Nail Decals: The Easiest Way To Make Your Manicure A Million Times More Adorable

Warning: Reading this may lead to spending hours looking at cutesy things on Etsy.
Publish date:
July 9, 2013
manicures, nail art, How-To, Sally Hansen, zoya, etsy, Seche Vite, ncla, nail decals

I have a wee bit of a nail art addiction. Not the kind of addiction that interferes with my personal life or requires intervention, but enough of an obsession that people may question my priorities.

For example, my Facebook timeline is essentially a feel-good amalgam of cat pictures and detailed shots of recent manicures; and people are constantly tagging me on various social media platforms on any/everything nail related.

As such, I do receive a raised eyebrow from others and am used to hearing questions such as, "How do you have time to do that?" and "Why do you spend so much time on something that lasts only a few days?"

In addition to hours spent oohing and ahhing over nail art on niche blogs and beauty websites, I like to keep up with drama in the nail art world (yep, there's drama) and always know when all the new nail polish lines debut. And you can bet your OPI collection that I'm all over every nail art trend the minute it hits the market.

Which leads me to my latest nail infatuation: nail decals.

No, not those nail stickers that cover the whole nail, and not the tiny adhesive stickers that've been around for ages. These are a little different. And while they're not exactly new, they have been picking up some steam in the nail-o-sphere, and I love how customizable they are!

I plan to make my own nail decals in the very near future, and you can make yours, as well. (I envision portraits of my cats on my fingernails…) To make your own, pick up some waterslide decal paper made for inkjet printers. You can find the paper at most office supply stores or online. It's the same paper you use for making temporary tattoos or for transferring a design onto another object.

Anyway, I wanted to do a test run before investing in the paper, so I searched on Etsy (which, by the way, is a black hole for my wallet) and found some real gems in PineGalaxy's shop.

These decals pack some serious wow. And guys, these things are so easy to use. I kind of went into temporary shock mode after I was finished, as I'm used to spending a solid two to three hours per manicure. (Don't worry, though, I filled up that extra me-time with an at-home pedicure.)

Tip: In order for the decals to stand out, you need to place them against a neutral background. For my sweet little giraffes, I went with Zoya's Minka, a slightly shimmery nude polish. I love a good nude. I mean that in multiple contexts. White polish also works, though I find it's less forgiving of a color and tends to streak.

For my vintage flower decals, I used a creamy mint color. The color on my nails in the picture is NCLA's "AM: Beauty Sleep, PM: Shopping Spree," which I'm basically in love with. However, if you're on the prowl for a less expensive, drug store version, try Sally Hansen's Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Color in "Mint Sorbet."

Once the polish dries completely, cut out your nail decals and place them (one at a time) in water for five to 10 seconds.

Next, remove from the water and carefully slide the decal off the paper. Place it on your nail, gently soak up any excess water, and seal that bad boy in with two or three coats of Seche Vite. Then, ogle freely throughout the day and wiggle your fingers in front of everybody's face so they can see your pretty manicure, too.

Do you vote yay or nay on nail decals? Have you ever actually printed off your own? If so, it's kind of important that I see pictures (or at least hear all about it).