Introduction: Tie-Dye Your Fingernails

Picture of Tie-Dye Your Fingernails

Is one, solid shade of nail polish just not doing it for you?
Problem solved.
Here is an easy and fun tutorial on how to marble your fingernails, or how to give them a tie-dyed feel.

Step 1: Materials

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1. Shallow container of water (I find that cool or room temperature works best)
2. Scotch tape (or any different preffered type of resist - such as rubber cement)
3. Paper towel (just to keep things from getting too messy)
4. A couple toothpicks
5. Needle
6. Nail polish
    - one color for a base coat
    - at least two more for the designs
7. Not pictured: clear coat of polish

Step 2: Paint a Base Coat

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Paint your nails with a base coat, just like you normally would. One layer is fine.
I chose pink for mine. :)

Step 3: Tape Your Finger

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Use the scotch tape to sort of seclude your fingernail. Put it on the skin all around your nail - this is so when we put the design on the nail, the paint does not get all over the rest of your finger.

Step 4: Start Putting Drops in the Water

Picture of Start Putting Drops in the Water

Once you get your finger prepped you can start making your design.

Choose another color (I chose teal-ish) and let paint drip from the brush into the saucer of water.

When it drips into the water it should disperse a little bit.

Take your second color (I chose yellow) and let it drip in the same manner, in the middle of the first color.

Keep doing this, alternating colors just a few times. The more colors you use the more you can alternate - since I only used two colors I only alternated about 4 times. But you can really do it as many as you please.

Step 5: Swirl!

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With the needle draw some lines in the colors. This will make everything swirl and twist, and be wonderful!

Step 6: Dip!

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Pick your favorite spot on the design and gently dip your taped finger into the water. You can completely submerge the finger, and the polish will adhere to the nail.

I had a difficult time photographing this part, as both of my hands are full, but dip the toothpick in the water beside your nail and sort of twirl it around to pick up the excess polish in the water.

Slowly lift your finger out of the water, remove the tape, and marvel at your creation.

**For every nail you do, you do need to make new drops.
Use the toothpick to pick up any excess polish in the water before beginning on the next one.**

Step 7: Finishing Up

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After doing the rest of your nails in the same manner, paint over them all with a clear coat.

After that you'll have beautiful, and completely unique nails. :D


ForTheLoveOfFood (author)2015-10-25

really helpfull, its ausum really

KassanaH (author)2015-01-22


KassanaH (author)2015-01-22


aliac22 (author)2015-01-05


ablair12 (author)2014-07-13

I really like this idea! Thank you for keeping it posted even now 2 years later.:)

dallas_sparkles (author)2012-07-04

Do you "dip" your fingernail into the bowl, or lay it ontop of the color/ pattern? It seems like dipping it would cause the pattern to move, hitting the tip of the nail first then sliding down, therefore looking different when you pull it out.

shelbs (author)2012-01-07

ok i did this and i put the colors in the water at room tempurature and it just sat there. and didnt do anything. then i used the needle to spin it all around and it stuck to the needle. i took it off and it did the same thing. So now what shall i do? i loved the idea i think it would work but iam just not doing something right?!?

TristaGee (author)shelbs2012-01-07

When you put the polish in the water you can't let it sit on top of the water very long. You have to work verrry quickly or it will dry and you won't be able to swirl the colors around.

Dino_Monstr_Rawr O.o (author)2011-12-17

Wait so we only tape AROUND the finger nail or ontop the finger nail too? I can't really tell... Lol. BTW, this is such a cool nail design!

It's just AROUND the nail. The tape acts as a guard from getting polish all over the rest of your finger.

GummiBear (author)2011-12-14

Thx for the great idea! I am making red & green nails for christmas!!!!! i hopefully will post a pic but probs not :)))))

TristaGee (author)GummiBear2011-12-15

I'd love to see how they turn out!

buchholzc (author)2011-10-01

Did all ten nails with a indigo red, pink, poppy,salmon and black with indigo red as the base and they turned out awesome!

TristaGee (author)buchholzc2011-10-02

That's sounds really pretty. I would love to see a picture :)

whizper20 (author)2011-09-11

i did it on just one nail to see how it would come out. i will definitely try it again on the rest some time :)

cgreen3 (author)2011-05-29

I don't paint my fingernails cause I am a baker, but i am gonna try this on my toes!

billabonger (author)2011-05-12

i tried this out! but my nail polish seems to be mixing with the water and forming a plastic sheet! help! :( it is an excellent idea!

TristaGee (author)billabonger2011-05-12

Hmm, this happens to me every now and then too.... for next time, if the water was room temperature, the only thing I can think of now is how quickly you are working with the polish once it is dripped into the water. If it sits on the surface of the water too long it will dry and just pull across the water instead of swirling when you try to make a design with the needle.

So just try and work quickly when you get your drops in the water. You may even have to restrict the number of drops you use if they take too long to fall from the brush.

billabonger (author)TristaGee2011-05-13

thank you i will try it out!

pomeegranate (author)2011-05-01

this is called marble nail art isnt it?

TristaGee (author)pomeegranate2011-05-02

I believe so.

happymarshmallows (author)2011-04-28

i tried to do this but it didnt come out well? by the way is the tape important?

The tape is necessary so when you dip your nail in the water, the polish does not get all over the rest of your finger. Without the tape everything can get very messy.

And admittedly, my very first attempt at this was not perfect. Like most things, practice makes perfect.

kmunoz (author)2011-04-26

I tried this and it didn't come out as I expected. D:
Could it have to do with the type of nail polish? Only two of the four I tried would expand in the water.

TristaGee (author)kmunoz2011-04-27

The type of polish really shouldn't have that much of an affect. As you can see, I used three different brands for mine. But perhaps you could try beginning with a different type next time, especially one that is rather thin. Or it may have also been caused by the temperature of the water - make sure that your water is room temp.
And even if the polish doesn't disperse in the water as you would like, you should still be able to spread it around a bit with the needle.

I hope this helps a little. Let me know how they turn out next time!

kmunoz (author)TristaGee2011-04-27

Oh, I think it may have been the water. I think I'll try again soon, thanks.

starfish28 (author)2011-04-26

Just did me nails! Though I should of read all comments before I did it as I didn't realise you need new polish for each nail DOH!! It turned out ok. Probably better if I had done new polish for each nail but oh well.. next time.
Such an awesome idea and saves the $$ on maincures!!!^^

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)2011-04-25

very cool idea -- and like others, I see immediate applications for future projects that an enamel paint would be appropriate for.  Love the suggestion of doing up fake nails using some type of dop stick to dip 'em. Plastidip... wonder how to use this technique with Plastidip... hmmmm

YES you can use latex, vaseline, glue, or rubber cement as a mask, and it would peel off.

NO, enamel paint will not stick to any wet surface, your nail (or other thing) would have to be dry for this to work.

zainabn (author)2011-04-25


Tabbit90 (author)2011-04-25

Would the paint still stick if you brought your finger up from underneath the paint do you think? Just that that would make it easier to get the section of the design that you like best... Or would getting them wet first stop the paint from sticking do you think?

TristaGee (author)Tabbit902011-04-25

Hmm, I've never thought of that before. It wouldn't hurt to try it I suppose. If all else fails, there is always the polish remover!

murpchild (author)2011-04-25

Provided you're not allergic to latex, could you use art masking fluid or latex adhesive to mask off your finger? May be easier than tape but I caqn't try it as I'm allergic to latex :(

TristaGee (author)murpchild2011-04-25

It wouldn't hurt to try whatever you feel would work best. Tape is all I had at my disposal, and all I had ever used in the past, so that's what I used in my Instructable. Many of the suggestions that people have given on here though seem like they would work perfectly fine, like the rubber cement.

PaHalloweenFreak (author)2011-04-24

I rarely do my nails, but this is really AWESOME! I will definitely try this the next time I have something I need my nails done for.
I imagine this would also work for the glue on nails too. You could take a small piece of silly putty or something temporary & attach it to a popsicle stick to dip them before you need them.

Rossyta (author)2011-04-24

Simply awesome!! I would have never come up with it. It usually takes me almost an hour to get my nails dyed and they don't look a bit like yours.

Thank you!

BtheBike (author)2011-04-24

i do this with shirts. some call it suminagashi , erbu ,paper marbling ...
cool stuff . I may try your polish trick for a bicycle frame badge

sabbott (author)2011-04-24

do you need to pour new polish into the water for each nail?
Awesome look, and would be a fun way to finish off those lingering bits of nail color near the end of the bottle.

TristaGee (author)sabbott2011-04-24

Yes, for each nail you have to do new drops.

astack229 (author)2011-04-24

I love it!!! Can't wait to give it a try!!! Thanks for the instructable!

scoochmaroo (author)2011-04-22

This is incredible. I've seen this method for marbling paper before, but never thought of using it for nails. I bet you could use something as simple as rubber cement as a resist if you wanted something more accurate than the tape too!

TristaGee (author)scoochmaroo2011-04-22

Very true. I didn't have any of that handy, but now that you mention it, rubber cement would probably be less of a hassle as well.

Olivia (author)TristaGee2011-04-24

My thought was using some vaseline before I scrolled down to the comments! It's a common bathroom item AND softens your fingers. :)

Cute idea, by the way. I'm already thinking of other things I can use this technique for.

TristaGee (author)Olivia2011-04-24

I know what you mean. I attempted to do it with Easter eggs yesterday. I did get some okay results, but not exactly what I wanted. Marbled eggs still need some work - hopefully you will have better luck than I, and have fun doing it :D

Kimbalicious (author)2011-04-24

lovely! My daughter and I shall be doing this tomorrow!!

withing (author)2011-04-24

That's pretty neat. I like it.

evilution (author)2011-04-24

Excellent. Wood glue, white glue and copydex type glues would work too and would be easy to remove afterwards.

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