DIY: Scotch Tape Nails

I’m really bad at painting my nails with my non-dominant hand. Terrible actually. However, as a self-professed nail polish addict plain nails can be a little boring. So when I came across the idea of scotch tape nail art, I was intrigued. It is really easy. All you need is nail polish and scotch tape, and you’re good to go.

done2Now the trick to scotch tape nail art is patience. It’s not going to happen in one sitting. If you try to put the scotch tape on too soon then you are going to ripping up the base coat because it’s not going to be set. I would recommend that you wait at least 1.5 – 2 hours before you attempt the scotch tape.  I mean, if you want to go sooner then that’s up to you, but I would err on the side of caution.

For my base coat, I used Essie’s Bikini So Teeny. Essie has made a liar out of me because I am hooked on their nail polish, and I formally claimed I would never spend more than $5 on a bottle of nail polish. This polish will literally last a week without major chipping.


I painted my base the night before. The next day, I picked out my other two colors both from Sally Hansen’s Insta-Dri collection Blue-Away (light blue) and Co-Bolt Blue (dark blue).

I got out my scotch tape and cut the tape into skinny little strips and placed them on my nails. I did diagonal angles, but you could do any line style you wanted (vertical, horizontal, multiple lines). I prefer using scissors to cut the tape so that I get a straight edge instead of the ridges that the tape cutter leaves behind.

Make sure you are cutting the tape so that the strips hang past just your nail, so that you can rip off the tape easily later. 

nailpolish tape two

Next, I took my first nail polish and painted the bottom half of my nail. It’s okay if you get it on the tape, just try not to paint the top part unless you were only planning on doing two shades (which still looks cool and takes less time). Repeat  with the other color on top. If you feel like you need to do two coats of each color, now is the time.

threefourLet your nails completely dry. If there is any tackiness and you rip up the tape, it’s going to rip up some of the polish you just painted, and you are probably going to be super frustrated. Once it’s all dry and good, you can peel off the tape.


That’s all there is to it! It’s pretty simple in my opinion, and I tend to be a little clumsy with nail art. There are so many variations to this. I think, you could literally do your own nails for the rest of your life with just some scotch tape and nail polish.

Here are just a few examples from other amazing bloggers of scotch tape nail art.


What’s your favorite nail polish brand? Do you like nail art? Do you do your own nails or visit the salon?


10 thoughts on “DIY: Scotch Tape Nails

  1. Emma @ Culturecopia April 29, 2013 / 2:33 pm

    Wow, looks great! I’m not even going to pretend like I have the patience for this though, haha!

  2. nikkix0 April 29, 2013 / 4:05 pm

    I literally just did this and was super disappointed when the nail polish stuck to the tape and peeled off with it :( probably just the nail polish I used though.

    • Sam April 30, 2013 / 6:51 am

      How long did you let the polish dry?

      • nikkix0 April 30, 2013 / 11:28 am

        A couple of minutes I think. I waited till they were dry enough to touch.

  3. TrineMarie April 29, 2013 / 5:11 pm

    I actually think it’s a lot easier if you remove the tape immediately, before the polish has hat time to dry at all :) If you do it carefully, the polish still won’t smudge, and you don’t have to worry about it pulling off the rest of your polish.

    • Sam April 30, 2013 / 6:52 am

      I have done that, but I have noticed that it will sometimes rip up the most recently painted nail polish for me.

  4. idyllwilddesigns April 29, 2013 / 10:59 pm

    I use this technique all the time, but I found that ‘blue painters’ tape works best and does the least amount of damage! Just cut it to the size/shape you want and paint away!

    • Sam April 30, 2013 / 6:54 am

      That would make sense. I guess, I have just never had trouble with the scotch tape, and I always have scotch tape on hand, which makes it much more convenient.

  5. Iris Galvan Castro May 7, 2013 / 7:32 am

    This looks like very easy and fun to DIY. I will certainly try this one of these days. Thanks!

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