I Shibori Tie-Dyed Everything This Summer, Including My Nails

I love this perfectly imperfect manicure.
Publish date:
September 6, 2016
manicures, nail art, Sally Hansen, nails polish, markers, Tie-dye

Do you ever see something once and then all of a sudden it is everywhere?

That was me this summer with Shibori-style tie-dye. I saw one tutorial, tried it, and then I go to Target or wherever and everything is tie-dyed. I was pretty obsessed with the process and the results and I ended up dyeing far more fabric than I could ever need.

So, obviously, I had to figure out how to do it on my nails, too.

I want to preface this saying that I tried several more highbrow ways of doing this tutorial using nail polish tools and techniques, even busting out a clear plastic thing to use as a palette, but this super-easy one with markers ended up giving the most authentic-looking results.

You will need permanent markers — one in a blue and one in a slightly darker blue — rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, white nail polish, and a top coat.

Paint on your favorite white polish until you get a nice even base — you don't want it to be streaky or see-through at all, so if you have to do three coats (I did) do that.

Let the white polish dry all the way down (you can even do this step the night before) because you can screw up your Sharpies and the finished look if your nails are still tacky.

Take your lighter blue marker and draw on a boxy design pretty thick, but not so thick that it's taking up your whole nail. There are loads of different Shibori tie-dye folds that get different results, but I found the square one to be the easiest to recreate on the nails.

Using a fine-tip darker blue (or be careful to use just the point of the tip on a regular one) darken up the lines, making sure it isn't too perfect. When you actually dye fabric, the dye attaches and soaks through in different ways, so to replicate that effect, you don't want perfectly straight lines or you'll end up with a really open plaid.

Wet a Q-tip with rubbing alcohol so it is pretty much soaking wet, it evaporates really quickly, so don't under-do it. I found it made things easier if I loosened up the cotton before soaking it because there was more surface area to go over the nail.

Rub that Q-tip all over your nail to diffuse and erase some marker. You don't need to use, like, any pressure or jab the Q-tip into your nails or anything to get it to work — the rubbing alcohol will work it's magic all on its own.

Repeat the last few steps until you have covered all of your nails with your own personal pattern.

I love that this manicure isn't perfect and that every nail ends up looking different.

  • Have you tried permanent-marker nail art?
  • How about tie-dyeing? Because I love it — I just don't know what I'll make with all the fabric.