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How to Do Water Marble Nails

This one-of-a-kind nail art technique is easily achievable -- no nail art experts required

There's a reason all things marble beg to be Instagrammed: The natural stone is the It Girl's neutral, a timeless pattern that looks just as great on kitchen countertops as it does on your accessories. So, why not put it on your nails, too? Water marble nail art looks complex: Intricate patterns of swirling colors coat each nail, resulting in an inspired-by-nature type of marbling that seems endlessly complicated. But the technique actually isn't that difficult. Here's how to create this chic marble pattern on your nails with a bowl of water.
How to achieve gorgeous water marble nails like these
Thumb and Image via

3 to 4 colors of nail polish -- contrasting colors look best in a marble design, but you can play around with your favorite color combinations
White nail polish
Clear base coat
Clear top coat
Nail polish remover
Shallow dish
Bottle of room-temperature water
Cotton swabs
Optional: Quick-dry nail finishing spray

Step 1: Prep
Prep nails with a clear base coat

First, apply a clear base coat to all of your nails and allow them to dry completely. Taking the time to work on your nails before creating the water marble nail art will ensure that your marbled masterpiece looks better and lasts longer.

Step 2: Create a Background
Apply white polish as your background

Next, apply a coat of white polish to the nails. If you're new to marbling, a coat of white polish will make the marbling stand out more and help disguise any places the marbled polish didn't adhere to the nail. Allow it to dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Tape Your Fingers
Tape around your fingers to avoid polish from getting on your skin

Use the Scotch or medical tape to wrap your fingers, covering everything but the nails. Tape up to the nails as closely as possible while still leaving the nails fully exposed. This step keeps the water marble nail art from ending up all over your fingers.

Step 4: Create Your Polish Layers
Start layering the different colors of nail polish

Next, it's time to get the water and nail polish arranged for the coloring process. Pour the water into the dish. Crack open your first bottle of nail polish and pull out the brush. Hold the brush over the water and allow the polish to drip down into the dish. The product will spread out over the surface of the water. Repeat this process with alternating colors until you have about eight layers of polish on the water. Each time, the new drop of color should fall as close to the middle of the previous layer as possible.

Step 5: Swirl Your Marble Design
Create your marble design

Place the tip of a toothpick in the water, and drag the water in a circular direction around the polish to encourage the polish circles to expand. Next, stick the toothpick in the outer ring of polish and pull it toward the middle of the polish circles. Go around the circle and repeat this motion so that you create a a marble-like effect.

Step 6: Dip Your Digit
Dip your finger into the marble polish

It's finally time to dip your fingers! Insert one nail into the water at a 45-degree angle. The polish will cling to the nail. Use a fresh toothpick to pull the unused polish away from your nail. Then, pull out your finger.

Step 7: Repeat for Each Nail
Repeat steps for each nail and allow them to dry

For each finger, layer and swirl the polish. Then, dip your fingernail. Allow all nails to fully dry.

Step 8: Clean Up Your Mani
Use a cotton swab to clean up any stray polish
Remove the tape. Dip a cotton swab in nail polish remover, and use it to clean up any color that seeped under the tape or onto the cuticle.

Images via Getty

Step 9: Protect Your Masterpiece
Paint a coat of clear nail polish to seal in your water marble nail art
Don't let your water marble nail artwork go to waste! After the marbling dries, protect your water nail art by going over it with a layer of clear top coat.


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