Nail The Week Halloween Special: When Water Marbling Goes Horribly Wrong

Well, it’s nearly Halloween, the night of all things spooky, so allow me to regale you with my very own tale of beauty harrow and horror.

Picture the scene: it was an early autumn wedding, the sort of occasion which warrants an outfit such as this:

Naturally, as my thoughts turned to nail art for the occasion, Barry M’s Gelly Hi Shine in Satsuma and Lychee sprang immediately to mind as they picked out the staple colours of my ensemble perfectly.

The next question was how to incorporate the two colours together into a cohesive, eye-catching nail art design. I’ve been wanting to give water marbling another whirl after the relative success of my Midweek Marblin’ design and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try the technique once again. My biggest concern was that the Gelly polishes wouldn’t spread out on the surface of the water as required for this technique, especially as Lychee seemed very thick when I used it previously. When it came down to it, however, this didn’t seem to be a problem, so I duly continued the water marbling process until my first hand was done. Unfortunately, I quickly realised that the vivid orange hue of Satsuma was extremely overpowering next to the subtle tone of Lychee, to the point where the nails looked almost completely orange, so I had to take off the first attempt and start again, this time with two drops of Lychee for every one of Satsuma. Initially, this seemed to work much better, at least there were discernible colours within my marble, so I continued until both hands were done, and stepped back to admire my (extremely laborious) handiwork…

You know there are times when you’ve been working on something for so long that you kind of stop seeing it and then when you take a break and go back to it with fresh eyes you realise it’s utterly awful? This was one of those moments. The overall effect was one of a nastily infected wound or a septic creature from the bottom of a slime-ridden lake. Worst of all, one the fingers (left index) had marbled in such a way that it looked like the polish was chipped, which is truly unbearable for me.

All in all, it’s fair to say that my second attempt at water marbling was an unprecedented fail.

Luckily, knowing the unpredictable nature of nail art (especially water marbling) I did my manicure the day before the wedding, so I had ample time to acetone away all heinous memory of this misadventure and replace it with a much neater and easier half moon mani using the same two polishes. This is almost identical to my Silver and Satsuma half moon design but with light cream instead of silver to add a matrimonial feel.

The main lessons learnt from this episode are:

1. Never water marble with colours close to those which could occur naturally in the human body. The outcome is very, very creepy.

2. If in doubt, half moon it.

Definitely things to bear in mind for next time.


Nail The Week: Midweek Marblin’!

Finally, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and go for it. Months after first hearing about water marbling nail art I have, on this fine Wednesday afternoon, got round to giving it a whirl (literally). To be honest it was a bit of an impulse move, I entered into it more for experimentation purposes than anything else. Could that snazzy, swirly design really be achievable outside the realms of YouTube? I decided to give it a go with one nail at first. After prepping my nails with two coats of white (it makes the colours pop more, apparently) and taping around the edges to protect the skin and minimise mess (ha ha), I took a mug of tap water which I’d let stand for a couple of hours to ensure that it was room temperature, and dropped in my first polish blob. To my surprise and mild delight, it spread out beautifully, so I continued blobbing in alternate colours until the surface of the water was covered. After that I anchored the polish to the edges of the mug using an orange stick,  then used the stick to swirl the paint into a psychedelic design.

Then it was time to dip. I lined up my nail horizontally with a particularly appealing part of the design and took the plunge. After waiting a few seconds for the paint on the water to dry, I collected it with the orange stick (think the skin on custard) and slowly removed my finger from the water. Well, it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, but essentially, water marbling had worked!

First and foremost

First and foremost.

I decided to go back in with more nails, this time dipping three at once to save both on time and nail paint. Once all the nails were safely dipped, I waited a little while until the polish was touch-dry and removed the tape before cleaning up around the edges with nail polish remover and adding a top coat. Here are the finished results:

My finished first marble!

My finished first marble!

I have to say that I’m pretty pleased with the outcome. The colour selection was somewhat accidental- I just grabbed what was nearest to me, but I think the navy and white works really well, it brings to mind ancient Chinese porcelain! I love how the marbling gives a different, intricate effect on each nail and the overall look is really eye catching. I’ll have to wait and see how the design fairs in terms of durability, but it’s definitely a winner if you want an easily achievable, show-stopping nail look!

Materials used:

A cup of room temperature tap water

Scotch tape

An orange stick (you could also used a tooth pick or an empty ball point pen)

Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat

Matt White and Navy, both by Barry M

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat