Renounce the End of Summer With This Crashing-Waves Mani

It's as fun to create as it is to look at! Actually, looking at it might make you sad if you didn't make it to the beach this year.
Publish date:
September 7, 2015
manicures, nail art, tutorials, How-To, beach

I’m in a bit of denial that summer is basically over now. I think because I spent the last month apartment-hunting, then packing and finally moving, that August basically didn’t even happen and we are still in the dead of summer. It’s also still well into the upper 80s here in New Orleans, which helps.

But regardless, please bear with me while I get this last summer-inspired manicure out of my system.

Even though I didn’t make it to an actual beach this summer, I saw enough beachy humblebrags on Instagram to want to recreate the look of waves crashing onto the sand and pulling back away so you could see the beach beneath.

The base of this manicure is a sandy color called Don’t Feed the Hand Models from Sephora by OPI. And, of course, the Orly Bonder base coat underneath which, as I’ve mentioned before, is the only base coat I use. I used more muted colors for this mani to make it a little more appropriate for the fall transition, but feel free to amp up to full summer brightness.

To make the sea-like splashes, you will need a receptacle for holding water and nail polish, nail polish remover, a spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol (or perfume or any other misty product with alcohol in it), your nail polish of choice, a bobby pin, and a cotton ball.

Fill your container with warm water and drip in a few drops of nail polish. Here is the time to note that super-thin and super-thick nail polishes did not work with this technique. At all. Save yourself the frustration and go for a polish that needs two coats to do a typical manicure.

Also, move quickly at this step; if you wait too long between drops, you can get just a solid polish drop that doesn’t spread out and gets messy when you try to work with it.

Spray down your polish with any liquid that has at least some alcohol in it. You’ll need the product to evaporate, and you’ll need the spray to come out with droplets big enough to go through the polish; too fine a mist won’t do anything, and too powerful a spray will just kill it.

This is what your polish will look like after you give it a good spray or two.

Choose a particularly cool looking part of the polish and gently place your nail into it. Try not to move your hand around too much, and don’t worry about it adhering to the nail, it sticks really well to your pre-polished nails.

Take your bobby pin and pull the excess polish off. This makes it a bajillion times easier to clean up your manicure. The polish in the water is pretty much dry at this point so you can wrap it around the pin to keep it from getting all over the place.

The first time I tried this manicure I just dunked my finger in the water and all the polish got stuck to my finger and trust me, it was a pain and a half to get off. Learn from my mistakes—don’t do it.

This is what your nails will look like after their little dip in the ocean. Take some time in between each finger to use a polish remover soaked cotton ball (or Q-Tip, whatever) to get the majority of the extra polish off your skin.

Finish your manicure by cleaning up the extra polish and topping it off with your top coat of choice.

I love how this manicure turned out. It was a lesson in letting go (Type A over here) because you really can’t control how it is going to look, but all together, I think the effect is pretty neat!

  • What do you think of this nail-art technique?
  • Did you get to go to a beach this summer (or live by a beach? JEALOUS)?

Can you regale me with your summer holiday stories? I need some vicarious relaxation.