The Chalkboard Mani Is The Easiest Thing Ever

I love kits and complicated stuff. But chalkboard nails do not even need any of that.
Publish date:
April 10, 2013
beauty industry, nail polish, manicures, DIY, mariannicures, chalkboard, matte top coat

The other day, I got a question via Twitter about the Chalkboard manicure, which is a new thing making the rounds. It's definitely a neat mani, one that appeals to me because it's not dependent on great artistic ability or having hours worth of time to devote to nail art.

Ciate is the brand pushing this mani -- they're the ones who also pushed kits for the Caviar mani and the Velvet mani. They've also recently done foils.

And they've also got a particularly adversarial relationship with nail bloggers, several of whom saw cease and desist letters when DIY versions of the Caviar mani started popping up.

There was so much nail polish drama, y'all. It was kind of ugly. But it was also fascinating -- because I understand the impulse of a small business to protect its product but nail bloggers are not only the natural audience for this stuff, but also the best promotional tool out there.

At any rate, I have tried to remember that some people like the ease and convenience of kits, just like I sometimes use boxed cake mix. DIY manicures are an awesome creative endeavor whether folks get their supplies at Sephora or the craft store, right?

But let's talk about this Chalkboard mani for a red hot minute. Because the kit is set to retail for near enough to $40, based on Google price conversions. And that seems like a hell of a lot for a manicure that is pretty much entirely dependent on matte topcoat.

That's the entire secret to it. Matte topcoat.

Here's the how-to for the basic look:

  1. Polish your nails with a black polish.
  2. Apply matte topcoat.
  3. Let it dry.
  4. Use pastel nail polish or actual chalk to draw designs.
  5. Apply another coat of matte topcoat.

The more matte the topcoat, the better. (Some matte topcoats have kind of a satin finish. I like the Butter London matte topcoat but the Essie one is okay, too.) You can also start off with a matte black polish if you want to avoid the extra layer of topcoat. In that case, I'd suggest the original ManGlaze polishes, regardless of your gender identification. In Matte Is Murder, of course.

(Please note: the polish names make me roll my eyes sometimes because they descend into stereotypical "dude" humor. Your tolerance may vary! Personally, I thought "Fatty's Got More Blood" was a great red.)

(Please also note: ManGlaze has been kicking around for years. I don't know how long Alphanail has been on the market but I prefer how ManGlaze is vegan and cruelty free. Also, they sometimes make sexist jokes with their polish names but they don't claim to be, like, biologically superior either, which doesn't even make any SENSE. But I'm getting distracted. Ahem.)

Yes, you can use really for real chalk on your nails for this mani. Which is the best thing to use to get that great chalk texture. If you don't have a really careful hand with your topcoat, though, you'll smear the design or erase it entirely.

To get around this, set the chalk with hairspray. THEN apply your matte topcoat to seal it all in.

Alternately, if you've got pastel polish colors -- chalk colors of any sort -- then you can use regular nail polish or nail art pens. Whatever you've got, you can use. You'll lose some of that streaky effect, but you won't have to have chalk on hand.

And that's it for the how-to -- this one really is that simple.

The thing that I keep coming back to with the Ciate kit is that the chalk pens are supposedly something you can wash off in water. I'm curious how well those work and if they'd be available outside of the regular kit. Because I'm curious but I don't know if I'm $40 worth of curious.

And, honestly, I'm not sure I'm convinced by the Chalkboard manicure in general. I love matte black nails. But to get the chalkboard effect, you have to draw things that would go on a chalkboard. I don't even know what that would be other than math at this point. So I took off my chalk marks and stamped a floral pattern instead.

Obviously Ciate is giving people the convenience of having everything, including instructions, in a box. And I think that kind of convenience has a lot of value for some people. I'm definitely not knocking their product.

What do you think of the Chalkboard mani? How do you feel about supply kits that provide the "ingredients" for these sorts of manicures? And what would you write on your Chalkboard nails?

Marianne is talking about nail polish on Twitter: @TheRotund.