How-To: Water Marbling Nail Technique

I’ve seen this tutorial here and there, and have wanted to do it. Lots of them have bitched about it being a huge pain in the butt. And I will agree to some extent. It takes a little time and persistence, and if you are extremely picky it will take even longer. I’m fine with some randomness.

Two tricks, both learned the hard way. First, cuticle oil on your fingers–anywhere that’s not nail that you’ll dip in the water. It will help with cleanup. Second, warm water. Cold water makes the polish congeal faster.

First, paint your nails with a light or contrasting color, to lay down a base. I just did one coat. It needs to be dry. Then you need a container of lukewarm water. Plastic is best, as you may ruin it. Then, 2-4 colors of nail polish.

I used all Zoya polishes; I almost would like to try this with OPI or other polishes, to see if you get better results. I used a purple theme: Zoya’s Mira, Arielle, and Marley. Marley was also my base color, as it’s the lightest of the 3.

I loaded up my brush so it was drippy, and dripped a couple of drops into the water.

Then I took the other two polishes and repeated the dripping. Hopefully your polish will float; if it sinks, you have to pick another color.

Now’s the part that it was too difficult for me to get a picture of while I was doing it. I took a toothpick and inserted it into the center of the polish and swirled it around to get the marbleized effect. I had a problem some of the time with the outer polish being congealed. Break through it and pull the polish that’s still flowing around. Then once you have it marbleized, dip your fingers into it, nail side down.

This is where the cuticle oil would have come in handy, but I didn’t do it, so you will notice the polish is ALL over my fingers. Also, some tutorials recommend doing one nail, cleaning up the polish scum, dumping the water, and then do it all over again. Forget that noise. I did as many fingers as I had polish for. You will likely have to skim the scum and dump water and start again a couple of times if you’re doing 2 or 3 nails at a time, which is what makes it a little tedious. I read a tutorial that said it took a TON of polish and had a lot of wastage. I didn’t find that to be true because I did multiple nails. I found it took no more polish than a normal manicure with two or three coats would take.

Once you’re finished, clean up and put a topcoat on. Voila!

In the interest of full disclosure, it didn’t ALL go so smooth.

My pinky is the result of polish that was no longer flowing. It ended up just being a string across my nail. It kind of looks good, but I’ll probably re-do it. I was out of polish and didn’t want to make more. So I went with the trendy “one finger different” thing.

All in all, I found it easy and love the results!

For a good tutorial, Refinery29 has a video here.

What do you think? Would you try this? Is there another design you’ve wanted to try that I can trial run?

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