DIY Nail Polish Strips

It’s pretty obvious we are big fans of nail polish strips/appliques/etc around here. Sally Hansen Salon Effects are my favorite, but I also quite like the OPI appliques as well as others. The ones I like the best do have one thing in common; they are always made from real nail polish and are not just stickers.

Between loving real nail polish strips and my eternal desire to try a splatter manicure (and not have to deal with the clean up…) I finally decided to give making my own polish strips a try.

The way I went about making these polish strips was a combination of a gazillion tutorials I’ve seen for this over the years. For an entire tutorial check below the jump!


What you need:

  1. A plastic sandwich bag
  2. Nail polish. Obviously you can do any design you want. I used Maybelline Black Onyx, Essie No Place Like Chrome and Orly Rage.
  3. A top coat

How to make the strips:

  1. Use your base color and paint strips on the plastic bag about the width of your nail and significantly longer than your current nail length. Make sure the strips are far enough apart so they can later be cut into individual strips.
  2. If you are going to do a design add that. I did a splatter design. This involved dipping a cocktail straw into No Place Like Chrome and Rage then blowing air into the straw to create the splatter effect.
  3. Let the nail polish dry for several hours. I let mine dry overnight. Just don’t let the strips go too long without using them otherwise the polish will entirely dry out.
  4. Cut the design into individual nail polish strips.



  1. Apply one coat of the base color to your nails. Let dry at least partially.
  2. One at a time carefully peel the polish away from the plastic.
  3. Line up one end with the cuticle and press down in the middle of the nail moving from the cuticle to the tip. Then do the same for each side.
  4. File off the excess with a nail file.
  5. Apply a top coat (making sure to wrap the tips)

Turns out this was fun to do and alot easier than I thought it might be. I love the result (even though my nails do kind of look like my kitchen counter….) and of course the possibilities are endless!

This is also a great solution for those of you that have trouble doing nail art with your non dominant hand 🙂

As far as wear goes…this wears slightly better than normal polish though nowhere near as long as what you get from store bought polish strips.

They are easily removed with normal polish remover.





20 responses to “DIY Nail Polish Strips

  1. Brilliant!!! SO going to try this! Thanks!

  2. This is great – I had only seen in passing some incomplete things on putting polish on plastic bags but seemed to miss all the points needed. I had kind of thought at first it was to then kind of pick up the plastic bags when the polish was wet and sponge those on your nails! Thanks so much for taking the mystery out of this for me. I need to try it – I have like many folks – zillions of bottles of polish – and like you, I like the strips but only the ones that are the real polish and they get to be really expensive so I have not let myself really used them a lot. If I can make my own then I can get through some of the zillion bottles of polish I have here and also get the spatter mani look without all the mess. I think I saw some designs used for this with a look like water marbleing too. Maybe I will get some of these going so they are ready to try when this now mani I have needs changing out. I cannot believe how long my current mani has lasted – I topped it with a good coating of the gold flake/foil 18K OPI topper Man With A Golden Gun and I got more than 7 days wear out of it!!!! I did fix the tip wear about 3 times on the mani and dabbed a little more of the gold topper on – and I think this is a huge hit with me now that is if my next tries with it will give me 9-10 days wear!!!

    • That is my problem. I have so much nail polish that even as much as I love the nail polish strips I hate to buy them because I already have so much polish!

      That’s great about THMWTGG!

  3. Am bookmarking this page so I can come back to it if I don’t have the whole thing down pat after doing it a couple times…cannot wait to get back from my day long of appointments today so I can try this!

  4. This is pretty darn dope DV! *bookmarks*

  5. Wow, this is impressive!

  6. Thank you so much for posting this tutorial! I just tried this and the result is amazing 😀 I can’t believe how easy it is. This is how I’m going to do nail art from now on. It takes care of several problems for me – I don’t have to wait forever for all the different layers to dry, I can just paint another strip if I mess up a design, and my right hand can look just as good as my left 😛

    Oh, I can’t wait to try stamping with this too! I have such a hard time getting the perfect stamp image over the curve of my nail 😦 I wonder how long you can leave the strips on the plastic before it gets too dry to be pliable? because I would LOVE to have ready-to-use strips for traveling. Anyway, thanks so much! I love this!!!

    • I’m so glad you gave it a shot!

      \Unfortunately, they dry out pretty quickly. If you turned the bag inside out and zipped it up they might last a bit longer.

  7. I love this post… I actually did this for my nail art since I cannot draw with my left hand! Instead of using saran wrap/plastic, I used parchment paper. I found it dried pretty quickly with a fast dry top coat and slid off the paper quite easily 🙂 This is the look I created with the same technique 🙂

  8. Pingback: China Glaze Real Nail Polish Appliques Cherry Blossoms | The Daily Varnish

  9. Pingback: Nail Art: Top 10 of 2012 (+ top DIYs!) | The Daily Varnish

  10. I’m definitely putting this down as one of my summer activities! This is brilliant! Awesome job girl! ❤

  11. Pingback: Nail Art How-to: DIY Nail Decals – College Fashion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s