DIY Nail Polish Strips

It’s pretty obvious we are big fans of nail polish strips/appliques/etc around here. Sally Hansen Salon Effects are my favorite, but I also quite like the OPI appliques as well as others. The ones I like the best do have one thing in common; they are always made from real nail polish and are not just stickers.

Between loving real nail polish strips and my eternal desire to try a splatter manicure (and not have to deal with the clean up…) I finally decided to give making my own polish strips a try.

The way I went about making these polish strips was a combination of a gazillion tutorials I’ve seen for this over the years. For an entire tutorial check below the jump!


What you need:

  1. A plastic sandwich bag
  2. Nail polish. Obviously you can do any design you want. I used Maybelline Black Onyx, Essie No Place Like Chrome and Orly Rage.
  3. A top coat

How to make the strips:

  1. Use your base color and paint strips on the plastic bag about the width of your nail and significantly longer than your current nail length. Make sure the strips are far enough apart so they can later be cut into individual strips.
  2. If you are going to do a design add that. I did a splatter design. This involved dipping a cocktail straw into No Place Like Chrome and Rage then blowing air into the straw to create the splatter effect.
  3. Let the nail polish dry for several hours. I let mine dry overnight. Just don’t let the strips go too long without using them otherwise the polish will entirely dry out.
  4. Cut the design into individual nail polish strips.



  1. Apply one coat of the base color to your nails. Let dry at least partially.
  2. One at a time carefully peel the polish away from the plastic.
  3. Line up one end with the cuticle and press down in the middle of the nail moving from the cuticle to the tip. Then do the same for each side.
  4. File off the excess with a nail file.
  5. Apply a top coat (making sure to wrap the tips)

Turns out this was fun to do and alot easier than I thought it might be. I love the result (even though my nails do kind of look like my kitchen counter….) and of course the possibilities are endless!

This is also a great solution for those of you that have trouble doing nail art with your non dominant hand 🙂

As far as wear goes…this wears slightly better than normal polish though nowhere near as long as what you get from store bought polish strips.

They are easily removed with normal polish remover.





  1. This is great – I had only seen in passing some incomplete things on putting polish on plastic bags but seemed to miss all the points needed. I had kind of thought at first it was to then kind of pick up the plastic bags when the polish was wet and sponge those on your nails! Thanks so much for taking the mystery out of this for me. I need to try it – I have like many folks – zillions of bottles of polish – and like you, I like the strips but only the ones that are the real polish and they get to be really expensive so I have not let myself really used them a lot. If I can make my own then I can get through some of the zillion bottles of polish I have here and also get the spatter mani look without all the mess. I think I saw some designs used for this with a look like water marbleing too. Maybe I will get some of these going so they are ready to try when this now mani I have needs changing out. I cannot believe how long my current mani has lasted – I topped it with a good coating of the gold flake/foil 18K OPI topper Man With A Golden Gun and I got more than 7 days wear out of it!!!! I did fix the tip wear about 3 times on the mani and dabbed a little more of the gold topper on – and I think this is a huge hit with me now that is if my next tries with it will give me 9-10 days wear!!!

    1. That is my problem. I have so much nail polish that even as much as I love the nail polish strips I hate to buy them because I already have so much polish!

      That’s great about THMWTGG!

  2. Am bookmarking this page so I can come back to it if I don’t have the whole thing down pat after doing it a couple times…cannot wait to get back from my day long of appointments today so I can try this!

  3. Thank you so much for posting this tutorial! I just tried this and the result is amazing 😀 I can’t believe how easy it is. This is how I’m going to do nail art from now on. It takes care of several problems for me – I don’t have to wait forever for all the different layers to dry, I can just paint another strip if I mess up a design, and my right hand can look just as good as my left 😛

    Oh, I can’t wait to try stamping with this too! I have such a hard time getting the perfect stamp image over the curve of my nail 🙁 I wonder how long you can leave the strips on the plastic before it gets too dry to be pliable? because I would LOVE to have ready-to-use strips for traveling. Anyway, thanks so much! I love this!!!

    1. I’m so glad you gave it a shot!

      Unfortunately, they dry out pretty quickly. If you turned the bag inside out and zipped it up they might last a bit longer.

  4. I love this, I usually do my own nails once a week, but I always smudge them. I love this idea, I could probably do them more frequently, I have so much nail polish lol. Thanks for this tutorial !

  5. I’d like to point out that Jamberry Nails really does a good job of making wraps like this, and you don’t have to go through the huge hassle of trying to get the strips the perfect size. They come in a pack of two sets with nine nails, ranging in size from the smallest pinky nail to the biggest big toe nail.

    They aren’t made of nail polish, but that is what makes them amazing. After about twenty minutes of total work applying them and get this- NO DRYING TIME- you get an amazing mani that can last you for two weeks or more. Simply use acetone, the same thing you use to take off regular nail polish, and they come off with no damage to your natural nail.

    1. I had significant damage to my thumb nail after using a Jamberry sample. I know there are videos on how to avoid that – but it’s just another step in the process. I followed the directions for removal and had damage. I’m glad I just did one nail.

      I know people are really into them and I think that’s great for them and maybe some day I’ll try again – but if I’m going to use nail strips I’m sticking with Incoco & Sally Hansen – they’re made of real nail polish and far superior in design.

      Design flaws aside, I’d probably even be more open to the concept if I didn’t feel like it was being shoved down my throat at every turn: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

      Alli can share her thoughts on acetone removal & the sizing if she’d like.

    2. I think you perhaps missed the point of this post. This is about making your own nail strips…meaning it’s something you did yourself. With things you already have around your house.

      I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing my own nail art; whether it be via my own nail strips or more traditional nail art.

      Unfortunately, my Jamberry experience never got off the ground because none of the sizes fit my narrow nail beds.

      I’ve used a ton of nail strips and there is certainly a place for them in the nail polish world. This post isn’t meant to compete with nail wraps but to give people DIY nail art ideas for those, like me, who get joy out doing their own nail art.

    3. I’ve tried Jamberry nails, and as brilliant as they seem, they didn’t work for my very curvy nails, even with all the different tricks out there. I like the method on this post because it’s real polish, and when applied to the nail right away, is pliable enough to stretch over curvy nails. Jamberrys never felt smooth on my nails and I much prefer the feeling of real nail polish.

      1. You should try Colorstreet nail strips. They are 100% nail polish strips! Cute designs like Jamberry but NO heat needed to apply and really NO nail damage when you remove them. 🙂 my

        1. I’ve thought about ColorStreet! Aren’t they produced by the same company as Incoco? I loveeeee Incoco strips.

          I have an arsenal of jamberry but, I just can’t get over nail damage issue. I do love them – but much prefer Sally Hansen and Incoco.

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