Sunday, July 22, 2012

How To: Ziplock bag nail applications/decals

Let me start by saying that I'm far from being an expert at creating nail applications/decals with a ziplock bag, in fact, I haven't messed much with it at all! But this method works for different things, and I figured I'd try it out a bit more and make pictures and write it all down while doing so :)

What you need is a ziplock bag or plastic alike, or as I found out later, oven paper. That works great too! There are some other materials that work as well, see the tips below for more suggestions. Then of course you need polish and top coat, the other materials all depend on what you want to do with it. But here's a bunch of things you could use:

- hole or figure punchers (smaller figure punchers without all the little loose details is what you want, but I don't have those)
- scissors, straight or shaped
- dotting tools
- toothpick or anything else pointy
- nail art brushes
- stripers
- tweezer (not on the picture)

And here are some ideas for what you can do with it!

Dry marble.
For this one I made 2 stripes of polish on the bag and used a toothpick to drag lines between them, then let it dry. You can use it as a full-nail application, but I'm gonna use it to cover my nail partially.
I don't think that mine turned out so well though, so compared to this I'd prefer the look of the regular marbling. But I'm sure that with a bit of practice the result could be a lot nicer, and this is much easier and cleaner for sure!

China Glaze Senorita Bonita and China Glaze Gothic Lolita.

Draw anything you like with polish, and again, let it dry. After it dried you can of course add more colors to it, and let dry again. I think this could be great for making your dominant hand look good as well!
I tried to make some lines with a purple striper, but I don't have much experience with stripers and I ended up with a big blob of polish in the middle, lol. But that's the nice thing, your mani won't get ruined, and you can just start again or do as I did and cut off the excess :)

Funky lines.
You could of course use tape and a (shaped) scissors to create a line on your nails, but if you find taping a bit tricky (especially with shaped lines), I think this works nice! Simply use the polish of your choice on the bag and let dry, then cut it out later.

Essence tip painters Purple Boost and Silver Sparkle, China Glaze IDK and Nubar Hyacinth Sparkle.

What to do next:

When the polish on the bag is completely dry, you can carefully peel the patches off (a tweezer is handy here) and use them as you like (update: please scroll down for pictures of this). I used a hole puncher, a normal scissors and shaped scissors. When you use a hole puncher to make circles, remove the bottom that holds all the punched out circles so your polished circle doesn't get lost between the other circles (realized that just in time, heh).

You can press the patches into slightly wet polish, if your basecolor is already dry you can just use some top coat and press them into the top coat instead. Or when it's warm like it was here today, just place it on your dry mani, it seems the patch gets a bit sticky from the warmth. But take your time with placing them, I noticed they can tear fairly easy when they're a bit stuck to your nail already and you want to move them. After that, add top coat to seal in your design and you're done!

Basecolor is China Glaze Sweet Hook.

Now these were my practicenails, but I think my indexfinger actually turned out great! So I went for a pink version of that on all my nails :)

China Glaze Dance Baby with China Glaze QT.


I wanted to show the peeling off as well, so I made a quick accentnail and took some pics of it. Because I didn't have decent lighting inside yet, I made some of these pictures outside in the sun, and the peeled off polish got a bit wrinkly from the warmth as you can see well on the pic with the scissors. If you do this inside, the peeled off patch will look more like it does where I have it on my hand.
You will always end up with a wrinkly bit on the patch when you use a bag though, that's from starting to peel it off, so always make the patch bigger than your nails.
After sticking it to your nails, press the sides down well, then do a cleanup and apply your top coat.

China Glaze Secret Peri-wink-le with A England Tristam.

A few tips:

- Make sure the polish is applied fairly thick, or if needed, apply several coats. I found that the patch easily tears when peeling it off the bag when it's too thin. If the edges of your patch are thinner, you can cut out a piece of patch with the bag still attached to it, then peel off the polish from that piece of bag to prevent tearing up the edges.

- Make sure the polish really is completely dry. I noticed that the glitters took by far the longest to dry, and I even added a quick-drying top coat to them on the bag. But while the rest was already on my nails, that still wasn't dry! So the circle I created with it didn't turn out perfectly round, I should've waited longer. But I think you could also polish a bag and just leave it to use another day!

- If the application doesn't have clean edges after you applied it to your nail, you can use your regular way of cleanup to fix that. Just make sure you take it easy and use enough remover!

- When applying your top coat, wrap your tips as well so you get a smooth and clean looking result there too. And apply your top coat floating (don't let the brush hit your nail), because as you can see on my middlefinger with the stripes, my application started to smudge a bit there.

- If you want to create little details that aren't attached to each other, start with a coat of clear polish on your bag and make your design on that, so it all comes off in one piece.

- And here's a tip I got in the comments, peeling off the polish is much easier when you use silicone-coated paper (like oven paper), silicone sheet, or the bottom of a silicone cupcake mold instead of a ziplock bag. Thanks for the tip, Chiro! Update: Oven paper indeed works very well for peeling the polish, and a metallic polish that didn't work with a bag worked fine with it!

- Another tip from the comments, runny polishes work best for the dry marbling, and lifting up the plastic and tilting it around works really well. Thanks for the tip, Makeup Withdrawal!

- Nailz Craze shows that instead of a bag or oven paper, you can also use a stamper! It's very similar to the technique above and works good too. In short, you can leave a stamped image on your stamper, color it in, and close it all in with top coat. Then peel it off and apply it to your nails. This way is also nice for practicing fine nail art, you can just hold the stamper in your hand and draw on it, which some of you might prefer over drawing on oven paper or a bag!

- Spektor's Nails uses this technique also for splattered nails, no more messy fingers and too big splatters! 

If you have any other tips, I'd love to hear them! Thanks for looking :)


  1. looks great!!

  2. I agree with Sarah, I think it looks awesome!

  3. Oh my what a great idea! Where did you find the idea of the ziplock patches. I've never seen it but i looove it. I'm gonna try it for sure

  4. I'm using this technique pretty a lot (I'm calling as "polish sheet", it's one of handy way for nail art!
    One thing: I tried pretty many material for base, and think silicone-coated paper (like oven paper) or silicone sheet is way much easier for peeling off. Even only one layer is already enough for peeling, so sheet could be much thinner than that made on plastic bag!
    Actually my best material is the bottom of silicone cupcake mold with a bit rough surface, that 1) rough surface grips polish so easy to spread, and 2) VERY easy to peel off even on thin piece.
    This is my tip, and if you're interested in just please have a look on my blog, you can see some of my examples... :)

  5. They are looking do amazing, i have to try them!

  6. Beautiful post and beautiful idea! Looks really great! :-)

  7. I love this technique! To get a good a good "marble" I've found that choosing really runny polishes works best, and to physically lift up the plastic and tilt it around works really well!

  8. oh my goodness, this is so neat! I'm definitely going to have to try this.

  9. What a creative idea! And as always looks gorgeous on you!

  10. I love how your mani ended up! Im going to go give this a go. Thanks for the hints and tips :)

  11. wow, I never thought of that before, I have to try this, thank you :)

  12. This is SO cool, I love your pink mani!

  13. I've seen other versions of this before, but I think the second version was so clever, especially with the use of holos! It's such a clean and lovely mani!

    Maria /

  14. Thanks for this detailed tutorial! I have tried this method before but couldn't get the design off the bag in the end. After reading your instructions I will give it another try!

  15. Super! Ziet er heel erg mooi uit... Ik heb zelf ook een aantal van die leuke crea bea scharen gekocht een hele poos terug, maar die van mij zijn zo bot lijkt wel :(

    Enig idee hoe ik ze zou kunnen slijpen of iets scherper zou kunnen maken? Ik kom niet eens door scotch tape heen, terwijl ik ze daar eigenlijk voor had gekocht...

  16. Emerald CopperspriteJuly 24, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    It is a brilliant idea for most polishes. But for the holo mani, I would prefer to stick a tape, cut with those scissors, and use it as a marker to paint my nails. Less wastage of holos.

  17. Yep, you have a point there! But with this I'm sure of a crispclean line, with tape I need some more practice for that :)

  18. Ik vroeg me gister eigenlijk hetzelfde af, de schaar die ik toen gebruikte was ook al vrij bot. Mocht ik er iets op vinden dan reageer ik nog wel even extra! :)

  19. I struggled with that as well, but the last tip I added might be worth a try then! I tried oven paper, and a quick test did make it feel a bit easier. Good luck!

  20. Ahh I'm glad to hear that it helped getting this bagthing more known! :)

  21. That's what I thought too! Have fun with it :)

  22. Thanks a lot for the tip, will add it as well!

  23. Thanks a lot for the tip, I've added it to the post! :)

  24. Great post!

  25. Jennius - Gold Speck NailsJuly 28, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Ughhhhhh I love the mani's so much! I've still not tried this technique though.

  26. I did this mani on time and let the polish dry over night. But now I am trying to do it again and it is jest ripping when I let it dry for an hour. So I suggest that you let it dry over night if you have the time.

  27. You should do a video.

  28. I have tried this technique after reading your post and its worked for the most part, but...I have been leaving it to dry overnight, even almost 24 hours and still some polishes don't seem to dry there any one kind that is better than others? I have found that it cuts beautifully though! So happy for the tips. And mine seem to do better on (unwrinkled) wax paper.

  29. I'm not sure if there's polishes that dry better than others, the ones I tried so far all worked fine! But the ones that don't cover well, I let dry in between before applying another coat, perhaps that could help?
    And I agree, paper seems to work better! I'm even considering to remove the ziplock bag part of the title of this post :)

  30. My daughter and I just did this and it was super easy and fun!!! Thanks so much!

  31. I did this today and I LOVE it. I'm going to share my experience on my blog and link you (if you dont mind) because I think everyone should try this it is so much fun! The possibilities are endless!

  32. for me i use the stickers to make designs that are hard for my non- dominant hand. great post!

  33. Nice post and tips. They really help

  34. This whole tutorial has really opened my eyes to all the possibilities! thanks so much.

  35. Can I find that plastic ziplock paper in a cosmetic store? What do I ask for?

  36. Sorry for the bit late reply, but ziplock bags can be found in your grocery stores - at
    least over here :) I found them near the aluminium foil, plastic wrap, oven paper, microwave bags, etc. But if you happen to have oven paper in you house, that works great too!


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