How to Apply Water Slide Decals for Easy Nail Art

Updated on January 5, 2017
Water slide decals with China Glaze textured nail polish
Water slide decals with China Glaze textured nail polish | Source

There is a large range of ready-to-use nail art products available on the market these days. We don't need to go to a high-end salon every time we want to do our nails because we can produce the same results very simply at home. If you use a good quality top coat and nail polish for your nail art you will find it will last long time. In my experience, using China Glaze nail polishes as a first and top coat will give results that last about a week.

What is a Water Slide Decal?

A water slide decal is a pattern or image, large or small, which is printed on a special paper. When it is put into water, a layer between the image and the backing paper dissolves, allowing the image or pattern to slide off, which can then be transferred to your nail (or any other surface). Water slide decals are much thinner than vinyl decals.

They are a fantastic way to create salon finish nail art within a few minutes. There is an endless collection of them in the market today, from French manicure to full nail design, from flowers to hearts to cartoons, from Christmas to Halloween, from laces to half-moon designs and so on.


How To Apply

From my own experience, I would say that water slide decals are the easiest way to get a salon finish at home, but many people still struggle with their application.

So, I want to share a step by step tutorial on how to apply waterslide decals perfectly without any hassle.

  1. First, apply nail polish for the base of your nail art. There are two types of water decals available in the market; one can be applied to any base nail polish color and the other should be on a white base color only. I am using those that can be applied to any base.

  2. Make yourself a workplace by collecting everything you need in one place. That includes a pair of tweezers, a bowl of water (room temperature) and a sheet of waterslide decals.

  3. Remove the protective sheet of the decal sheet.

  4. Cut a piece of water slide decal. You don't need to cut a flower closely. Just cut a square piece of the sheet.

  5. Put the piece in the water bowl for 5-10 seconds.

  6. Take it out with tweezers. Now, pick the flower decal from the sheet carefully and set it on your nails.

  7. Finally, apply a top coat on your nails for long-lasting nail art.

Cute Cat decals for nail art with polka dots and china glaze nail polishes
Cute Cat decals for nail art with polka dots and china glaze nail polishes | Source

These decals are long-lasting and look beautiful even after a week. They are available in a very wide range. Some should be applied on a white base and some on any color, some are small designs and some are full nail designs. Even full sheets of water decals are also available in many options. You can cut them according to your requirement and nail size.

I love to do experiments with water slide decals by combining them with different types of nail polishes, different free hand designs, different base etc. And every time the result is really amazing.

So, I would love to share few of my best nail art designs using water slide decals.

Pink-Purple Flower
Pink-Purple Flower | Source

Pink-Purple Flower

The texture collection of China Glaze is simply adorable. I love each and every color of this collection. In this example, I have combined China Glaze Bump & Grind texture with water decals for my design.

Items required:

  1. Nail polishes: China Glaze Bump & Grind texture and China Glaze Snow.

  2. A sheet of water decals. I am using ones that look brighter on the white base.

  3. Tweezers

  4. A water bowl

  5. A pair of scissors

  6. Top coat. I am using both first & last top coat by China Glaze

Apply two coats of nail polish as required, you can apply in the same way I did. Then apply the water decal on the white base, followed by a top coat. You nail art is ready and everyone will adore it.

Blue Pink Dolphin Nail Art

In this French manicure style dolphin nail art, I have combined the technique of ombre nail art applied with a sponge. If you never tried it before then check it out. For this technique, I have used 2-3 blue-tone nail polishes with a touch of white for a perfect look.

I have also applied white base nail polish so that my blue color will stand out. Then, simply apply dolphin water decals and top coat for finishing.

Dolphin Water Decal Nail Art
Dolphin Water Decal Nail Art | Source

Flower Nail Art

I have tried this design with two China Glaze textured nail polish shades. As I said before, I love the textured collection and it is simply adorable. If you are doing mix and match nail art by applying decals or designing on middle fingernails only, then you can complement remaining nails with these polishes and your nail art looks perfect. Most of the time, I do follow this technique.

In this nail art, I have applied small flower water decals on my middle finger nails and complimented them with white polka dots.

Flower water slide decal in 2 different looks!!
Flower water slide decal in 2 different looks!! | Source

Which of the above flower water decal nail art do you like more?

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Neon water decal nail art on white China Glaze base nail polish
Neon water decal nail art on white China Glaze base nail polish | Source


Neon colors look really bright and your nail art will stand out if you use them. If you want a bright result, then apply white nail polish as the base. These neon water slide decals are available in a variety of designs, whether you go for full nail decals or single designs.

For this design, I have used a pack of abstract decal designs and a mustache. Combine different designs and get a mesmerizing result. Everyone will ask you where you bought your nail art, but it’s your secret!.

Scottish Plaid

I have seen some nail artists who have tried to do Scottish plaid style nail art with brushes. Some do it really perfectly. Then I spotted these Scottish plaid style water decals. I wanted to try this design but I always favor water decals. They are my secret to perfectly finished nail art.

I have combined these with white 3D decals on China Glaze autumn collection nail polish. All the same, I feel like they could look a little better with a purple base on the remaining nails as well. What do you think?

Scottish Plaid style full nail water decal decal nail art with 3D white decals and China Glaze Autumn collection
Scottish Plaid style full nail water decal decal nail art with 3D white decals and China Glaze Autumn collection | Source
French Manicure style with Red Black polka dots and China Glaze Nail Polishes
French Manicure style with Red Black polka dots and China Glaze Nail Polishes | Source

French Manicure Nail Art

Here, I tried French manicure style water decals for my design. They came in a pack of 10 decals in 5 different sizes. If you use them wisely, then you can get 2 manicures for both hands like I did. I added red and black polka dots on the remaining fingernails. I used a white base, but you can apply any color because these water decals are not sheer.

Black Full Nail Check Nail Art on pink and yellow nail polish base
Black Full Nail Check Nail Art on pink and yellow nail polish base | Source

Black Check

Have you ever tried to make a check with a striping brush, striping tape or stamping set? I tried!!They look good, but I am not entirely satisfied. What do you think of this black check water decal nail art? Doesn’t it look perfect? I loved it.

  • For full nail water decals, you have to cut a piece equal to or a little larger than the size of your nails.

  • Put the decal in the water bowl.

  • Take it out with tweezers and apply very carefully on your nails. If it is a little large, leave the overlap as it is and dry off the water completely from your nails.

  • Now, apply a top coat and let that dry.

  • With an orange stick or cuticle pusher, you can cut off the overlapping part of the decal. Don't try to cut it before the top coat dries or it will mess up.

Thanks for reading

I have tried to bring together some different water decal nail art ideas in this hub. I hope you all enjoyed them and try them too. I will be adding more videos and tutorials in this article, to make it easier to understand, so keep visiting here!!

I would love to see your comments on my ideas and if you love to make your own designs, then share your nail art pics too.

How To Apply Full Nail Water Slide Decals

Step By Step Guide

Would you like to see more water decal nail art ideas?

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© 2015 Jasmeet Kaur


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      Alekhya 11 months ago

      Hi, I really love your designs and tutorials. But can you please link to those Nail polishes(especially stamping polish) and these water decals and velvet transfer and foil transfer??? Please? Any Indian site would do. Thankyou so much for these articles. Really appreciate your work. __/\__