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Nails DIY: How to Create Marbled Nails

Updated on July 9, 2014
hellovictoria profile image

Tori is a 25 year old DIYer living in Northern Atlanta with her boyfriend and two cat babies. She loves crafting & experimenting with color.

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Marbled nails look really cool, but they are definitely an intimidating look to pull off. I used to always see these nails all over the internet and wonder how on earth people did it. It seriously looks like they took a sticker and put it on their nails (which, apparently, is a thing now).

I learned how to do this from a post on Tumblr. The post in question was just a group of images without any text showing you what to do to create the look. I looked at it and thought, "OK! That's easy enough!" Unfortunately, the graphic tutorial didn't contain any tips and tricks that are useful when trying to do this, and also wasn't very complete in the steps, either. After several tries I finally eventually got the look I was going for. Even though some of my nails looked really janky, I was happy with it for the time being. But I did want to get better at it!

I began doing the marbled look more regularly, and have discovered some tips and tricks to accomplish this method of nail art in the cleanest, easiest way possible. Here is an easy DIY guide for creating that marbled look at home!

here are some of the supplies you will need - LOTS of toothpicks and Q-Tips, your favorite nailpolish, and tape.
here are some of the supplies you will need - LOTS of toothpicks and Q-Tips, your favorite nailpolish, and tape. | Source

Gather Everything You Will Need

This nail art is simple if you are equipped with the right supplies to get the job done the right way. You will need:

- a small cup that you don't care about. It must be at least an inch deep. I used a quarter measuring cup.

- room temperature water. It is absolutely imperative that this water is room temperature, and not cold or warm to the touch.

- Q-Tips (for touchups!)

- wooden toothpicks

- The polish colors you would like to use. I generally use white or a light pastel color as the base color, then pick two other colors to mix with for the marbled look.

- A paper towel

- Nail Polish remover

- Masking tape or Scotch tape (I prefer blue painters tape or masking tape).

Important Tips Before You Start

The cup you choose should not have a large surface area for the water. The smaller the cup, the better - so long as it is at least an inch deep. If you have a big surface area for the water in the cup, the nail polish will spread too much and you will end up wasting a lot of it! I've used the little disposable sauce cups from restaurant - those are great for this type of project!

The water in your cup CANNOT be too hot or too cold. The temperature of the water will either cause the polish to dry too quickly, or it will cause it not to separate properly. for this reason it is very important to ensure that the water does not feel hot or cold to your touch.

It is very important that your polishes are new or like-new, and cannot be the instant-dry nail polish. Firstly, the polishes must be new or like-new because older polishes tend to be more dried out than when you first purchase them, which affects their ability to spread in the water. Instant dry nail polishes also have the same issue - because they dry so quickly, they will not spread on the surface of the water but will clump and sink. You can test your nailpolish to see if it will work for this project by dropping a small bit of it into the water. If the nail polish stays in a clump or sinks to the bottom, it is too old and cannot be used for this project. If it stays on the surface of the water and spreads out across the top without clumping or sinking, it is perfect to use.

The nail polish remover is easiest to deal with when you pour it in the cap. The nail polish remover will come in handy when you are cleaning up the nails and the nail beds after each coat of polish. Since you are working on details and will be using Q-Tips for this, it is very convenient to pour a little nail polish remover into the cap for easier access.

Switch your water out if you notice it is getting really dirty. The water will become dirty from all of the nail polish you are dropping into it. If you start having issues getting your nail polish to spread, you will need to switch the water out. I can usually get one hand done before I have to switch it out.

Step 1: Paint your Base Coat and Color.

Paint the base coat as smoothly as possible. Use Q-Tips and nailpolish remover to touch up around the cuticles. Make sure to let this dry COMPLETELY before doing the next step!
Paint the base coat as smoothly as possible. Use Q-Tips and nailpolish remover to touch up around the cuticles. Make sure to let this dry COMPLETELY before doing the next step! | Source

2. Tape your nail all around so that as little of your skin is visible as possible.

Try to surround your nail as well as possible, and extend the tape up to about your knuckle.
Try to surround your nail as well as possible, and extend the tape up to about your knuckle. | Source

3. QUICKLY drop the nail colors into the water, alternating colors however you want.

I will usually start with the base color (white), then drop the other colors on top of each other. Do this step quickly to prevent the polish from drying too quickly.
I will usually start with the base color (white), then drop the other colors on top of each other. Do this step quickly to prevent the polish from drying too quickly. | Source

4. Swirl the colors together lightly with a tooth pick.

Swirl them together to your desired design. Do this quickly! If you mess up, blow on the top of the water until the nail polish dries. Then, sweep it up with the Q-Tip and start again.
Swirl them together to your desired design. Do this quickly! If you mess up, blow on the top of the water until the nail polish dries. Then, sweep it up with the Q-Tip and start again. | Source

5. Identify the pattern that you would like to show on your nail. Strategically place your nail over the design you want. Carefully dip your nail in the water.

As you can see, I have swirled the nail polish around as I like, and have picked a spot to dip my nail in.
As you can see, I have swirled the nail polish around as I like, and have picked a spot to dip my nail in. | Source
Here, I have dipped my nail into the polish and am holding it in the water. This allows time for the design to bond to my nail. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T LIFT YOUR NAIL BACK OUT OF THE WATER AT THIS POINT.
Here, I have dipped my nail into the polish and am holding it in the water. This allows time for the design to bond to my nail. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T LIFT YOUR NAIL BACK OUT OF THE WATER AT THIS POINT. | Source

6. Lightly blow on the top of the water while keeping your finger submerged. Take a toothpick and pick up the dried nail polish from the water.

Make sure all of the excess nail polish is taken up from the water before pulling your nail out!
Make sure all of the excess nail polish is taken up from the water before pulling your nail out! | Source

7. Take your nail out of the water. Let dry for a minute or two. Peel back the tape, and use a Q-Tip to clean up any polish that may have gotten on your skin.

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Clean up the edges with a Q-Tip and nail polish remover.
Clean up the edges with a Q-Tip and nail polish remover. | Source

The Finished Product

here's what my nails looked like after I completed the marbling on each finger!
here's what my nails looked like after I completed the marbling on each finger! | Source

*Note* This is what happens if you do the nail polish without the tape.

Doing this project without the tape will make it a little harder to clean up. I highly recommend doing this with the tape for that reason and also because darker nail polishes will stain your skin and be more difficult to clean up.
Doing this project without the tape will make it a little harder to clean up. I highly recommend doing this with the tape for that reason and also because darker nail polishes will stain your skin and be more difficult to clean up. | Source

You Are Done!

Now you know how to create the Marbled look on your nails. The marbled nail looks really cool as an accent nail as well. I will paint my nails all one color that I use in the marble and then do the marble only on my ring fingers and it looks really good!

This nail art is super easy and really cool looking when you are done! Don't worry if you don't get it right the first time - you can always take the polish off and try again!

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About the Author

Victoria is a 23 year old obsessive DIYer, living in the beautiful city of Charlotte, North Carolina with her two cat babies, Oliver and Zeus. She loves the outdoors, writing, and swimming. A year and a half ago she started an addiction by taking a Scuba diving class through Scuba Schools International, and now she can't get enough of it and has obtained her advanced certification, with more classes to follow. She is also am very interested in home d├ęcor and love to experiment with color. Another huge area of interest is gluten free cooking.

Check out some of Victoria's other hubs:

How To Take Care of Long Hair and Keep The Split Ends Away

The Complete Guide to Refinishing a Coffee Table (Especially if You're A Beginner)

Three Organizational Solutions You Can Personalize on the Cheap

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    • hellovictoria profile image
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      ToriM 3 years ago from Atlanta

      Hi Deborah, Thank you very much! I hope you find it useful - and I hope your nails turn out great :)

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      Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

      Great hub. I'm going to try this, thank you for sharing this information