How to Make Swirl Nail Polish

by Grace Williams

The manicure technique called water marbling results in a colorful swirled pattern on nails. While the nails will all match in color scheme, each nail will have its own unique swirl pattern. Experiment with different color combinations, ensuring that you don't select nail polish shades that are too close in color to each other. Select polishes that have a medium thick formula for the best results. This technique requires practice to master the process.

Items you will need

  • Cotton swabs
  • Nail polish remover
  • Base coat nail polish
  • Small, wide cup
  • 3 to 4 nail polish colors
  • Sewing needle
  • Top coat
Step 1

Moisten a cotton swab with nail polish remover. Rub the swab across bare nails to ensure they're clean and smooth. Pat dry and apply a layer of base coat nail polish to each nail.

Step 2

Fill a small, wide bowl almost full with water, leaving a 1/2 inch gap at the top. Line up the three to four nail polishes you want to use near the bowl as you need to work quickly. Unscrew the lids but keep the brushes sitting in the polish bottles.

Step 3

Create a small dot on the surface of the water using the first nail polish brush. Create dots with the other colors, in succession, working fast. Place each new color along the edge of one of the original dots so they are all gathered together in the center of the cup.

Step 4

Use a sewing needle to drag the colors toward and through each other, swirling them together to form a pattern. Work quickly but use caution in not blending the colors too much.

Step 5

Lower your nail into the polish design, with the nail facing down towards the water. Press through the design with the nail, allowing the polish to adhere. Keep your finger in the water and use the needle to push the excess polish on the surface away from your hand.

Step 6

Remove the finger from the water. Moisten a cotton swab with polish remover and use it to clean up any polish that stuck to the skin. Allow polish to dry for two to three minutes then apply a top coat nail polish.

Step 7

Repeat Steps 1 to 6 with remaining nails.


  • Use a white polish as a base coat to help the swirled colors stand out even more. Place Scotch tape on the areas of your finger near the nail before submerging it into the polish to make cleanup easier.