How to Create a Marble Nail Design Using Water

by Contributor ; Updated September 28, 2017

Prep your nails with a base coat before you apply your marble design.

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You can create your very own marble nail design by dropping nail polish onto water, dragging a point through the circles of polish and then inserting your nail. The swirled nail polish will adhere to your nail, giving you a marble design right on your nail. You can use your marble nail design on your natural nails or on acrylic nails. This project can be very messy, so cover your work surface with old towels or newspaper before you begin. If you are applying the design to your natural nails, files nail, apply a base coat and let it dry. Cover the skin around your nails with tape or cuticle oil to simplify cleanup. If you are using acrylic nails, apply double-sided tape to the end of a pencil and stick the nail on the tape.

Items you will need

  • Nail polish
  • Top coat
  • Cuticle stick
  • Disposable cup
  • Nail polish remover
  • Cotton swabs
  • Pencil
Step 1

Pour room temperature water into a disposable cup, almost to the top. Open all bottles of polish and place them within reach. Use at least three colors that have a bit of contrast. For example, use a pale shade, a dark shade and a medium shade.

Step 2

Drop one or two drops of polish onto the surface of the water. The nail polish should spread out and make a circle on the water. If it drops to the bottom without creating a circle on the surface, try a different nail polish. This color is your base color for the marble effect, meaning it will show the most.

Step 3

Drop one or two drops of your second color of nail polish on top of your base color. It should create a smaller circle on top of your base color.

Step 4

Continue with each color that you would like to add to the effect. You can use many colors or you can use only two or three colors, repeating each color at least once in the same order.

Step 5

Drag the tip of a cuticle stick through the circles of polish to create the marble effect. Begin at the center and drag the tip toward the outer edge. Reverse this for more swirls.

Step 6

Insert your nail. The nail polish will adhere to your nail.

Step 7

Remove nail from water. Remove tape or use nail polish remover and cotton swabs to clean up any excess polish. Repeat Steps 1 through 7 for each nail.

Step 8

Apply top coat and let dry.


  • Using high quality polish that is not quick-dry. Quick-dry polish will not sit on the surface of the water.
    If you make a mistake, clean the surface of the water by dragging your cuticle stick or pencil through the water. The nail polish will adhere to the pencil, leaving the water clear so you can try again. Work quickly so the nail polish will not dry before you insert your nail.


  • This method can take a while to master, so be prepared to go through a lot of nail polish.

Photo Credits

  • Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images