Water marbled nails and some tips!

Water marbling is one of my least favourite designs to do. I mean, it looks awesome, but it's so hard to make it work! The biggest problem I had today is that I didn't have the right stuff with me to make it easier - although it worked out in the end, I guess. I'll show you what I've done, tell you the problems I had and the ways to fix them.

Here's the final look! I used:
Revlon - Golden Charm
China Glaze - Call of the Wild
Sally Hansen Diamond Strength - Black Tie
China Glaze - Blonde Bombshell
CR - 58 (white)

I should note that my top coat turned "Call of the Wild" a more purply colour. It tends to do that to browns! I'm not buying it again! (It's Yello-out, by the way). I used Seche Vite's ridge filling base coat, as I always do now. It's love ♥.

Left hand

I do love the final result, I may even keep these on for longer than two days :O. It's much better in real life too, I haven't really sorted out my lightbox at the new house yet and my photos aren't that great. Still, if this was my first time doing nail art, I would never return... it took about three hours!

If you don't know what water marbling is, check out this video

It was just so hard to make the polish spread. I should know by now that I need brand new nail polish for it to work properly, I guess I was just hoping. I've done watermarbling five or so times before (and sometimes it was fine!) but when I think about it, the times it was easy was just after I had bought new nail polsih. Most of my current "new" polish is actually second hand or had been waiting around for months before I got it for Christmas.

Water marbled nails, pre dots!

Here are the problems I had (and what most people have):

1. The nail polish wouldn't spread on the surface of the water. Or it would spread, but other polishes wouldn't spread over it. One of my newest nail polishes worked great, but it kind of worked too well and broke through the other polish circles. Sometimes it would also only spread once, and just stay as a blob on the water the second time.

2. Water temperature problems. Too hot, too cold, just not right.

3. When drawing the pattern on, the polish was too dry and would just stick to the cuticle stick, ruining the nail design.

4. Leftover nail polish remained floating on the top of the container.

My biggest problem was the first one, I'm just grasping at straws now. However, another problem I know of it the polish not being opaque enough go over your base colour. I painted my nails white first to avoid this, and it made the colours stand out more, too.

My right hand


1. Be prepared! Buy new nail polish, or use some you've only recently bought. By new, I'm meaning within the last month. Brands aren't as important, although I've had the most success with Revlon and China Glaze. New nail polish is thinner and will spread properly. If you have nail polish thinner you could try that with your older polish, but I find I waste too much doing that and it doesn't always work anyway. So get three or so bottles of new nail polish - I'm planning on grabbing a few cheap Jordanas when I'm next in town.

Another related tip I've read in various places is that filtered water is best - something to do with the chemicals etc. I don't have a water filter and until I do it's out of the question for me. However, if you have access to one, use it! It should make the polish spread better.

2. Regarding water temperature problems, again it's best to plan ahead. Everyone says get "room temperature" water, but that's a bit vague for me. I sit there playing with the tap for 10 minutes and half the time I still get it wrong! Someone said on Yahoo Answers that 72ºF (22 ºC) is a good temperature, so try that if possible.

 Personally, next time I'm simply going to plan ahead. I'm doing water marbled nails on someone else next weekend, and as I'm getting paid for it I really want them to work. So, I'm going to fill up a couple of bowls of water, cover them and leave them overnight. I can just scoop some out when I need it then, and it should all be the same (room) temperature. Hopefully that'll work out better. I'm sure I'll do a post about my first customers so I'll let you know how this goes in that.

3. Make sure you draw your design from a couple of circles in. Don't start on the very edge, as that's the driest and will just pull the whole design away. You could try drawing it from the middle, too. Experiment however you like, but stay away from those nasty dry edges! Clean the cuticle stick every now and again too.

4. If there are big patches of nail polish leftovers floating on the surface, use a cotton bud to remove them. If they're small, you'll have to change the water.

I've heard McDonalds cups are a good size to use. I sometimes use ice cream containers because they're big enough to fit a few fingers in at a time, but today I did it in an old mug. It didn't seem to make too much difference. The only important thing here is to make sure the water is deep enough. It's extremely frustrating when you accidentally hit the bottom with your submerged nail, and have to start again from scratch!

Another water marbling tip - it's best to cover your skin before doing it, as it's a pain to clean it all off. It'll take a bit longer to start off with, but it's worth it! I've tried it with both masking tape and cuticle oil. I think I prefer cuticle oil, although it's not as obvious where you have and haven't applied it.

Most of all, be patient. Don't expect to do all your nails in 20 minutes. If you're just starting, try for just one or two nails on each hand.

As you can see, in my design I added some gold dots on the darker colours. I think this makes a normal water marble 183205839 times cooler! I also used a brush to go over some of the bits that I didn't like as much, and added glitter over the original gold.

If you have any tips on water marbling, or would like to share your experience, please do so in the comments!
Here are some good posts from other bloggers about water marbled nail art.

Before I go - look what arrived in the mail today! Heaps of gorgeous polishes that I bought off another kiwi nail addict, Michaela. Lots of indies in there, too. I can not WAIT to try them all out!

One more thing! I've had quite a few requests lately and I still haven't done most of the old ones - sorry! I just always have other ideas I'd prefer to do, or in this case actually need to do. I do intend to get to them eventually :)


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