How to: Dry Water Marbled Nails

by Erica Stolman | 20 Comments

Once upon a time, I tried to do a water marble technique on my nails… and it was a complete disaster. Nail polish was all over my fingers, and bubbles caused the actual design to look pretty awful. This was really disappointing to me, because I was quite fond of the look that came with water marbled nails. Using the same technique I did to create my DIY nail decals, I found a simple way to create the water marble nail look without the mess.

dry water marble nail

  • + Supplies: pen or toothpick, small cup filled with water, Ziploc baggies cut into small pieces, and polish. I chose three colors for my marbled look, but you can use as many or as little as you like.
  • + Colors Used: Annette Classic with a Twist, Anne It Girl, Sasha It Girl

dry water marbled nails

  • + Step 1: Start by adding a drop of your first nail polish color and watch it spread in the water.
  • + Step 2 & 3: Next, add a drop of your second and third colors, all in the center of the first drop of color.
  • + Step 4: Using either the tip of a pen or a toothpick, begin to draw your marble. I usually start in the center and pull outward. Get creative with your design and have fun with it, there is no “right” way to do this and all nails will look different.
  • + Step 5 & 6: Grab one of your cut up pieces of Ziploc bag and place it on top of your design in the water, make sure all of it sticks to the plastic. Pull the plastic out of the water, you will now clearly see the design you created.
  • + Step 7 & 8: Place your piece of plastic (design side up) onto a towel and let dry fully. When dried, you should be able to pull your design off of the plastic.
  • + Once you have all your pieces ready (I made 1 piece for each nail), it is time to prep your nails for application. Paint your nails with either a base coat or a color (completely up to you), and when slightly tacky- press your marble sheet onto your nail. To clean up the edges you can cut them off with a small scissors, or use a little nail polish remover! Seal with top coat, let dry, and you’re good to go!

dry water marble nail

+ What do you guys think of my marbled accent nail? I think it turned out pretty cute. Plus, I had leftover marble sheets, which I saved in a plastic baggie for future manicures!

  • Cassie

    This is brilliant! Thank you so much for sharing! I will definitely have to try this! I always avoid Water Marbling because it is so messy and I think that this is the answer to my problem! Once again thank you so much!!!! 🙂

  • Liz

    Too many extra steps for me. When I water marble I coat my cuticles and the skin around my nails with cuticle oil. The polish doesn’t stick and it can be wiped off with a paper towel or kleenex. No mess!

  • Wow! Great tip I will definitely try this next time. For some reason unknown to me when I watch tutorials on water marbling and try to replicate that I always end up with a mess that looks nothing near the look I was going for. With this process I’ll probably be able to get that look!

    • EricaStolman

      Yes! I had the same issue with marbling and this process worked much better for me! Let me know how it turns out!!

  • Jennifer G

    Great Tip I was wondering if this process would work for water-marble. I have hand painted designs on the bags to apply and that worked. I will give this a try.

  • LuciaK

    This is such a fabulous idea, I can’t wait to try this!!! Taping your fingers is time consuming and cumbersome. This eliminates so much of the mess factor, and those annoying bubbles! Thanks for the tip.

  • yvette

    I’m going to try this also.

  • Brittany

    This didn’t work for me at all. The polish just kept sticking together and made a giant mess!! I wasn’t able to do the regular water marble either.

  • delca

    Wow im so doing this tonight!!!!

  • Love it .

  • that’s soo cool i’m so gonna try this thanks for your help!!

  • Such a good idea. I’m always looking for a new way to do my nails, and I think I’ll start making marble patches, today. Thanx for the advice.

  • Rebecca Brewer

    I like the idea of being able to keep some on hand for an accent ot when there isn’t time for a water marble, kinda like keeping meals in the freezer.

  • Krista

    I just did this today! It worked really well. Thanks for the awesome tutorial!

  • Jessmb316

    This is a GREAT idea!!!! Especially if an idea pops into you mind once your nails are finished. Something to save for the next project.

  • Wow that was strange. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

  • Brandi Brennan

    I’ve never been a “girlie-girl” so am just now beginning to get into doing my nails (at age 38). I’ve discovered Julep and love their colors but find I get bored with just “plain” nails and have been searching high and low for unique things to do. This is now at the top of my list!!! For this girl that has just discovered the wonders of nail color, wish me luck (although I don’t think I’ll need it, as you gave very detailed instructions). Again, thanks for not only the inspiration but the steps to make it accessable and do-able to everyone!

    • Sophie

      Hi Brandi,

      We are so excited you are getting into nail art and looking for unique ways to polish your nails. It is never too late to start; now is the perfect time!

      Good luck on marbling, and keep an eye out for some more nail inspiration!


  • Liza Stacy

    Definitely will be trying this!

  • Sara DeWitt

    it didn’t work for me i might as well just buy some plus im not good at art stuff so.