Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Water Marbling Hints and Tips

Hints and Tips for water marbling that will hopefully help you out!! Within the next couple of days I will be posting a full tutorial on how to do water marbling.


*Design from this water marble*

Be prepared!! Make sure everything is near you.
Pre-peel tape, have a napkin available to wipe off your toothpick/orange stick, have several toothpicks/orange sticks available, have nail polish remover and Q-tips ready to go, have your base coat ready in case you mess up and need to try again, have a garbage or somewhere to put your used tape.

If you're just starting out, do not use expensive, discontinued, or rare polishes.
I mean, you can, but you may find yourself wasting WAY too much for learning. If it's a polish you don't care about, go for it.

I highly suggest taping off your finger.
Prep the finger you plan to dip prior to dropping polish in the water. If you're experienced with water marbling and know you'll be able to dip two fingers at once, tape off both before you begin. If you're newer at it, start by taping one. If you end up with a design that you are able to dip two fingers in, just let the design sit and tape off your other finger.
Also, if you have your thumb taped off but the design you have in your cup looks like it'll work much better on your pinkie, take the time to tape off your pinkie. The design isn't going anywhere, you have plenty of time.

Make sure you tape off AROUND your cuticle, not onto your nail.
You could end up with a funny shape near your cuticle if part of your nail doesn't have the water marble. It's much easier to clean polish off your cuticle/finger than to redo the entire nail because it looks weird.

Use a cup, not a bowl.
You want the outer most layer of polish to touch the sides of the cup. This helps anchor the polish so when you drag through to make the design, it doesn't spread around.

If the design is not going the direction you like after multiple attempts to save it, you might just have to give up.
It sucks to waste the polish, but ultimately, with the time it takes to water marble, you want the most gorgeous designs on your nails. Don't settle!

Don't start your design at the outer most ring.
The outer most ring tends to dry first. This is a problem because when you go to make your design, if you start dragging from outer layer, it can stick to your toothpick and it can ruin the rings. Make enough rings so when you go to drag through them for your design, you don't start at the outer one. You want to start at least one or two rings in. Think of the outer layer as the anchor.

Warm water is not better.
There's a reason behind using room temperature water. Filtered is preferred. Here's what happens if you use a variation of that:
Unfiltered - depending on where you live, your tap water probably has different minerals. This can cause the polish to not spread as well.
Cold - If you have a Brita filer or something where you keep your filtered water in the fridge, you might be tempted to not wait until it's at room temperature. Cold water can cause the polish to dry quicker, making your design pull and mess up when you try to drag through it. It can also cause your polish to not spread nearly as well as it should.
Warm - So if cold water causes polish to not spread well and the design to stick to your toothpick or orange stick, then warm water must NOT do that, right? Correct. However, warm water has a different issue. It works great for spreading polish, but a couple of problems arise from this. First, if you do not have enough layers of polish in your cup, because warm water is so good at spreading polish, when you make your design, it can cause the polish to "leak" and spread more. The second issue is clean up. Because warm water prevents polish from drying quickly, after you dip your nail and try to clean up the polish before pulling your finger out, the polish will be very difficult to get up and will not stick easily to your toothpick/orange stick because the polish isn't drying.

If you have short nails and/or you're new to water marbling, don't do a lot of colors.
You may see people on YouTube doing tutorials with 5, 6, 7 colors. They're experienced and most have long nails. If you're not an expert, so many colors leaves a greater difficulty for creating a pattern because you want all of the colors to be seen.

Seriously make sure your water surface is clear of polish.
It might be difficult to tell, even with dark colors, that there is enough polish on the surface of the water to not allow polish to spread. I clean up the polish while my nail is in the water, but I also make sure I go over it again before I'm about to drop polish into it. I can't tell you how many times I legit end up pulling out large pieces of polish I hadn't seen.

Be aware of large drops of polish.
You're going to find that some polishes will always drop right off the brush, some will always be difficult, and others are super sneaky and do either/or every time you drop them. Let me explain. When you're doing so many drops of color throughout the entire process, you become complacent and sometimes don't even look at the polish bottle. You just grab the brush and hold it over the water. Many times, a brush decides that it's going to get a HUGE amount of polish on it, so when you pull it out, it surprises you and drips everywhere! Worst of all is when you're on your last set of drops and it smears all over your polish in your cup, potentially ruining it and causing you to start over. Keep an eye on your polish when you take it out of the bottle. It might surprise ya! And not in a good way...

Make sure your workspace is disposable or you're ok with it getting ruined.
Because there is always risk of polish dripping everywhere, bottles tipping over, even the cup spilling, make sure you're doing this on a towel, paper towel, or surface you're ok with potentially getting polish on.

Be conscious of your other nails when you're dipping.
I swear I've done this EVERY time I've water marbled. Sometimes I correct it, other time you'll never see the mistakes in real life, but my macro photos make it look HUGE. Let me give you some examples of what I've done. I'll save the best for last.
I catch a marbled nail on a toothpick or side of the cup and I make a dig in it. Even worse, when I go to dip a nail, I push a marbled nail against another finger and make a HUGE smudge that cannot be saved. My favorite thing I did? I did this only once and it was actually when I was doing my Spring/Easter v1.0. I went to dip my ring finger nail, and just as I went to start cleaning up the polish on the surface, I also dipped my already marbled middle finger into the water/polish. Yup. That was fantastic. And it looked awful. Luckily, I had already top coated it, so I gently went over it with a Q-tip and remover and was able to get up the wet mistake dip and leave my previous marble design. Phew! It looked a little sheer, like you could see my white base a little, but it still looked totally acceptable.

Paint your ENTIRE nail with your base color.
When I paint my nails regularly, I ALWAYS leave a gap between my cuticle and the start of the polish. When it comes to marbling, forget that. Go all the way to your cuticle. I recommend doing this because if you don't, you'll get a sheer patch of marbled polish by your cuticle. And it's much easier to clean up after than have to redo the nail because it looks odd.

Not all polish works.
This is a trial and error process. Just like quality varies from polish to polish, good water marbling polishes vary as well. Generally, the thicker the polish, the worse it'll be in the water. So if it's a gummy kinda polish, it probably won't spread well. However, you can get sheer colors that sink right to the bottom and don't even spread at all. You just have to experiment. But be aware that just because you tried 5 different polishes from the brand and they didn't spread well, it does NOT mean all polishes from that brand are like that. Judge based on the specific polish, not the brand. I will warn you, however, that every single matte polish I have tried has NOT worked. Let me know if you find one that does, but I've tried mattes from Zoya, Ulta, OPI, and Nicole by OPI all with no success. They might spread the first or second ring, but after that you're just adding blobs to the water.

Do NOT blow on your nails, do NOT shake them.
You may be tempted to do this when your nails come out of the water. Please don't! This can cause bubbles or even mess up your design. Just let it air dry.

Take your time and be patient.
You can do it :) It just takes practice!!

104 comments:

  1. Do you know of W7, Stargazer and La Femme nail polish brands work on water marbling?

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  2. @Natalia - I haven't used any of those polish brands, but like I mentioned above, you've just got to experiment :) And it depends on the specific polish, not the brand.

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    1. Then how can I know which nail polish to buy for water marbling?

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    2. jst make sure its consistency is thin and it doesnt dry quick!

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    3. I use the LA Colors found at the dollar store. In my experience, the cheaper the polish, the better.. I talked to my manicurist and she suggested if the polish is too thick to thin with straight acetone (not remover)

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    4. Absolutely do NOT use acetone!! This can destroy your polish, I can't believe a manicurist gave you this wrong information. You need to use nail polish thinner, do not EVER use remover or acetone. Here is what can happen:
      http://lacquerlaine.blogspot.com/2009/12/laines-favorite-blue-nail-polish-and.html

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  3. Thank you, that was exactly what I needed to know. Now I feel ready to try this.

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  4. when i do it it creats a buble on the nail.. y is this so?

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  5. I have this great idea for water marbling you guys: if you're running out of a color you want to use in your marble design this tip is perfect for you!! You paint your nail the color your running out of. Then instead of using that color in the water, use a clear and your second color. For example, I wanted to do orange and white marble but I was running out of orange. So I use the orange as a base coat. Then instead of alternating with orange and white in the water, I alternate with white and the clear. Then I make the design I want and voilĂ ! You have an awesome design!!

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  6. i have tried this serveal times and no matter how many tutorials or 'dos and donts' i watch/read i still cant get this right. my problem is it is way too thick when i dip my nail. i have tried filtered water thats cold, room temp, warm, and warmer... i have also tried different polishes. what am i doing wrong?

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    1. same here! :(

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    2. Everytime I do it. The nail polish just ends up a huge blob on my finger :(

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    3. I have never had a problem with it being too thick unless it just clumped up. Room temp water is the way to go, and if yours is too thick, maybe just a little warmer than that. The polish should be spreading and if it's not, switch polishes and find one that does. You only want ONE drop off of the brush. Don't pour it in, don't get a ton on your brush and just let it drip all over the water. You just need one drop off polish off the brush. Good luck!

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  7. i tried it already but the nail polish wont work i used petites is the brand and it does work

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  8. I have read and tried water marbling once, and its soooo much fun!!!!! Except I don't have any toothpicks and my mom won't buy me any and I don't have enough money of my own to buy any. I do not want to help around the house for money!!! Is there anything you can use instead of a toothpick??????????

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    1. toothpicks are so cheap and you could get a whole lot of them in just a box...
      No worries, you could use sharp stuffs like needles safety pin or any item that has sharp ends:D

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    2. there something called a dollar store... wow

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    3. you can also use the tip of a pencil, but be careful because sometimes the lead will show up in your paint and you'll have grey streaks. just remember to keep wiping it off on a paper towel. :) GOOD LUCK

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    4. Maybe you could use the end of a bobby pin?

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    5. Bobby pins don't work tooth pick sewing needle

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    6. I have used paper clips instead of tooth picks.. unben them and you have 2 in one.

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  9. From the same person about the toothpick problem: popsicle sticks DO NOT work. Ughhhh!!!!!

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  10. You can use anything that has a super pointy end on it. You dont necessarily have to use a toothpick. I use a needle.

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  11. Thanks for the help!!!!!!

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  12. its not working :(

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  13. just tried this.. worked amazingly! ... once i worked out what polishes do and dont work

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  14. Do you know how bottled water would work? We don't have a water filter and I don't want to buy one just for trying out water marbling. :/

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    1. Bottled water is cheap tho. Give it a try

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  15. She said she used DASANI.. which is BOTTLED.

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  16. Thank you ooh! love this!

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  17. Thanks this really helped me out :)

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  18. CAN I DESIGN WITH A NEEDLE INSTEAD OF A TOOTHPICK????????????


    SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME
    THANKS :P

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  19. A needle should work ok. It might be too thin at first, but once polish starts to stick to it, it should work ok.

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  20. I've used like 12 different colors from Sinful Color but it keeps just falling to the bottom... any recomendations?

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    1. Sometimes when it sinks to the bottom you're droping it from too high.

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    2. the polish is to thick, get a more water-based polish.. or maybe the water is too cold

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  21. What kind of water are u using

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  22. I luv luv luv doing this! And my friends r amazed! They have me do their nails and they turn out better then mine! :D

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  23. Everytime I try this, my first ring dries before I get get my second drop in. any suggestions?

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  24. my first color spreads but the rest of the colors just stay at the middle

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  25. What happens if your first 2 drops spread but the other ones don't spread at all?????

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    Replies
    1. Try lightly tapping the outside of the glass it will help spread the colors more

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  26. bt i get only 2-3 layers in water.... why so?? :(

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  27. I have attempted this about 10 times and nothing has worked I thinks it's because I'm not using good water but then I tried with filtered water and bottled water I still failed at this but my nail polish is spreading just fine but it all seems to dry before I can use my toothpick and it's not like I'm letting it dry! Please help. Thanks!

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  28. My first layer spreads but not my other ones! Even my 2nd layer doesn't spread. Why is thaaaat! I tried it with my pinky nail and it worked just fine but not it won't work anymore

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  29. I am having the same problem. I drop the first drop and it spreads just fine, the second drop just sits there. I tried dragging it through, but all the polish just sticks to the tooth pick. What do we do?

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  30. I'm having the Same problem I have no idea What to do about it , it looks so easy

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  31. I am also having a similar problem. I cannot ever make the nail polish spread. I use Sally Hensen, China Glaze, and Sinful Colors. What am I doing wrong?

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    1. I've actually did not use China Glaze.

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    2. i dont know, lol

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  32. When i do the first ring, its totaly fine, sometimes the second one is good, too, but then the rest kind of go out, just a little bit more, so i try to drag it, but the first ring creates a weird film, so i end up just winding it around the toothpick. i tired using watery nail polishes, and it did the same exact thing. and then i tried using thicker, kind of older polishes,same results. HELP

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    1. So Its ALL about the type of nail polish you use.
      -First, make sure your water is filtered & room temp.
      -Second,This same exact thing happened to me,if you use a thin nail polish it will just fall to the bottom,but if you use a thick one it won't spread.
      Try a bunch of different nail polishes till you find a few that work.

      Tip #1: I know a few that work
      China glaze: peachy keen
      ELF: lilac
      OPI: Whats with the cattitute?
      OPI: Garangataun green grape


      Tip #2: Try dragging form the inside instead of the outside.

      Tip #3: Shake the bottle real well before you use it!

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    2. I noticed that some colors don't spread inside of others try changing the order of the colors instame @designedbykenya

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  33. Got the same problem as you guys. From the second or third drop it doesn't spread anymore. Also I can only get 2 or 3 nails right and for the rest all the colours just blend into one big mess =(
    I do everything just the same as with the nails that do work, so I'm confused here.

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    1. You can shake the cup a lil bit to help the rings spread. Use non-fast drying polishes and don't drop from too much a height.
      Also, if you have a draft or air con, the nail polish will dry too soon and stick to the toothpick.
      I've tried marbling a few times. And it worked the first time just perfectly and the next 5 times I failed dismally. But I kept going back to it and I keeps working from time to time.
      Orly and OPI polishes I have worked quite well for me. Rimmel was bad and so was cheap thick stuff I got in a sale.

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  34. If you have a nail polish that doesn't spread well or clumps , you can add a drop or two of nail polish remover to the polish to thin it out, works great. Some of the best results I've had came from Sally Hansen 60 second dry..I'm working with OPI tonight and having issues, but I think it's my water, usually it's filtered but every week our filter back flushes to clean ( it did this last night) now the polish won't spread.

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    1. I boil water, pour it into water bottles and then you have a good supply of water. It has to sit at least overnight to get to room temperature. And I just boil regular tap water.

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  35. I want to do this so badly...none have worked. I can get the first or second drops, sometimes the third to spread nicely then all the others just pool in the middle and won't spread. It seems as though the whole thing becomes a skin on the top of the water. I've tried using Sinful Colors, Nicole by OPI, China Glaze, and even some cheapie no name polished my nieces had since they were super thin, but none of them have worked :(

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  36. what brand of nail polish works with this nail design?

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    1. Pure ice you can get it at Walmart 1.99 every color i have tried has worked sally hansen some sinful brands work but if there is too much shimmer they smell weird and don't work

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  37. Omg this is frustraiting, ive been using ulta every time and it doesnt work, i always thought i was doing something wrong.

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  38. Hi I am a kid and i think that it would be TOTALLY awesome to TRY water marbling and i have no clue of what brand of nail polish would be best for water marbling.

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    1. I heard china glaze works really well, but i've personally never tried it.

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  39. i am having the same problem as all of the above...i think the main question is...What specific brands of nail polish work the best.

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    1. Its all trial and error. Use what you have and see if any of it works. I just bought a bunch of cheap polish from NYC and all of them work. Its really not the price of the polish that determines how it works.

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  40. I recommend getting your polishes together without attempting to marble your nails just to see which brands/ shades work best. That saves A LOT of time rather sitting down to actually marble and the polish isn't working. So far, Nicole by OPI worked best. Essie was too thick, orly spread but the second drop did not. Same with Revlon

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  41. I'm having a problem with water marbling. Ive tried it dosens of times but i can never find the right type of water to use. The nail varnish spreads but only a small amount so when i try to use the tooth pick it all ends up as a big blob and looks messy. Please Help!

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  42. I have the same problem with it not spreading, i have tried warm water, cold water, filtered wated non filtered water, I have put remover in my polish, I have done this a number of times and only had worked a few times, I have tried all polish from 7 dollars a bottle to 1 dollar a bottle and after the second drop it stops spreading, also I have found that a cup dnt work for me and neither does a small bowl I got a medicine cup from my job and that seems to work to best for me!! Any suggestions on how to make it spread better????

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    1. It doesn't always spread as much as you would like so drag from the inside circle out, but stop before the last ring. That should work!

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  43. I absolutly love doing this. I have a problem with the sinful colors though. Every color from this brand seems to dry in the water almost instantly. They have some pretty colors that i would love to use but am not sure what to do in this case. Any ideas would be helpful.

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  44. i think sally hansen polishes spread pretty well

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  45. This is a GREAT post!! I'll try it tomorrow. Very good and easy tips. Than you soooo much!
    nailistas

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  46. ok as far as polish brands, i went out and bought some cheap NYC brands and even wet n wild, they are about 1.00 each at walmart and work great....i use room temp distilled water...and a shot glass size cup...i also use a needle instead of a toothpick and start from the center of bullseye that is created with the polishes. DONT start from the edge cuz the polish will just stick to the needle or toothpick ur using. and dont put more than 3-4 drops of polish cuz then it gets too thick and wont dry properly. hope this helps!!

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  47. Hello ,I'm also new in water marbling and i noticed it 2 days ago.I was leaded here when I was looking for brands that might work the best..I used room temperature tap water that as i saw isn't the ideal but should work.Some polish don't spread at all,and some others spread but no matter what i do after 2-3 drops polish stops spreading,and some times dry to easy.Maybe because is winter humidity is up and prevents this work properly or my polishes are totally wrong? need some help here i really like it.:)

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  48. What clear works best in between colors? All the clears I have tried dry up immediately. I do know that you cannot use a fast drying polish.

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  49. My nails come out great, and I have no problem with the technique, however after about 8-10 hours the polish is chipping from my nails. I am using base and top coats. What could be the reason for this?

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    1. Its super thin! Whenever I do my nails ( which is atleast once a week) I wrap my nails with 2+ coats of top coat.

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  50. I have used NY COLOR and SINFUL COLORS with great results. If some of you have problems with it falling to the bottom you could have the brush to high above the water. I have dropped to high and it sinks right to the bottom. I ususally give a few centimeters :-)

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  51. I thought this would be a great project to try with my 11 year old daughter and her friend when she was having a sleepover one weekend. When I dropped the nail polish into the water it looked fine until I tried to swirl them with the toothpick. The nail polish was like plastic and immediately clung to the toothpick and would not swirl at all. If you could five me a way to avoid this or tell me exactly what brand of nail polish you DID use, it would be a tremendous help. Thanks so much for making a girl be so much fun ;)

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    1. This will probably sound wierd but you should try love and beauty by forever 21. It works greak for me! Now i just have to keep trying so it looks like something lol

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  52. I have the streak nail desighn polish and for some reason it wont spread or stick right.! Why is that.!?

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    1. When polish doesn't spread just try shaking the cup a little and it should spread if not then make sure you are using water at room temperature or try bottled or filtered water. Hope this helps you :)

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    2. y my 2nd layer dont spread just as 1st layer

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  53. Mine worked perfectly fine at the first attempt. I used L'OREAL polish and it was great.

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  54. Does sally Hanson extreme, Revlon, or sinful colors work?

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  55. Everytime I water marble my nails and apply a clear top coat it always streaks my design even after letting them dry. How can i prevent this or am i using the wrong clear coat? Is this happening with anyone else? Im using wet n wild clear polish.

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    1. I found that if you apply just a really big glob of clear nail polish and then spread it with only a couple of strokes, it doesn't disturb the design underneath as much. You must have used too thin a coat, and so the brush messed the coat beneath it. Hope I could be of help!

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  56. mine worked out great

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  57. Replies
    1. It can. I always try to use a cup that is somewhat smaller. This helps anchor the polish to the side of the cup. Just make sure it's large enough for you to easily get your nail (or a couple of nails at the same time) into.

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  58. does my first coat always have to be white

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  59. does my first coat always have to be white

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    1. Of course not! You can use any color you like! :)

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  60. Everytime I try doing watermarble, the polish that comes off just goes into a little ring, it does not spread out like it should.. what am I doing wrong?

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    1. I had the same problem, I found out I needed to leave the water in the room longer. I waited a few hours, then it was ready for me to use and it worked awesome!

      Also I don't use tape, I use Vaseline, it works really well and just wipes off. I think it's a lot easier to use.

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  61. I need recommendations on other polishes I can try, I usually use sinful colors but sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I'm not looking to spend more that 2.50 per bottle. I usually catch the sinful colors when it goes on sale at Walgreens for.99, but now I want to try another brand. what do you recommend?

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  62. I need help this is my first time trying the watermarble designs and no matter how many drops I put in or less I'm not getting any good results. I've tried cold warm room temperature not so warm temperature distilled water, even tap water I still get a mess where am I going wrong. Please help with advice.

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  63. I am new to this and know sometimes you want to know what will work and then play around after being a little successful. I tried last night with tap water and opi. it was a no go. This morning after reading this I used distilled water and sinful colors and spoiled and it worked! The rest was operator error, but I ended up finally with 2 acceptable nails. Thanks for the help!

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  64. I love your samples; they are stunning! My favorite is using the clear polish with glittery items (stars, hearts, etc.), on black glossy paper. If you have a dollar store nearby, you can usually find lots of polish choices there. One of my students learned to make a heart on top of her coffee and it worked with polish too. I've never tried wood veneer and can't wait to see the effect. Thanks for the new ideas.

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  65. Every time I get the rings down I go to stick the toothpick in to make the design and every time the polish sticks to the toothpick. What do I do?

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  66. I meant to write "Their" :)

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