How to Make Nail Decals

Written by chyrene pendleton
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How to Make Nail Decals
Use any kind of design, picture or symbol for your nail decals. (nail art fur image by Daria Miroshnikova from

When you receive a professional manicure, you can choose among a variety of nail art techniques, including gems, glitter, freestyle art and nail decals. Nail decals appear as designs or pictures transferred to your fingernails in the form of self-adhesive stick-on patterns. You can also express your creativity by making your own nail decals in any design you desire.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Clear plastic bag
  • Scissors
  • Coloured nail polish
  • Nail polish brush
  • Toothpicks
  • Soap
  • Fingernail clipper
  • Fingernail emery board
  • Clear nail polish

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  1. 1

    Cut out a piece of clear plastic bag approximately the size of a standard 8-by-11-inch sheet of paper.

  2. 2

    Choose one of your nail polish colours and draw a design on the plastic using the nail polish brush and/or a toothpick. Keep the nail polish thick--too thin and it can break. Make a design like a heart, stars, smiley face or flower petals. You can also copy a design you like from a magazine; just keep it simple.

  3. 3

    Allow your nail polish art to dry completely on the plastic, from 45 minutes to one hour.

  4. 4

    Clean your fingernails thoroughly with soap and warm water. Clip your nails and file them smooth. Apply a coat of clear nail polish to one of your fingernails.

  5. 5

    Loosen your design using a toothpick, then peel it off. Place the design on top of your wet, newly polished fingernail either on the nail bed or the nail tip. Press the design down firmly with the toothpick, making certain the edges do not stick up.

  6. 6

    Apply clear nail polish on top of the design to seal it.

  7. 7

    Reapply a coat of clear nail polish on your decals every two to three days to keep your art sealed and protected.

Tips and warnings

  • Start with a base coat of nail polish in a colour of your choice, rather than clear polish. For example, you could have silver nail polish as a background for black star decals. Or create pink and lavender flower decals, then stick them onto a dark purple nail polish background.
  • If you want more details, create your decals using a fine, detail brush from the art store.
  • If you eat with your hands or get food on them, your nail stickers will wear out faster.

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