Tutorial: Water Marbling

Yello! Good news: Got my laptop fixed. Bad news: My files remained in limbo. Anyway, I'll be posting more often now that my laptop's back.

I'm back with a nail tutorial for you! All this talk of nail swirling on Caronia's FB fan page made me try out water marbling once again. I've tried it about a couple of times before but failed in all the attempts because the polishes I used didn't spread out in the water. Anyway, I found out that some Caronia shades work well for water marbling so I gave it another try! Glad I did :)

On my first successful attempt in water marbling, I ended up with this design.

Smudged a bit because I applied top coat too early
I liked how the combination turned out so I decided to use it again.

I know it's messy! Practice  pa lang naman eh :)

Nails of the day care of Etude House Petit Darling Nails in WH702 and Caronia nail polishes in Sweet Surprise and Summer Fling.


Water marbling is a nail art technique that allows you to create really cool and unique designs on your nails. You don't have to be 'good' at nail art to do this. All you need are nail polishes and water, of course.

Read on for the tutorial!

Before you start, prepare the following:
  1. Nail polishes of choice (at least two shades)
  2. A cup/bowl with water (preferably not cold)
  3. Orange stick or toothpicks or anything with a pointy tip
  4. Nail polish remover
  5. Cotton pad and q-tips
  6. Tissue paper or cloth or anything you can use to wipe nail polish off the stick

Now let's start!

1. Water marbling is a messy technique. You can choose to cover the skin around your nails with tape to keep your skin polish-free so that cleaning up will be easier. You can also apply petroleum jelly/cuticle oil around the nails instead if you don't want to use tape so that any polish that sticks on your skin will be easier. I haven't tried the latter yet, though. I prefer the tape method because with it, I don't have to waste nail polish remover on cleaning my skin.

2. Apply base coat of choice to protect your nails from getting stained. I used The Face Shop's base coat.

3. Apply your base color. I chose white so that the shades would show their true color on my nails. I suggest you use a base color every time so that the design won't appear sheer (unless of course that's what you want to achieve).

Taped the skin around my nails,
applied base coat and my white base

4. Take your polishes and place them somewhere easy to reach. I suggest you twist the caps open already because in water marbling, you need to work quickly. 

Put a drop of the first polish on the water and let it spread. Then put a drop of the second color and let it spread. Repeat until you get your desired number of layers. 

5. Take your pointy thingy and create a pattern by swirling or dragging the nail polish. Remember to work quickly. You don't want the polish to dry up before you can create your design.

After taking this picture, I decided to pull
the colors closer to the center (see next pic).

6. Dip your fingers in with your nails facing down. Remember to place them in the area with the design that you like. Depending on your design and how big your cup is, you can dip many fingers at a time.

7. While your fingers are still dipped, use the stick to remove the excess polish around carefully.

8. Wait for several seconds then remove your fingers from the water.

9. Take the tape off and clean up the edges of your nails using a Q-tip or cotton buds dipped in nail polish remover.

10. And now you have your unique design! Wait for several minutes before applying your top coat to prevent the design from smudging.

You can experiment with different shade combinations and patterns. Not all nail polishes work for water marbling so you have to test yours to see which ones would work. Trial and error.

I'm warning you now... Water marbling is not easy and it can get very frustrating, especially when the polish dries up before you can create a pattern. Also it uses up more polish than the conventional way of putting on nail polish so some consider it a wasteful method. And it's time consuming too, especially if you can't dip all your fingers at once. This technique takes practice. I'm still practicing my swirling and pattern-making :] 

Having said those things, I still enjoy doing this. The results are cool enough to be worth the frustrating process for me! :)

It's like I splattered paint on my nails :)

Have you tried water marbling before? Are you going to try this sometime?

OH BTW, if you have already tried this, what polishes did you use? Better if they're locally available :)


  1. Wow, it's beautiful <3 Great job honey!!

  2. Nice work. Ang cute nung parang tiny planggana.

  3. Wow! What a brilliant idea! Will try this soon! Thanks for the tutorial! :)

  4. i know how frustrating it is!

    in fact i can never get it right! hahaha
    i'm a bit perfectionist & i like to get the swirl effect that it so unique with water marbling. the thing is i can't get the effect that i really want & i just get so frustrated with it that i haven't ever had a successful water marble design... grrrr!!!!

    i don't know if i will be trying it again just cause the last time i did, i ended up using half bottle of my polishes... crazy!!!!
     it took me more than 30 minutes to get the design right just for 3 nails... after that, i gave up.

    the cleaning is also time consuming. but i guess the effect is totally worth it,ne?

  5. wanna try this soon. thanks for this post aya! :)

  6. Love your choice of colors! The instructions for the tutorials are so clear and easy to understand! Great work, Aya! :D

  7. Ang cute aya!!! will do this if i have time :D i think i'll use my caronia polishes when i try this, para maubos na finally yung ibang bottles ko hahaha :D

  8. thanks for the tutorial aya! I love it <3 <3

  9. i likey!!! will try this then, sana I will have time na.. Missed posting NOTD on my blog na din. Thanks for sharing this :)

  10. Cute ng color combination! :) I tried marbling twice already and both attempts failed. Sucks. Haha. I'll try it na lang ulit because I find marbling really cool!


  11. Ganda! I wanna try rin. :D

  12. I'll try this one :) Great job! I love the color combination :)

  13. Ganda much... i know there's a contest for this, nabasa ko pero diko matandaan kung saaan... anyway... cutie pie ng kulay ayabels... ♥

  14. Hahaha! Talagang yun yung napansin mo ah. hehe

  15. hope you try it! whoever discovered water marbling, she (i'm assuming it's a she) had the brilliant idea :)

  16. Haha super! I too don't end up with what I originally planned on doing. I just settle with the results. Haha and it uses up so much polish pa no? Gaah.

    Kaya right now I only go for abstract-ish designs... hahahaha

  17. no prob! hope you try it :)

  18. yey! Thanks Dawn! i'm glad you think so :)

  19. Tama! This is a great way to finish up all our nail polishes. haha

  20. Thanks dear! Glad you do :D

  21. Awww i miss your posts din! :D

  22. So do I! Kahit mahirap. hahaha

  23. Thanks! Glad you like it :D

  24. Yes, meron sa Caronia! That's why I decided to try it out. Pero nagiisip pa ako ng design for my entry dun :)))

  25. Haha, oo. Yung mga napanood ko kasi sa youtube, malaking planggana ang gamit nila. E pwede naman palang plangga-tito lang. Hahaha

  26. This is awesome!!! I actually gasped when you said dip all your nails into the water! I was like "WAAAAH Whatta mess!!!" but then you cleaned up really well! hahaha I'm excited to give this a try! This is an awesome, easy technique! :D :D 

  27. I have to try this! Even with the smudge in the first picture, it didn't look bad at all. :) 
    Thanks for the useful tutorial!

  28. i really like the color combination!:)

  29. i havent tried yet marbles, na iintriga ako super tagal na, i really want to try it out..great post :D

  30. Yes ang messy niya! Kaya I prefer tape over petroleum jelly. Haha!  Yey hope you enjoy doing this! Frustrating, this is. But the results are nice :D

  31. Thank you! Yey I hope you try it! :)

  32. Thanks dear! Ang hirap kasi kaya nakakatamad din gawin. Hahaha

  33. Paige Seven BautistaMarch 30, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    Wow! I've been away from the internet for a few weeks, and this is one of the best things I saw when I returned. Great job, Miss AYA! :D

  34. that looks super cool :D the pattern came out pretty good!

  35. nice....try ko nga toh!

  36. Awww thank you, Paige! I hope you like my next nail post too :D

  37. So cooool. Hindi ko pa natry tong gawin hehe. Thanks for the tutorial! :D Will definitely follow you for more NOTDs hehe. :D

    Kat from

  38. woww! i'm amazed! i'm going to try this next time! wish me luck! haha!

  39. I tried water marbling and I got frustrated too. :)
    Nice colors <3

  40. It's so frustrating, right? Thank you! :)

  41. eee noon ako nag try nian mukahng finger painting ang ginawa ko kakainsi, so i stuck with nail stamping instead, aksaya pa sa polish, ive watched sevvveral youtube vids pero no success

  42. Totoo! Hahaha naubos bigla mga nail polish ko dito. Pero maganda to pag sadyang inuubos mo na talaga yung mga nail polish. Haha bagay na bagay 'to. Ang ganda kasi ng concept no? Pero pag ako na mismo magttry, ang hirap. Messy pa, hirap ng clean-up kahit my tape at vaseline na around the nails :/


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