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Tutorial: Water spotted nail art technique

Kara Endres is a graphic designer, illustrator and fashion blogger based in south Florida. She showcases her DIY skills on her blog, Sprinkles in Springs, as well as shopping guides, trends, fashion inspiration, illustrations, and nail a...

Use acetone and water for this nail design

This technique creates a cool water spotted effect on nails. Mix contrasting colors for a stronger design, or similar shades for a more subtle effect.

Water spotted nails

Water spotted nails


  • Navy polish
  • Metallic green polish
  • Jar of lukewarm water
  • Paper towel
  • Stiff paintbrush or old toothbrush
  • Acetone or hairspray
  • Scotch tape
  • Toothpicks

Water spotted nails



Begin with a metallic green base coat. This will be the color of the 'water spots.' Tape off the area outside of the fingernail for easy cleanup (or remove excess polish with a cotton swab and nail polish remover).

Water spotted nails


Drop 2 to 3 drops of navy polish onto the surface of the water. (Don't drop from too high or the polish will sink to the bottom.) Dip your brush in acetone and flick it with your finger over the polish like you would do for splatter painting. It should create a cool burned out effect on the polish.

Water spotted nails

Water spotted nails


Decide which area of the pattern you want on your nail and dip the nail in that area, making sure to dip it in parallel to the water's surface to pick up the design well. While the finger is submerged, use a toothpick to collect the extra polish from the surface. Repeat for each finger.

Water spotted nails


When all the fingers are done, remove the tape and clean up any extra polish from your fingertips. Give it a top coat and you're done.

Water spotted nails

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