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How To Use & Apply Crackle Nail Polish: The Best Tips, Reviews & Brands For Shattered Nails

Updated on September 18, 2014

Crackle & Shatter Nail Polish Tips: So Many Ideas!

Crackle nail polish, also called shatter nail polish, is one of the most interesting manicure products invented yet. It can turn a ho-hum nail job into a unique and eye-catching manicure, and allows you to get the most mileage out of your nail polish collection.
If you’re wondering how to use and apply crackle nail polish, join the club. It takes very specific steps to work properly, and I’ll show you those here. There are also a few tips that will give you even more ideas on how to can use this unique polish to your advantage.


How Does Crackle Or Shatter Nail Polish Work?

Crackle polish is meant to be used overtop of regular nail polish. It must be applied over another color, not on your bare nails, in order to work. Crackle/shatter polish works differently from regular polish in the way it cures. Normal polish is designed with solvents that slowly evaporate, allowing the product to dry evenly on the nail. Crackle polish is different; it contains ethanol, which is a fast-evaporating alcohol. This makes it dry very quickly, and as it does, it shrinks - that’s how you get the cracked, shattered finish.

China Glaze Set: Great Value & Plenty Of color Options!

Tips On How To Use & Apply Crackle Nail Polish

It is simple to apply crackle polish, but you must do it in a specific way. First, apply a good-quality base coat, then two coats of regular polish. Be sure to choose a color that will contrast highly with your crackle shade - more on that later.
It’s very important to wait until your polish is fully and completely dry before adding the crackle coat! I recommend waiting at least ten minutes, just to be on the safe side, before moving on.

When you’re sure your nails are dry, apply the shatter polish. A thin coat works best; it will dry to a subtle, crackly finish. A thicker coat can also work, and will result in a more chunky, more dramatic cracking. If the shatter polish is too thick, it may not crack at all. You’ll learn the perfect thickness by experimenting. In any case, over the next minute or so you can watch as the polish shatters and your undercoat shows through.
Finally, use a top coat! The crackle polish isn’t meant to be a top coat on its own; in fact, will flake off quite easily if it isn’t protected. To keep your manicure looking shattered, and to add shine, be sure to finish off with a quality top coat.

Great OPI Shatter Nail Tutorial

How To Do Crackle Nails: The Best Tips & Ideas

I love using shatter nail polish because it really opens up the possibilities in your nail polish collection. Those colors you bought last year but are now bored with? They suddenly get a whole new life with a crackle finish overtop.
These polishes are also a great idea for holidays and special occasions. Try a metallic crackle polish over a jewel tone for a festive look, or a black crackle polish over a neon undercoat for a night out dancing. You can also play with how you paint on the polish - try applying it in horizontal or diagonal swipes to change up the look. Or, use a gradient color underneath your shatter polish. The possibilities are endless!

For Your Wee Ones: Water-Based Crackle Polish Set For Kids

One essential tip when doing crackle nails is to make sure your main color contrasts nicely with your crackle coat. If you apply the shatter polish in red over a pink base coat, or a black crackle over a dark blue base, the effect is not going to be very noticeable. Make sure the colors pop before you apply them.
And my final tip about crackle nails is to make sure you buy a quality product. I have had great results with OPI and China Glaze shatter polishes, and they both offer a wide range of colors and finishes.

Crackle Nail Polish: A Fun Way To Liven Up Your Manicure In A Hurry!

The final plus to shatter nail polish, especially if you’re busy, is that it is very forgiving. I am often applying my manicures in a hurry, and I love using crackle nail polish overtop because it covers up any mistakes I make during application. I did have to experiment a bit before I mastered how to apply crackle nail polish, but now I know how versatile it can be, I am officially hooked! Try it - it’s fun and you won’t regret it.

Crackle Nail Poll

Which look do you prefer with crackle nail polish?

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    • manicuregirl profile image

      Sarah 20 months ago from Canada

      That's great to hear! :)

    • CherryBlossomTree profile image

      CherryBlossomTree 22 months ago

      Love the crackle nail polish! Have the black one and it´s great on top of bright colors.