Waterspotting Nail Art Tutorial

By | July 2, 2013

Just a quick reminder that we’re holding a giveaway with Bec’s very own nail polish line, Arcane Lacquer. Make sure to enter here if you haven’t already!

Hello Lacquerhead readers. After the success of the Pigment Nails Tutorial I did a while back, Lacquerheads were keen to get me to do another tutorial. For a while I was stumped on what to do, I didn’t want something standard; that’s not me, I wanted something different. Recently I had tried my hand at waterspotting, it seemed simple enough, so here it is!

So you’ve tried watermarbling with no luck (join the boat), well don’t think for one minute that you will not succeed at waterspotting. It is virtually foolproof so you’re safe to muck up and the end result will still look like the bomb.

Tools needed:

– At least two polishes
– Shot glass or cup to hold your water
– Water (no brainer!)
– Alcoholic spray such as hand sanitiser (you can use hairspray but I didn’t have much luck with that)
– Toothpicks
– Top coat
– Clean-up brush
– Acetone
– Paper towel


– Vaseline
– Tape
– Cotton buds

These items are optional, it’s really up to you and what you feel more comfortable with. Some people like to put PVA or vaseline around the fingernail, some like to use tape, some prefer to just clean up at the end with cotton buds. I’m a cotton bud girl myself, I always go the whole hog, then think to myself at the end I should have taped them.

Step 1: Choose your base colour. If you’re going to use dark colours for your spotting, then I would suggest opting for a lighter-coloured base and vice versa. Paint your nails and let them dry well, you can use a quick dry top coat to speed up this process

Step 2: Prepare your water. I usually get a big glass of tap water and another another glass to tip my used water into, as I’ve had better results when cleaning the water regularly if you are using a glittery/shimmery polish. Cremes seem to clean up better so you will not require clean water as regularly.

Step 3: Let one to two drops fall from the brush. Unlike watermarbling a little goes a long way and there is little wastage with this technique.

Step 4: Just like watermarbling, work quickly otherwise your polish will dry in the water. Spray one to two pumps of alcoholic spray directly onto the polish. I usually hold my bottle about 10 cm away from the shot glass. If you’re not happy with how the polish has spotted, do another pump of alcoholic spray, but work quickly because you still need to get that bad boy on your nail.

Step 5: Dip your nail in over the section of polish you want to transfer onto the nail.

Step 6: Keep holding your finger in the water while your run the toothpick through the water to collect the excess polish.

Step 7: Gently pull your nail out of the water and let dry.

Step 8: Repeat for each nail.

Step 9: Once dry, pat down with paper towel to make sure there is no excess water left on the nail.

Step 10: Apply topcoat and do a quick clean up.

Tips & variations:

– You may choose to do more than one colour on each nail. You shouldn’t need to apply top coat in between each layer of waterspotting as the polish is quite thin and will dry quickly.

– If using a glittery or shimmery polish, you may need to replace the water more often, as the particles of these polishes are larger. You will find that the toothpick will not pick up all of the polish, leaving the water dirty, and you may pick up ‘bits’ on your next nail dunk.

Bec loves getting creative, and always likes to keep herself busy. She always has something on the go, whether it’s painting her nails, craft, abstract painting, or creating her indie polish line Arcane Lacquer. Her swatches are well known to cause serious cases of buy-all-the-things. You can drool over her nails at her blog Nail Gun XS, or on Instagram (@nailgunxs).

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