DIY Gold Flake Top Coat

Thanks to OPI Man With the Golden Gun gold flake top coats are suddenly all the rage. Granted, OPI isn’t the only brand with a gold flake top coat. Sephora by OPI and Zoya have both released their own versions. And while each company’s top coat is slightly different they are all fairly expensive. OPI’s version is $30 and has become quite difficult to find for alot of people.

I, for one, was not willing to drop $30 on a top coat I was sure I’d rarely use. Due to this I begin to think about doing a DIY version. My grandmother was a gold leaf nut. She would gold leaf anything! As I kid I would play with the gold leaf sheets. They were so flimsy and would literally stick to anything. I figured, hey, that might work for my DIY top coat.

If you caught my tweet then you know I hit up my local Michaels. Between the DIY caviar and velvet manicures I’m becoming quite familiar with the place. I spent $6.99 on the supplies for my DIY gold flake top coat and absolutely love the result!

Now, I will say there is a learning curve to this technique (if you will….) and the first time I did it I was frustrated and it was time consuming. But now that I’ve had a little practice I can do it easily and quickly.

Below the jump there is an entire DIY including what supplies are needed and tips on what to avoid doing so hopefully you won’t make the same mistakes I did!

What you need:

  1. A sheet of gold leaf. I actually used copper leaf because yellow gold looks terrible with my particular skintone but if you’re trying to replicate the OPI top coat get the gold leaf sheets.
  2. Tweezers
  3. A base coat
  4. A nail polish of your choice for a base color. Try to avoid fast dry nail polishes.
  5. A top coat

How to:

  1. Tear your gold leaf sheet in about half. You will not use near that much gold leaf but better to have more available than needed.
  2. Apply a base coat and one coat of the nail polish of your choice.
  3. Apply a second coat of polish to one nail.
  4. Tear a small piece of gold leaf off the sheet using tweezers. Be careful not to touch the gold leaf with any of your nails as it will stick!
  5. I found the best way to give the gold leaf that flakey look was to rub the small piece between my fingers.
  6. Then once the nail polish on the nail your working is no longer wet but slight tacky, press the gold leaf into the nail.
  7. Continue with that process until you are happy and apply a thick layer of top coat.
  8. Repeat on your other nails.

I promise once you get the hand of this it is so easy!

Here are some thing to avoid doing:

  1. Don’t use pieces that are too large. The first time I did this I thought I was using small enough pieces but as it turns out they were significantly too big.
  2. Gold leaf will stick to almost dry nail polish. So don’t think you have to work particularly fast.
  3. Do not try to tear the gold leaf with your hands once you’ve started painting your nails. It will end badly! Gold leaf it quite attracted to nail polish. Using tweezers will prevent this problem.
  4. Apply a top coat after you finish working on every nail. If the nail polish dries without a top coat the gold leaf might flake off.

If you have any questions I’ll try my best to answer. But just giving it a shot yourself and practicing will do alot of good!



Polishes used in this post: Finger Paints Tiffany Imposter and Orly Star of Bombay


16 responses to “DIY Gold Flake Top Coat

  1. I’m so happy you did this! I love the look I just was not looking forward to spending the $$. This is the perfect solution, awesome tutorial as usual.

  2. Looks great. I read where another blogger tried using gold leaf from the craft store and it dissolved into the top coat on her. I had pre-ordered 3 bottles of the OPI Man With A Golden Gun from a lady I know who has a license…I got each bottle for $12…I took a chance as I hated the one OPI for Sephora that came out this past summer. Heard someone say that was now on sale (if you can find it) for $8/bottle…it was not like the others – it was like glitter in my book when I played with that Sephora one. But Man With a Golden Gun I am addicted to and I am soooo not a nail art or topper gal most of the time. By a total fluke I got the Zoya Guilty set too before it sold was in my shopping cart and I was in a hurry and sent my order in without taking it out. I think the Zoya has larger pieces. But now seeing yours having worked I will see what the price is at our craft store. Maybe I will sell my other non opened bottles. Oh and Jessica (brand) polish has a 18kt that is coming out ASAP as well. I think we will see a zillion and 1 of these that other companies release and figure out a way to get the look from a material like Mylar that is gold colored and not have to charge the high $$ for the product. I cannot wait for someone to do the gold leaf in a rose gold and also would like to see a platinum as well.

    • I saw where Jessica was throwing their hat into the ring. I just don’t see this as something I would use often plus it’s fun to tell people you did it yourself when they ask about your nails!

      I wonder if the blogger who had a problem with the gold leaf dissolving tried to suspend the gold leaf in a clear polish? I thought about doing that but was worried the gold leaf would ball up or there would be some other kind of problem.

      Michaels had silver and gold leaf along with the copper leaf I used. I’m definitely considering going and picking up the silver leaf!

  3. Wow!!! Thank God you have posted a DIY tutorial on this because I really didn’t want to pay $30 on a bottle of top coat!!! Apparently there is real 18k+ gold leaf available out there but somewhat expensive. Do you know if they sell Real gold leaf at micheals???

    Your nails look fabulous. xo

    • I didn’t see any of the real 18K gold leaf at Michael’s but I wasn’t really looking for it either.

      If they don’t have it at Michaels I’m sure you could find it on Amazon!

  4. I just love your DIY posts! I’ve gotta try this one. Super cheap after the Michaels coupon =) I can’t wait for your next one.

  5. I’ve been doing my nails for a long time and have gotten very good at it – I like to post reviews, also. But the one thing I can never offer my readers is a detailed manicure, because I shake too much from my hypoglycemia. I love your take on this, but I would never be able to keep my hands steady to do it. I live in NYC, and we have a lot of hole-in-the-wall shops all over the place. I was able to grab Man with the Golden Gun for $16, so I had no problem buying it. $30, however, is too much.

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