DIY: Watercolor Nails


The nail art trend often seems reserved for the select few with true artistic talent, and the added patience to work on ten writhing, one-inch canvases. Of all the nail DIYs I’ve come across, this “watercolor/spiderweb” variation, created by manicurist Alicia Torello, seemed like something even the fumbling non-artist (aka me) could accomplish. Allure‘s Sophie Panych outlined the steps for achieving this hair spray-infused manicure for the magazine’s Daily Beauty Reporter blog, which I have outlined below.  I settled on a more minimal palette than Sophie’s punchy one, yet feel free to choose however many (or few) colors you wish!*



Picture 15

Before (L) and after (R) hair spray spritz.


  • Basecoat
  • Topcoat
  • Polish of your choosing (minimum of two)*
  • Nail polish remover
  • Hair spray or body splash
  • A handful of disposable wedge sponges, cut into quarters
  • Orange wood sticks
  • Small plastic container


1. Apply basecoat to clean nails.

2. Place small blobs of all polish colors (besides what you’ll use for your top layer) onto an easily cleaned surface (Torello used a piece of plastic). Dip the edge of a wedge sponge into one polish, dabbing it onto a section of each nail for a watercolor effect. Repeat step until all polish colors are applied to nails. Allow nails to dry fully (approximately ten minutes).

3. Place a few drops of polish into a water-filled plastic container until a large colored circle forms. Add more or less polish to the water depending on the opaqueness of the polish itself, as well as how opaque you’d like it to appear on the nails.

4. Give a spritz of hair spray to the water, causing the polish to separate into a web pattern. Holding fingers parallel to the water/polish mixture, dip them one at a time into the water, using an orange wood stick to separate the emerging nail from the water. The polish will attach itself to your fingers, so wipe with nail polish remover once the polish on your fingernails has dried.

5. Apply a layer of topcoat, reapplying every two days to keep nails looking fresh.

*The hair spray technique won’t work with glitter polish as either the top or bottom layer (or at least neither attempt proved successful on my end).


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