Thursday, 23 May 2013

How To Make Your Own Nail Decals Tutorial

Tonight I tried a new technique I recently came across on and then also on and beaching nails. - How to create your own nail decals!
This is where you pre-prepare a design for your nails on a plastic sheet or baking/wax paper, and then transfer it to your nails.

There's so many pros about this technique I'll have to make a list!
  • I find it much easier painting onto a sandwich bag or baking paper than it is painting onto my nails...
  • Probably because you don't have to paint with your non-dominant hand!
  • If you make a mistake/don't like the colour you used/decide on something better- its ok! - just try again.... you don't have to remove all your polish and start from the beginning.
  • Can pre-paint/prepare nail art for use when you don't have much time.
  • I've actually never used a nail decal.... but these seem to work well, being made completely of nail polish, as they kind of dissolve onto your nails when you add top coat.

This technique is also awesome for stamping nail art (I used it for this).
  • All of the above...
  • You can colour in the stamping designs!!!! I'd always wanted to do this but colouring them in  on the nail just covers the lines up unless your a super-human. (see the tutorial to see how this works.... when you flip the decal over even if you make a huge colouring-in fail mess it turns out perfect on the other side!)
  • You can cut out a specific part of a stamp design if you don't want to use the whole thing. Yes you can also do this by quickly removing parts of the design on the stamper with acetone on a q-tip, but I'm never fast enough and the polish dries. 
  • If you are using a stamp design that needs to be centered on the nail, or in a specific spot on the nail (ie so all the nails are the same) this technique makes it easy :) 
  • This also applies for non full nail stamps, where you want the design to be on the same place of each nail.

The only disadvantage I found was that sometimes the design won't sit flat and requires extra top coat meaning it can be a little thick.

Anyway, here is the tutorial I made for making your own stamping nail decal. You would do the same for hand painted designs minus the stamping (obviously :P  ):

Since making this tutorial I have also tried using baking paper instead of a sandwich bag. The decals slide off the wax paper much easier than they did off the plastic so if you are having trouble removing your decals from the plastic try baking paper instead. The only downside is that they actually slide off too easily.... and if part of the decal is still drying (ie a part you have coloured in) the wet part sticks to the wax paper and the rest detaches, ruining the decal.
I have also experimented with stamping directly onto the plastic/baking paper, and then adding the top coat over the top (thinking this would mean I didn't have to line up the stamp over my clear polish), but it smeared really easily. I think that without body warmth it takes much longer to dry completely, or just gets smeared easily without a base... not sure why, but working over a pre-painted clear base seems to be the best way to go for me.

Something I have found to hep in the application to your nail is to wait for your top coat to partially dry and become tacky (only 20 seconds approx with seche vite) before applying the decal. This way it will stick rather than slide around :)

As I said above you can pre-prepare these decals for later use. Here are some I have stockpiled:

And here are some more pictures of my home made feather nail decal mani!
The polishes used in the sponge gradient are
  • China Glaze Sunset Sail (lightest)
  • Revitanail Barely There (Middle shade nude)
  • Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Mocha Mix (reddy purply browny colour)
The feathers are stamped from GA38 (gals fairy series) with konad dark brown special polish
The feathers were painted with Mocha Mix and Barely There. 

I noticed I'm getting a lot of traffic to this page, so clearly people are interested in this technique!... So I thought I'd post other manis I have done using home made decals :)

For this manicure, the ring finger feature nail was done with a decal. I tried stamping directly onto the nail a few times but couldn't get it centered (which I can't stand!). So I stamped it onto plastic (over seche) and then applied it exactly where I wanted it :) 
More pictures and details on polishes used here

Once again.... tried about 3 times to stamp that darn Eiffel Tower in the centre of the nail, failed, ruined the base colours with polish remover .....and then made a decal. Much easier!
More details on this manicure and a picture of it in front of the Eiffel Tower can be found here. 

For these butterflies I used a paper punch on the decals. Tutorial and more info here

And here is the pièce de résistance! Floral decals make using MoYou London pro plate 06. More details here. These are by far my best decals that I have made so far!

These were made with MoYou explorer plate 03 whuch has great designs for this technique! See the full post here .

Thanks for stopping by!!!


  1. I really like this tutorial and I hope to try it out soon. I do have a question, though. How long do the pre made decals keep? I've heard that they become brittle and unusable. Also, do they get stuck together if you put them altogether in a bag?

    Any help would be appreciated!

    1. (Im going to copy my previous answer as I realized I didn't post as a reply!)

      I haven't actually had a chance to use any that were older than a week yet. Those seemed to be fine, although I did notice that some I had left on my plastic sheet fell off (maybe because they were brittle?)
      As for the sticking together in a bag- same deal- I've only left them a maximum of a week and it was fine- However I have some at home in a bag that have been there for about 6 weeks!- I will check it out tonight :)

      Checked the decals I had made 6 weeks ago and they seem as good as ever. Don't stick together and I could bend them quite severely without them breaking in half- so not brittle. Maybe problems can arise with different top coats, or perhaps if the top coat applied is to thin/thick. I used a pretty old (therefore thick) bottle of seche vite, so I guess my decals are pretty thick. I only applied one layer to make the clear base.
      Hope this helps <3

  2. Hi There!
    I haven't actually had a chance to use any that were older than a week yet. Those seemed to be fine, although I did notice that some I had left on my plastic sheet fell off (maybe because they were brittle?)
    As for the sticking together in a bag- same deal- I've only left them a maximum of a week and it was fine- However I have some at home in a bag that have been there for about 6 weeks!- I will check it out tonight :)

  3. One thing I have done when I make a mistake putting more polish on my nails is to wipe it off with an alcohal swab. It will ony remove the nail polish that is wet or damp, and not hurt the other layers at all. Just a tip. :-)

    1. =o
      I've never heard of this. Thanks so much! I cant wait to try it next time I make a mistake.

      Could save me a lot of frustration. When re-doing one lone nail I can never wait long enough for it to dry before I try stamp/scotch tape etc.. then I have to re-do a third time because it's smushed!

  4. I used your technique for some hand painted, really detailed transfers. Thank you for sharing, I hope these hold up for a week!

  5. Thank you for this tutorial. You have opened up a whole new dimension in stamping. I have my first batch drying as I write this. You are so talented! I'll probably show the results in my blog and I'll put a link to your tutorial. This is so great. I can see we have the same MoYou plates from the Explorer collection. Wow

    1. I just checked them out on your blog! They look so amazing - Great job!!! I love those explorer plates for this technique but I absolutely agree that they are too large!!!!

  6. What you have seen on my blog is actual stamping... That's why the designs are not aligned correctly. I have not posted your decals yet. I'll make sure to post a link to your blog. Just finished cutting them and they are perfect! You have created a monster. Did test trials with different polishes and chromes are great for this!

    1. Oh my lord but they are so amazing! Kudos to you!!!
      I can't wait to see the decals!!!!

  7. Great tutorial and inspiring manis! I have had no luck with decals in terms of getting them to adhere or lay flat on my nail, whether I use my SV or a slower-drying top coat. I've tried to do it dry, wet or touch dry, and I still can't get it. (Only thing I haven"t tried yet is a hair dryer, which some folk say makes the decal pliable). I am determined though: your manis are gorgeous! Thank you :)

  8. Love this tutorial. I must try and create my own decals! Thank you!!


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