DIY Caviar Manicure

Texture is the big trend in every facet of fashion and beauty for Spring and Summer. In the spirit of this trend Ciate has released Caviar Manicure sets (you can check them out here at Sephora). These sets, which retail for $25, include a nail polish (the base of the manicure) and a nail polish bottle filled with microbeads. In my opinion, paying $25 for that is INSANE! That being said I did want to try out the trend.

I headed to my local Michael’s and picked up microbeads to give this a shot. For a how to and everything I used check below the jump!

When I went to Michael’s I had a bit of a hard time finding microbeads. Turns out, they are in the scrapbooking section. While you can buy these beads in just a single color, I decided to get 2 sets with 6 colors. They were half off! I got 12 colors for about $7. Currently, Ciate only has 3 colors of their Caviar Manicure sets. (Note: microbeads can be found many places including Amazon

I’ve done a Caviar manicure 3 times. It took me 3 times to really perfect it. The following is what I did to get the best results:

I followed Ciate’s basic instructions that can be found here. First apply your first coat to all 10 nails. Let it dry. Next, apply a thick second coat to one nail. Sprinkle the beads over the nail. Gently press the beads into the polish. Sprinkle the nail a second time and again, gently press the beads into the polish. Repeat on the other 9 nails.

Give your nails a good 10 minutes or so to dry. Then use a top coat and dab it alot the edges of the nails. Let the top coat dry completely. And that’s it! You’re done.

Removing a caviar manicure can be a struggle. Everytime I ended up scraping the beads off. I didn’t have any luck removing them with pure acetone. Once most of the beads are gone, removal is simple.

Now onto the mistakes and made and a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

Do not use nail glue instead of nail polish to adhere the beads to your nails! Not only will there not be enough beads, they come off very easily. I used nail glue for my attempt at a purple caviar manicure, and it’s pretty obvious from the pictures, it didn’t turn out very well. (The beads are over Finger Paints Grape Gumball)

When applying the top coat to the tips of the nails make sure to dab it, and not to brush it on. Brushing it on will cause some of the color to rub off.

Make sure to sprinkle the beads over each nail twice. When I did my black caviar manicure I only sprinkled and pressed once. This caused there to be alot of bald spots and while it looked fine, it didn’t look as good as it could have.

Obviously, caviar manicures are bumpy. I caught myself rubbing my fingers over the manicure SO MANY times. Really try not to do that as eventually this will cause the color to rub off.

When sprinkling beads over the nails use a tray to catch the beads so they can be easily put back in the bottle.

Other issues I experienced with this manicure: My hair was always getting stuck on my fingernails! As was my loofa. Annoying. Also, on several occasions I got foundation between the beads on a nail or two. Thorough washing will get the foundation out but it’s not fun.

All that being said, this is such a fun manicure to do. It’s different and I always received compliments when I had it on. Realistically, I can only go about a full day to a day and a half with a caviar manicure without driving myself a bit crazy.

If anyone is still reading this post at this point I am curious to know if you’re going to give it a try? Or are you not into this trend at all? If you’ve tried this, let me know if you have any other helpful tips!

128 thoughts on “DIY Caviar Manicure

  1. megis217 April 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    i love the white!! looks so classy!

    • Katie April 12, 2012 at 2:45 am

      I agree! I might have to go get some clear microbeads now..

    • Alli April 12, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      Thank you!

  2. Lacquer-Loving Lawyer April 11, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    I don’t think I will be trying the caviar manicure, but I love looking at pictures of them in other people’s blogs. Your post was very informative and detailed and really nicely illustrated with your photos.

    • Alli April 12, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      This looks is definitely not for everyone. I was very tentative but I’m glad I tried it.

  3. Erin Nolan (@erinnolan) April 12, 2012 at 1:19 am

    I’m doing it!

    • Katie April 12, 2012 at 2:45 am

      yay! what color?

    • Katie April 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      Not until you do your aussie guest post 🙂

  4. beachgal12 April 12, 2012 at 2:27 am

    Down with Ciate! They are starting to write bloggers who use the term caviar manicure saying they are going to trademark that name! That’s just insane. I heard from 2 bloggers today who were contacted by Ciate with basic threatning statements. They no more can TM that idea then they can trademark say foil manis or Fr. Manis. It’s been done for years in the hi end fashion shows. No one ever put a TM on decorating cookies and cakes with those round ‘things’ called draggies that are able to be consumed but look just like the craft caviar beads. Don’t buy the Ciate sets being sold at Sephora – we need to boycote that company with their threats towards bloggers.

    • Katie April 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      See my response to lacquer&lashes. I suppose their claim would be that they coined the phrase “Caviar nails”? I’d love to know who was contacted. Nothing yet in our inbox.

    • Alli April 12, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      What!? That’s absurd! I gave them credit for the idea whether or not they came up with it. It’s not my fault there’s a much cheaper way to achieve the exact same look!

  5. lacquerandlashes April 12, 2012 at 8:33 am

    I heard the same thing as beachgal12.

    • Katie April 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      Hmmm that’s interesting… I guess we’ll wait and see if we are contacted. I guess I don’t understand the big deal really – I’m not sure which other blogs were contacted but Alli did introduce it as a DIY version of Ciate, so I’d be interested to see how the other girls posted it…

  6. spess April 12, 2012 at 11:52 am

    I have to say I’m not into this trend. I love the idea of something new, but to me this is just icky, like an insect laid eggs all over your nails!

    • Katie April 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      I don’t find it icky, but I’m not sure how I’d do with bumpy nails – I think it’d drive me crazy! I see myself maybe doing an accent nail once in a while.

  7. Mnemo April 12, 2012 at 11:58 am

    I got my beads yesterday!:) but just a question out of curiousity: wouldn’t it be easier to just dip your finger in the beads instead of sprinkling them on top? Seems to me that this way you can avoid bald spots?

    • Alli April 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      Well, the thing is, in order for the beads to really stay on the nail, you have to press the beads into the wet coat of nail polish. The bald spots were caused when I pressed the beads down the first time and it created spaces for more beads. So I think that problem would happen either way you go about it.

  8. domesticminxes April 14, 2012 at 12:58 am

    I’m definitely going to go rummaging for some microbeads. I’m loving textures at the moment, and your white mani looks so classy!

    • Alli April 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm

      Thank you so much!

  9. Hedda Cabbage April 15, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks, I was in Michaels and saw beads but no micro beads. Have to go back and look in the scrap booking section. Thanks for the tip.

    • Alli April 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      I would have never found them if I didn’t ask. I had no idea they were a scrapbooking item!

  10. Bassmah April 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I love these beads, I use the gold ones and I’m obsessed! I like using them on black polish and creating a studded effect. Gorgeous! Your white nail caviar is lovely!

    • Alli April 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      I mailed the gold beads to Katie. That’s a great idea, hopefully she’ll give it a try!

    • Angel November 8, 2012 at 10:19 pm

      They are in the Martha Stewart isle and the glitter isle

  11. Angela Barnes May 3, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    I used the clear microbeads over a deep blue…the color turned out awesome! My technique was different and had a slightly different outcome, but I did not follow a tutorial. It still turned out nice and since I work at Michael’s my nails may have sold some extra beads and glitter that week!

    • Karen September 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      Hi Angela I’m interested in knowing what technique you used I so love the caviar nail I’m going to try it

  12. eyeblinkfashion May 17, 2012 at 8:49 am

    These are soooo pretty! I love the white, I’ll def be trying these for the wedding I have coming up in July! <3 Lauren

  13. Goong May 27, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I had a similar microbeads you have. They are pretty but problem is color always come off when put top coat.

    • Alli May 27, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      Well, you can’t put a top coat over the entire nail. Make sure to just dab the top coat on the tips and not to brush it on.

  14. Jennifer Lucas June 8, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Thank you SO much for this. I was planning on doing this for my wedding in December. With your microbeads idea I can use the shiny cream pearls with a couple of blue ones thrown in. I love doing my nails but I’m really rough on my hands so the paint comes off quick. I’m sure this will be doubly so but they only have to make it 3 hours with the wedding and reception. Thank you! Thank you!!

    • Alli June 9, 2012 at 11:55 am

      That sounds like a wonderful combination! I may just have to give it a try myself 🙂

      • Nerdette June 20, 2012 at 8:56 pm

        The original caviar manicure looks pretty cool on its own, but I really like the idea of mixing the microbead colours!

  15. Ebony Sparks June 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Ok, gag me. Last night I did the caviar manicure, it was ok for the moment. However, today the microbeads are already coming off. I purposely applied a thicker coat of Polish and pushed the beads down into the polish, hoping that they would stay longer. All in all, it was fun while it lasted. I’m doing rockstart later this evening.

    • Alli June 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      I’m sorry it was such a disaster for you! I’ve found this kind of manicure is best for a night out and then I take it off.

  16. Mona July 20, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    I love this manicure. What polish color did you have under the clear beads! I did it with antique copper beads over Sally Hansen kinetic copper.
    Love it!

    • Alli July 21, 2012 at 9:59 am

      I used Ulta Snow White. It’s just a plain old white creme polish!

  17. Courtney August 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    They look awesome, the white is my fav, I love the iridescent beads… but only a day to a day and half… yikes. I really like touching my nails too so I might just keep staring at your pictures. 😉

    • Alli August 4, 2012 at 9:00 pm

      The white really surprised me. I ended up loving it 🙂

  18. lippylash August 4, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    I absolutely love the look but I would be touching it non stop as well. And you would probably find little beads everywhere around my apartment. But heck it looks so good!

  19. Claudia September 8, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    This looks so fun, I think I’ll give it a try.. This was very informative, thanks 🙂

    • Alli September 18, 2012 at 10:41 am

      No problem. I hope you like it!

  20. Karen September 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Going to try ASAP

  21. Maxine September 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    I’m heading to Michael NOW! I’ve gotta try this.

  22. Donna Coleiro September 18, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I love Caviar manis!! I tried it a while back & it was amazing!! Ciate is coming out with a Sequin Manicure…but I will be opting for a more affordable version!!
    Your nails are amazing!!!!

    • Alli September 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      Thank you! Ciate sure does love their arts and crafts, don’t they?

  23. Ashley September 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    OMG I ha to try this but not on myself 🙂

  24. Erica November 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Im gonna attempt it… I went to Michaels to purchase the beads but im going to use nail bonder ( use for adhering nail art, rhinestones etc) to hold them on and see how that works.

    • Alli November 14, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      I didn’t have much luck using any kind of nail adhesive simply because it made the beads sit on top of the nail instead of sinking into a coat of polish.

  25. Alissa December 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    I’ve tried it several times and the beads only stay on between an hour and 3-4 hours. I used a top coat to seal, but after a few hours the whole thing just peels off in one big piece. I used the same beads and process as others, but they just don’t stay on for me. I love the look and bought a 12 pack of the recollections beads. I’ll keep trying!

    • Alli December 22, 2012 at 8:06 pm

      Hm. I’ve never had it peel off in a big piece. I’ve had individual beads fall off.

      Are you using a top coat over the entire thing or just the tips?

    • Anna April 6, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      If your nail is peeling it sounds like your nail polish or base coat may be bad. What brand do you use?

  26. Rae January 4, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Thanks for the post! I have the Sensationail at home UV gel polish kit and I did the caviar manicure with the clear gel polish and then UV cured it. I put another coat of clear over top to smooth it out, and I didn’t get the problem with the hair getting stuck in my nails, etc. I got perfect coverage this way and with NO dry time. My caviar nails lasted comfortably and smoothly 4 days. I am a huge fan of the sensationail,and I think it’s the best way to go for caviar nails!

    • Alli January 5, 2013 at 9:49 am

      What a brilliant idea! Definitely something to consider! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  27. Marcela February 15, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I went to my local sallys but were sold out!..I will definitely go to micheals to purchase excited to try, they look awesome!

  28. Isabel February 23, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    When you put the top coat on why for you only dab the tips?

    • Alli February 24, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      If you put a top coat over the entire nail it’ll take the color off of the beads 🙂

  29. Felicia February 27, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    I love this look and I’m deff going to try it!

  30. APRIL February 28, 2013 at 10:31 pm


    • Alli March 1, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Haha. I totally understand! Glad you got alot of compliments 🙂

  31. licia March 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I just bought a kit from Walgreens and Walmart. It’s called Nail Rock by Rock Beauty ( Very nice, comes with polish, a pot of caviar nail beads and costs me $6.99- I will be trying this tomorrow 🙂

    • Alli March 11, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      I hope it went well!

  32. Molly March 27, 2013 at 9:09 am

    I’ve just done my second caviar manicure after my first came off in hours – I didn’t realise I had to paint over them afterwards! Theyre now white and look lovely! Thank you! 🙂

    • Alli March 27, 2013 at 10:12 am

      I’m so glad! Sounds awesome 🙂

  33. Sara March 30, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Done this earlier I absolutley love them. I cant stop touching them lmao. I love the white and I am definitely going to give the black a go 🙂 I got multicoloured balls including yellow, red, blue, white and purple with a white base coat. I had previously used nail glue on top of a coloured coat and I had the same results with not many balls sticking. Thanks for the tips 😀 x

    • Alli April 7, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      So glad you like it!

  34. Anna April 6, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I did a caviar accent nail this past week on top of opi’s mod about you. This week I’m wearing opi’s fly and would like to place a few beads along the curve of my cuticle as decoration but NOT a whole nail. Does anyone have any tips for placing single beads or even know if it’s possible for an amature to do?

    • Alli April 7, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      I’ve done this using tweezers to place the beads. Just make sure to apply a thick coat of slow drying stop coat and work somewhat quickly.

  35. Andrea Reaves May 3, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    I just found this blog and so glad I did. I just did a caviar manicure and was wondering why it didn’t come out great, On my next, I will be doing the 2 coats of the beads! Thank you so much for this post!

    • Alli May 4, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      So glad my post helped you!

  36. Carla May 18, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    I’m going to give it a go. I bought the beads from eBay at a great price! I only want to have the caviar on one nail though. It will drive me insane on all 5. Thanks for the notes!

    • Alli May 19, 2013 at 11:42 am

      The beads work great as an accent nail! Hope you love it 🙂

  37. jo May 25, 2013 at 2:54 am

    Thank you. My daughter is doing her second one now, using your tips

    • Alli May 25, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      No problem! I hope it turns out great!

  38. jo May 25, 2013 at 2:54 am

    Thank you. My daughter is doing her second one now, using your tips

  39. chris May 25, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    i got lots of colors in caviar beads from They also had the cute fimo shapes too as well as half beads looking like pearls. should check them out if you have trouble finding them

  40. Bernie June 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    I’m going to try it on one finger only! Maybe my index finger. I will plosh the rest of the mail with the appropriate coordinating color. I think one finger won’t drive me crazy texture wise. I love the white set also!

    • Alli June 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      I prefer to do a caviar accent mail. It’s definitely less annoying!

  41. Angie June 13, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    I do gel nails. I got a caviar set at walmart for 7 bucks. Brought it to my nail tech. And she encased it in the gel, so it looks like caviar but it is smooth. Love it,

  42. Caren June 23, 2013 at 11:39 am

    I’m going to try it later, was thinking about just putting it on 1 nail of each hand

    • Alli June 26, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      That’s a great way to ease into the whole 3D nail art thing!

  43. Edel June 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Just tried doing it today..messy process but looks cute! Your article had great advice! Edel

    • Alli June 30, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Glad you found it helpful 🙂

  44. Nor July 13, 2013 at 9:03 am

    I really wanna do this but where can I buy them online
    I dont have Michaels store in my country so please help me

    • Alli July 13, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      You should be able to find them on Amazon or Ebay by just searching “microbeads”

  45. Emma-Lou July 31, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Just done an accent nail with a nude polish and gold and cream beads, I absolutely love it! Not expecting it to last long so I expect this is a night out/special occasion look. Great blog post too, really helpful 🙂

  46. Jess August 20, 2013 at 5:37 am

    Love this mani ! just posted a version of this on my blog ! thanks it was really helpful !

    • Katie August 20, 2013 at 11:45 am

      Very pretty! It reminds me of bubblegum 🙂 Love it.

  47. Anonymous September 4, 2013 at 12:58 am

    Omg. I went to michaels earlier. .. came put it on my mom she freaked out…I used brush glue!!! HELP I can’t get it off :'( wish I had read your article first

  48. Anonymous September 4, 2013 at 1:11 am

    I used hair spray instead of a top coat so the colors wouldn’t fade

  49. Anonymous December 29, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    I love them the only trouble i have is keeping the bloody things on but do so love them ♡

  50. Nancy Arnholm February 8, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    I purchased te same micro beads at Michaels and got a good deal. When I do them, they come out awesome and I get a lot of compliments. But I’ve only managed to keep them on for half a day. Putting a top coat on helps a little, but they don’t look as cool with the top coat. Does anyone have any tips for keeping them on longer? Other than MITTENS? Lol

    • Alli February 8, 2014 at 10:38 pm

      I haven’t really found a good way to get them to stay on.

      The best tip I can give you is to make sure you use a thick coat of polish and really work the beads into the polish before it dries.

  51. Anonymous May 27, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Ive tried it but the balls come off really easy? ?

    • Alli May 27, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      You have to make sure to really wedge the balls down into the polish.

      But they aren’t going to stick forever!

  52. Kym June 1, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    the color melts off when washing your hands. any suggestions?

    • Alli June 2, 2014 at 11:54 am

      I’ve never had that problem.

      This might sound crazy but I’d try spraying a little hair spray on the beads. It may help hold the color.

  53. Carol Reilly July 6, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Dont sprinkle the beads, put them in a tiny container and push your nails down on them!

  54. Shelby July 9, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    I’ve tried this before. But I have a…let’s say…tiny nail biting problem. But the problem is that I used Cake Mates Nonpareils. I thought they were pretty yummy, though. I only had the color on for an hour or so, and the actual nonpareils for two. So they stayed on for about three hours altogether.

  55. Anonymous November 5, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Awesome! Thank you for the find in Michael’s!!

  56. Lisa January 1, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    I found this blog after I did my daughters nails. Hers turned out fairly well, so thought I’d give it a try, except she had a few bald spots, she’s only 8 so wasn’t an issue & still looked cute! I thought mine was going good, until I did the clear coat… the purple on the caviar started to run, it didn’t do this with my daughters nails… I wonder if it depends on what clear coat you use, as what I used on hers was different from the 1 I used on mine. I decided to only do my ring finger, seemed like too much of a hassle for every finger. Yours turned out so nice & this blog was very helpful. Not sure I’ll be trying this again anytime soon. These are the type of nails that are pretty to look at, but not fun to do lol! Thanks for your very informative blog!

  57. Tanya June 9, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    I love caviar nails!!! I made nail tech compress lightly in to polish. He lightly put clear nail glue all over it. It’s amazing it’s not budging and remained glossy.

  58. Anonymous July 3, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Yes it does.

What do you think?