It’s almost summer, GR8 beauties, and you know what that means—we’re about to see a whole lot of color popping on nails. While I myself maintain that nail color should not be limited to seasons, I can totally get behind mixing it up and trying something different. If you’re looking for an all-time classic in DIY art, tie-dye polish can bring all of the I-did-it-at-home goodness with a salon, in-depth design.
If you’re anything like me and indecisive about your nail color, tie-dye nails are your solution for rocking more than one. Not to mention, they’re probably not as obvious when they chip in comparison to other colors. They’re GR8 for summer, kids, and anyone who’s ever loved tie-dye.
It’s fun to do, looks awesome, and honestly—they don’t call it ‘do it yourself’ for no reason. There is more than one way to go about achieving tie-dye nails, all relatively simple and similar in process. If anything, it may take some extra time to refine the design you want. Other than that, it’s quicker than waiting in a salon without an appointment.
Ready to get to tie-dyeing those fingertips? Here’s everything you need to know to start.
Choose Your Method
As previously noted, there are two main ways to get the tie-dye nails of your dreams at home. They’re familiar for their signature watercolor-like, marble design. These are the most common ways of achieving them at home.
With water: The water method is very common. It basically entails depositing color droplets into a cup of water, and dipping your fingernails int.
Without water: In going without water, there are several ways to produce a tie-dye nail. One would be to paint the design on a Petri dish or other flat surface, using the dollop to dip on or imprint the design instead of water. Another way would be to use a sponge or brush to tap onto the nail, though these methods might be slightly more advanced depending on the design you’re going for.
Get Your Tools Ready
Once you’ve decided on a method, you’ll need to gather together the tools in your nailcare kit.
- Polish colors (all methods): Decide what colors you’d like to incorporate into your tie-dye nails. There will be colors you need to build on each other and blend, so try to stick with colors that contrast with one another to get the tie-dye feel. Choose these along with whatever base coat you’d like to put under the tie-dye. Then, don’t forget a clear polish for your top coat.
- Tape (all methods): Use a scotch or duct tape to wrap around your nails and shield the skin as the design settles.
- Cuticle remover (all methods): A cuticle tool will be useful cleaning up any mess around the nails. However, there are other ways to peel the polish off so this tool is really optional.
- Cup of water (water method only): If you’re going with the water method, fill a cup with filtered, room temperature water.
- Skewer or tool to move the polish (water method only): Grab a tool that you can use to drag the polish that will sit on the surface of the water.
- Sponge (sponge method): If you’ve chosen the sponge method, a makeup sponge will do just fine.
- Paints/blooming gel: For omitting water, if you choose to use a dish, surface or brush to design your nails, it’s also possible to use paints not necessarily intended for use on nails. In this case, we advise being cautious of materials and chemicals. A blooming gel is a kind of polish that disperses the color once applied on top. This type of gel is perfect for getting the tie-dye effect without water.
Because tie-dye is an art form, we’re positive there are even more ways to go about it than one can account for in selecting a method. However, because the water method is the most simple, we’ll guide you through the step-by-step process. Refer to the following steps for the water method. Start with by removing all old polish from your nails, and use an emery board to shape them, if needed.
The Water Method
Once you’ve gathered your polish, tape, water cup, skewer stick, and cuticle remover tool, you’re ready to start.
Apply tape around the nails onto the surrounding fingertips. This is simply to prevent the polish from getting onto your skin in a messy way.
Apply your base coat. It can be either a color or simply a clear coat. Let it dry thoroughly.
Grab your water cup and the remaining polish colors you’d like to use for your tie-dye. Start by grabbing your first color, and lightly deposit a drop into the water. Be careful not to use too much of a drop, an indication of this would be if it beads together and sinks to the bottom of the cup.
The first color should pool at the surface of the water cup. Then, apply your next color, and so forth. Layer each color on top of one another so that they are creating a bull’s eye design. Then, drag the edges of the bull’s eye design from the center of the design outward to inner corners of the cup. Don’t be afraid to be creative.
Choose the part of the design that you’d like to have on your nail, then dip your nail into the pool of polish. Let it sit for approximately 30 seconds or until you notice that it’s drying. Then use the skewer to drag away the excess that remains in the cup. Do this before removing your fingertip from the water.
Remove your finger from the water, then the tape, and let it dry. Conclude by applying a top coat to secure the color.
Using Other Methods
If you choose to go the non-water route and want to create a tie-dye nail with a brush, sponge or paint, the process will be similar. The difference is all in how to deposit the color.
It can disperse onto a sponge in drops that are close to one another, not forming a bulls eye, but rather, simply placing the color onto the sponge in a way where they would combine if swept onto the nail.
If you use paintbrush, you can use color that’s placed onto a surface in the same way as the sponge, but instead combining them as you tap and collect the color with the brush. This method allows for a different kind of design, and also presents an opportunity to use a blooming gel to develop the mixture.
If you’d like to go for a paint and peel approach, you’ll apply the color to a surface, let it dry, peeled off, and then applied to the nail. Remove excess, and then apply a top coat to seal. Once you’re done, check out these tips for making your manicure last longer.
So there you have it. Your at-home tie-dye dream polish awaits!