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DIY Color-Block Nail Decals


October 14, 2012 by Emily

Color Blocked nails are easily my favorite manicure look… it’s bold, graphic and not too girly or precious for my tastes. The problem with color blocking is that the edges need to be sharp and perfect to get the right effect, and I have notoriously shaky hands (have you tried painting straight lines on your nails with your non-dominate hand?! what a mess).

This is where nail decals come in…sheets of semi-tacky nail polish that can be peeled off a backing, cut and then placed on your nails to create perfectly crisp designs. Any nail polish loving girl has seen the packets of peel-and-stick nail decals at the drugstore… but they are EXPENSIVE ($10 for peel-and-stick nail polish?! No thanks) and I’m not always in love with the colors they have to offer.

What’s a manicure-loving, budget-minded DIY-er to do? Make your own of course! 

What To Do:

1- You’ll need a plastic bag, a nail file, scissors and your nail polishes. I have a base color, decal color and a top coat. Brands don’t really matter here, I’ve used this technique with dollar store nail polish and fancy department store nail polish and it works every time.

2- Paint the polish you picked to be the decal onto the plastic bag. I make small “nail sized” swatches because they dry more evenly and are easier to peel up later. Apply 2-3 coats in alternating directions, allowing the polish to dry for 10 minutes between each coat (I put a paper towel or white napkin inside the bag so I can see if the paint is too thin in areas). Once all the layers are painted allow the swatches to dry for at least an hour.

3- Use the time while your swatches are drying to file and polish your nails with the base coat and allow them to dry completely.

4- After an hour or so your paint swatches will by dry enough to peel off the bag, use your scissors to cut the sheets of polish into any shape you like! Be careful not to fold the swatches once they’re off the bag, it will stick together and end up a frustrating blob of dried polish you cant use.

5- Place the decal onto your dried nail, you’ll be able to move it a little to get it into the perfect position. Lightly rub the decal onto your nail so it bends to the curve, If theres any extra coming off the tips or edges use your file to bend the decal around the edge and file off the excess.

6- Top Coat time! You’re almost done…Top coat over the entire nail, making sure to put a bit of polish on the tip edge to seal the decals onto your nails!

Now your nails are ready to go! Not into the color block? No problem…. think about other shapes you can turn the decals into! I’ve never been able to make stripes before these decals!

Happy painting!


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