DIY: Super Cheap and Super Easy 3D Nail Art

I went for two looks: underwater mermaid goddess and princess party girly girl. Feel free to come up with weird titles for your own creations as well.
Publish date:
July 26, 2012
nail art, beauty, nails, 3D nails

Yesterday, as I was basking in the afterglow of viewing my first published xoJane post, my head started swirling with possible beauty tutorials. I was scrolling through my mental Rolodex of movie stars, musicians and style icons to my wee heart’s content.

No Doubt was already on my mind (what with their big return and whatnot), so I started thinking about Gwen Stefani and recalled that Harajuku phase Dear Gwen had when I was a greasy high schooler. Then my mind jumped to the Phaidon Fresh Fruits book I coveted way back when and still have on display in my apartment right now! Combine colorful, layered, plastic style and my fondness for fake nails and a light bulb went off. Why not make 3D Harajuku nails and teach xoJaners how to make their own?! Or, if you’re a lazy glamazon here are some premade ones on Etsy.

Honestly though, this whole process was kind of cheap and simple. It cost 17 bucks, took a few hours tops, and let’s be real, it was way more productive than what I’ve been doing most days, wasting hours away watching Buffy and fast-forwarding to the Spike love scenes.

So let’s get crafting! You’ll probably need to make a pit stop to your local crafting store. I prefer Michael’s or even Hancock Fabrics, which are the stores closest to me and surprisingly carry a lot of charms and gems that work well for this project. I went for two looks while I was shopping: underwater mermaid goddess and princess party girly girl. Feel free to come up with weird titles for your own creations as well.

Another essential element is Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue. I used a toothpick-like object I found in my kitchen to get the glue onto the beads and various nail ornaments I gathered, which made it more manageable. Then I just plopped the gluey decorations on some tried and true Kiss brand fake nails and let those suckers air dry for a while! I left them alone overnight and revisited them in the morning, adding beads and plastic stars here and there.

As for those trinkets and ornaments? I used rhinestones, small fabric beads, tiny fabric roses and bows, and halved pearls Hancock sold with adhesive on the other side. You might want to use tweezers to get the smaller rhinestones and beads stuck on there, though, especially if you have unsteady hands.

Are we getting the mermaid vibes, people?

Gettin' all Phaidon Fresh Fruits with my colorful Fresca!

Voila! It's as easy as that! Hardly any fuss, so you don't have to feel bad about ruining them on a particularly rambunctious night out.

One final note: If you crafting goddesses out there wouldn't mind taking a challenge, I would love to see some creations utilizing googly eyes, buttons, figurines, crosses, and whatever other little gothic knick-knack you happen to come upon. A more twisted and dark interpretation of the girly Harajuku norm would be sick, right?! Right! If there are any takers, email me your creations at! I’d love to don some of those bad boys around the fall time and Halloween.