Watermarble Nails

Woohoo – first blog post! And it’s a goodie…watermarble!

1. right hand finger

(dull Scottish daylight)

I’ve stared in awe at pictures of watermarble nails in the past and always wondered how they were so perfectly painted not once considering water could be used in nail art. I was feeling confident last week so I searched YouTube and found a fantastic short watermarble tutorial by cutepolish – you can find it here.

Let me get it out there right now; I have no idea what I’m doing, I am brand spanking new to even having nails to play with so I’m a perfect example to show that anyone can master these techniques as long as you have patience.

You’ll need:

  • A container large enough to comfortably dip a finger in – I’ve found plastic works best for me.
  • Water – room temperature, preferably filtered however mine was just regular Scottish tap water.
  • Nail polish – at least two colours, I used Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Key Lime, Satsuma and Guava.
  • Tape – I used microporous: the papery kind, not the easy tear.
  • Cotton pads or kitchen paper.
  • Orange sticks.
  • A pin or needle.
  • Nail polish remover.

I knew this was going to take a few attempts at least so I decided to make up some little false nail finger sticks to practise with:

1. nail stick

I made these by pressing an orange stick against the back of a false nail and using microporous tape to secure it.

TIP: It’s important to have all of your equipment set out neatly in front of you with everything within easy reach – I do a sort-of run-through before I start any nail art technique to make sure that everything is exactly where I need it to be.

1. set up

Fill your container with room temperature water.

I had a few dud attempts at the start. You’ll know that your water is not at the correct temperature because the nail polish will just refuse to co-operate. It’s just right when the polish settles in a clean, unbroken ring and the subsequent drops of polish settle happily outwards toward the edges of each other.

TIP: You may need to refresh your water after using it a few times – some sneaky wee invisible bits of polish can remain in the water after clean up and ruin a nail later on. I refilled mine after completing my first hand.

Basecoat and white-out.

Logic says it’s important to get a white base on if you want vibrant colours with a watermarble as the polish surely thins as it spreads – although I haven’t tried it without yet. My imagined conclusion is quite pretty…

Tape up polish-free surfaces.

Very important. Unless you want to spend ages attempting to clean polish off your fingers and inevitably wrecking your pretty new watermarble manicure.

You want two strips of tape for each finger – one across the base of your nail, close to the cuticle but not so much that you’re exposing white base and the other wrapped up from one side of the nail, round the fingertip and down the other side. Press the tape down firmly around the edges and onto the skin.

1. taping

(Click here to find out about my Super Easy Clean Up Secret Weapon in a later post!)

Quickly and carefully make a bullseye with your polishes.

Tap one drop of nail polish off of the end of the brush onto the surface of the water. You want to do this quite close to the water surface but not so close that the brush touches it. Add as many layers, in as many colours as you like to the bullseye but remember that if you’re not quick, the outer polish rings will dry up and when you move to the next stage – drawing your design – the polish will just cling to the pin and you’ll end up with a sticky mess.

TIP: Before you start, shake your polishes well and loosen all of the lids so that you can grab and go quickly with the drops.

Quickly and carefully draw your design.

This bit can be tricky. I found that it’s safer to stay away from the first two rings of polish that you create. Very carefully draw the pin or needle across the surface of the nail polish – don’t dip the pin right through into the water or you may end up with a clumpy blob stuck it that refuses to let go and ruins the design.

TIP: If your bullseye moves around too much as you try to draw your design try to gently anchor it by using the pin to pull an outer edge to the rim of your container. Be careful to do this very slowly and gently or your design will stick to the pin and clump up.

Dip nail and clean up surface.

Choose an area of your marble that you really like and take some time to ensure that your nail is positioned well above it. When you are happy with your chosen design, slowly but decisively dip your nail at around a 45degree angle straight through into the water below. Don’t lift your finger out of the water yet!! Grab an orange stick and making sure not to catch your polished nail, dip it into the water using a twirling motion to catch any loose polish that remains attached to the design.

TIP: Think about where you are pulling at the design when twirling it away on the stick – try to pull backwards and away from the nail to avoid smudging and polish clogging under the water.

1. 1st false

(standard halogen home spotlight)

Lift nail out, remove tape and allow to dry fully.

Next time I try this technique I think I might wait until the nails are dry before removing the tape as I pulled a couple of edges away when I done this when wet – what do you think? Have you tried watermarbling and had the same problem?

I struggle to have patience when drying my nails but I knew better than to risk touching these too early. I waited a good fifteen minutes.

Tidy up.

When you remove the tape, it’s likely you’ll have a few messy bits of polish on your skin. Using a small brush and some nail polish remover, carefully brush away any untidy polish.

TIP: Invest in a nail art corrector pen! They’re fantastic for tidying around the cuticle area as they tend to be firmer and I find them steadier to use for a clean line than a brush dipped in remover. Mine is Barry M’s Nail Art Corrector Pen and it only cost me £4.99 in Superdrug.


My favourite right now is Sally Hansen Insta-Dri topcoat – it’s super fast drying and really shiny! I love it’s staying power, it protects my manicures from chips and peeling for seven days (and that week includes working full time in a pharmacy dispensary too – with all sorts of nail nasties like removing staples and popping out pills a standard daily requirement).

I added a coat of my absolute favourite holographic topcoat made by the fabulous UK based indie polish maker Tara’s Talons.

1. holo

It really helped to hide and blend the little edges where I had caught the wet polish and exposed white base – and it’s delightful to look at too! Tara’s not currently selling her amazing polish creations – but keep your eye’s peeled she’ll hopefully be back at it again soon!

There you have it. Watermarble manicure.

1. left hand finger (dull Scottish daylight)

1. full right hand

(dull Scottish daylight)

Questions and comments are welcome!