to making the polish easier to swirl?? thanks!

  18. Jenn 02/02/2012 at 7:27 pm #

    I just tried this and it works better if you dont use the outside colour…so drop the first one in and then when you swirl ONLY touch the inside ones. the outside one dries the fastest and if you touch it, it will grab all the other stuff with it. also, don’t use thick nail polish because it won’t spread out at all. the runnier, the better.

  19. Melissakc1a 02/15/2012 at 7:31 am #

    I’ve done many water marbles, and it does take some practice. One of the main keys is choosing the right polish. Cremes make much better water marbles than anything with a shimmer or glitter. I find that the cheap drugstore brands work better than salon brands, plus you don’t want to waste all the polish and $$.

    If you’re having trouble with the polish drying too fast, you may be in a too well ventilated room, or you’re doing too many drops. Jenn was right about leaving the outside ring alone and just swirling with the inside ones. Also, make sure you’re only using the very tip of the toothpick/orangestick and clean it constantly. Polish build up on the end will not result in a crisp design. If you’re getting a globby mess, you’re dipping your too slow or too fast, or it could be that your nail isn’t hitting the water evenly.

    It is a time consuming process, but the end result is well worth it, and when you get lots of compliments, and “how did you do that”‘s you’ll be doing it again. Believe me.

    This tutorial is great, love the color choices, (which sadly you do not list) but I learned better by video. If you search “SimpleLittlePleasures” on YouTube, you will get many great videos from Colette who has some great video tutorials on water marbling. She is the guru of water marbling.

  20. Tegan Rodgers 03/07/2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Love the nails- but I’m more interested in knowing where literally every single one of these rings are from?! I LOVE the one on the ring finger (wedding band, perhaps) in the first image on the hand with the blue polish. That is literally the most beautiful piece of jewellery I have ever seen! If it’s not a custom piece, I’d love to know where it’s from? I is so beautiful, I can’t stop staring at it!

  21. breeconant 03/11/2012 at 2:17 pm #

    Takes a really long time, and a lot of effort! Seems to look cool, though! :)

  22. Beech 03/13/2012 at 10:57 pm #

    I just tried this and after a couple of mess-ups, I got it! Like the commenters said, at first it made a HUGE mess. But I discovered these things made it easier:

    - Tape up and paint one nail at a time. When I had multiple nails taped, I generally sucked at the process. It took more time but it was worth it.
    - Don’t use the first color you drop. It will separate and cover the entire surface of the water. Leave it alone!
    - Don’t start swirling at an edge. Always start swirling from the middle, and don’t swirl into the first color you dropped.
    - When they say move quickly to drop the polish, swirl, and dip, they mean MOVE QUICKLY. It should take no more than a minute to do this process. I was able to do it in about 40 minutes.
    - After you do one nail, use the toothpick to get all the polish off the surface of the water.
    - For each nail, one drop of each color of polish will do.
    - If the polish doesn’t just drop off the brush in a couple seconds, it’s too thick.
    - Don’t use “quick dry” polish unless you’re really daring. Sometimes it works but usually it sucks.
    - Give yourself a lot of time to do this. It took me about an hour.

    I do think that the process wasn’t explained well enough, and I wish the brands of polish used were referenced. I used Cover Girl’s Boundless Color, Pure Ice, Revlon, and Markwins. They were the only polishes I had that were thin enough. But I hope this helps anyone who’s afraid to try it based on the comments, or tried it and made nothing but a big mess. :)

    • Beech 03/13/2012 at 11:00 pm #

      Sorry, I meant I was able to drop and swirl nail polish and dip each nail in about forty seconds, not forty minutes, lol.

  23. JEANNETTE SIERRA 04/26/2012 at 9:18 pm #

    Am so trying this on my daughter such a cool idea thanks..

  24. Maria 05/04/2012 at 11:29 am #

    Im Excited To Try This.<3

  25. Dallas 05/15/2012 at 8:23 am #

    Thanks this helps alot. lol ithink ill try it on my grandma first.

  26. shaun 06/25/2012 at 7:42 pm #

    I am so glad other people were able to post about the taping process because the original blogger was not clear. I can’t wait to try this!!

  27. McKinlay 05/05/2013 at 3:45 pm #

    I have a couple tricks for you ladies! First, I use distilled water and that works great. Second, use vaseline instead of tape!!!!! It is so much easier. You just rub vaseline all around your finger nail where it is going to be touched by the polish in the water. Then after you have dipped that finger you just wipe your finger off with a paper towel and it just comes right off. Third, we have found that the less expensive nail polishes work so much better because the spread out easier. More expensive nail polish often times sinks to the bottom of the cup. Sally Hansen nail polish has been very successful for us. Fourth, when you swirl the colors together with a tooth pick, I just drag the toothpick through a couple times if you know what Im saying. Fifth(and my last tip), when you pick your three colors, choose the one that is going to turn out the thinest when is spreads out and paint a base coat of that color onto your nails. For example, if you are going to use a light pink, white, and dark blue, I would paint the light pink onto my nails before. You might think that you should use white but the light pink is turns out to be more transparent. In my opinion having a base coat on makes them look so much cuter!! Sorry if I confused you! Just thought I’d try to make this process a little easier for some of you!!:)

  28. McKinlay 05/05/2013 at 3:48 pm #

    One more thing:) Haha because my last one wasn’t long enough!! If you use three colors that you don’t originally think will look cute together, they will!! When you don’t use “match-matchy” colors they each stand out more and it just looks super cool!! Give it a go!!!:)

  29. Shannon 07/02/2013 at 7:45 am #

    you can also use petroleum jelly (vaseline) instead of the tape :)

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