Embossing Powder

DIY Liquid Sand Manicure

When I saw that OPI was releasing Liquid Sand nail polish (that according to them was GROUNDBREAKING technology) with their Mariah Carey collection I could only think of Ciate’s Caviar and Velvet manicures that were easily DIYable for a much cheaper price. After some research I realized OPI was going in a different direction. Sure, Liquid Sand nail polish is creating a texture but it doesn’t require sprinkling craft beads or flocking powder over wet polish. This texture happens right out of the bottle.

At first I was thrown but I was determined to figure out a way to DIY the “Liquid Sand” texture. I went through more than a few failures. But I finally came up with a method that I was happy with and I love the results.

This does take a bit of time and patience but I think the results are worth it. For a full set of instructions check below the jump!


What you need:

  1. A nail polish of your choice. (I used NYC Flat Iron Green)
  2. Embossing powder. I purchased mine at Michael’s for around $3. I used white which seems to work well with most colors.
  3. Something to catch the excess embossing powder (I used foil).

How to:

  1. Working with one nail at a time apply one coat of nail polish.
  2. Sprinkle the embossing powder over the wet polish and gently pat the embossing powder so it adheres to the wet polish.
  3. Shake of the excess. The embossing powder will stick to your skin and cuticles as well to the nail to rinse the embossing powder off under cold water.
  4. Let the polish dry so that the embossing powder doesn’t come off when you gently rub your finger over the nail.
  5. Apply another, fairly thin coat of nail polish and let dry.

That’s it! It takes a bit of time and patience the first time around but once you do it a couple of times it doesn’t take long.

If you want to make this an even more authentic Liquid Sand manicure add some sparse chunky glitter.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the latest textured manicure crazy and whether or not you’ll be giving this a shot!

50 thoughts on “DIY Liquid Sand Manicure

  1. luchessa November 28, 2012 at 9:57 am

    quite a cool idea 🙂 not bad for a DIY nail art at all 😉

    • Alli November 28, 2012 at 10:43 am

      Thank you 🙂

  2. beachgal November 28, 2012 at 10:20 am

    This does look a lot like the few photos of the OPI Liquid Sand polishes do! I am a little confused on what you write on step #3 “The embossing powder will stick to your skin and cuticles as well to the nail to rinse the embossing powder off under cold water. ” Do you mean that while the polish is still wet and you have dusted the powder over it, that you need to wash you hands off to get it off your skin then? Or do you wait until the polish underneath the powder is dry before washing?

    I think what you came up with is brilliant – just kind of wish I liked rough texture on my nails more – then I would be a lot more excited over this…if folks love the texture, this will let them have the look in any color they like. I am not a fan of gritty glitters, so I probably won’t be a fan of this one. Something about grit always has not set well with me… even as a young person, I would look for metal nail files vs. having to use an emery board (pre the days of glass files) because that sandpaper feel was almost equal to how many feel about fingernails on a chalkboard!

    • Alli November 28, 2012 at 10:43 am

      I rinsed the embossing powder off while the polish was still somewhat wet. As long as you use cold water it won’t bother the wet polish.

      I didn’t think I would like this as I am also not a big fan of gritty textures on my nails but I surprised myself and like it quite a bit!

      • Anonymous January 11, 2015 at 12:01 pm

        You can use cold water like that it will dry faster

  3. emlocke November 28, 2012 at 11:55 am

    I don’t love the sandy look . . . but Flat Iron Green is one of my favorite fall/winter polishes!

    • Alli November 28, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      I’ve kind of rediscovered Flat Iron Green recently. I forgot how much I like it!

  4. kinkycurlyliebe November 28, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Very cool Alli! Please revisit this look again with glitter. <3

    • Alli November 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      Thank you! And I definitely plan to 🙂

  5. Raye November 28, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    It always seemed to me that the same general look could be obtained by slapping some matte top coat over a glitter nail polish. It might not be as textured–which seems like it could be a good thing for some people–but by using a grittier glitter, it still could be.

    • Alli November 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      The entire concept really isn’t revolutionary or groundbreaking as OPI wants us to think. That is definitely another way to achieve a similar look.

  6. Mariana November 28, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    This looks great!
    I was really excited about the liquid sand effect until I saw swatches and they’re basically really gritty glitters. I love the look, but I already have some super gritty glitters so it doesn’t seem as unique and exciting now. It’s just like when they released their sorbets and they were just jellies. Jokes on me I guess because I’ll probably still want them
    Anyway, you did a great job with this tutorial! 😀

    • Alli November 28, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      Thank you so much!

      And believe me….I hear you. But we wouldn’t be nail polish addicts if we didn’t always want the newest thing!

  7. Food, Fash, Fit December 5, 2012 at 4:51 am

    Wow, that’s actually pretty cool looking! I’m glad there are new ideas going on in the varnish world, but although textures are fun, sand seems a bit weird! But I prefer the textured look to the crackle look by a long way…

    • Alli December 5, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      I kind of look at it like…well…at least it’s something different!

      Just when I think there’s nothing new out there something like this comes along 🙂

      • Food, Fash, Fit December 5, 2012 at 4:19 pm

        Yes, exactly! What will they think of next?!

  8. Sara Hook-facto December 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    my only concern is when you get near sometihng hot, such as cooking or starting a fire, wont the emrossing poweder get hot also and expans like ?

    • Alli December 28, 2012 at 5:46 pm

      I cooked in this manicure and didn’t have any problems. I would think the embossing powder would have to be exposed to direct heat for something like that to happen.

  9. Sara Hook-facto December 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    ty i was unsure about that ty for clearing this up

  10. melissakisses January 5, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    cool! thanks for this! now all we need to do is come up with a polish or way to make tiny spike like things on the nails (sorta like stucco on a wall) lol

    • Alli January 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      I’m sure someone will come up with that soon! Lol

  11. Melissa Small January 30, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Would it be possible to add the powder to the polish to save a step and be able to paint texture directly onto the nail like the OPIs? -Or does it all just clump up and ruin the polish? -Also I found flat iron green in two packs at my local dollar store! 🙂

    • Alli January 30, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      I tried doing it that way first and it was a clumpy mess!

  12. Amber June 11, 2013 at 5:12 am

    Looks amazing!!

  13. cr3m3 July 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Tried this last night………..FAIL

    • Alli July 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      Hmm. I’ve done it a couple times and it worked fine. What happened?

      • cr3m3 July 2, 2013 at 5:41 pm

        it didnt looked sandy…maybe it was the polish.

  14. cr3m3 July 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    So I tried again and it turned out better this time lol check it out http://chrissynailedit.blogspot.com/2013/07/diy-liquid-sand-manicure.html

    • Alli July 26, 2013 at 10:49 am

      Looks fabulous!

  15. kateinlimerick August 24, 2013 at 4:10 am

    A friend’s 6-year-old daughter wants a beach party theme for her birthday this winter – this will be perfect with either a sand-coloured nail polish, or with your Blue Lagoon textured gradient – thank you!!

    • Alli August 24, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      No problem! Sounds like a cute party idea 🙂

  16. MyDailyNailDesigns September 24, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    I love the idea, actually this green is so soothing . Hve to try , 🙂

  17. Sandybb October 21, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    use a dusting of baby powder around your cuticles and fingers; the embossing powder won’t stick (I use for crafting); If directly exposed to heat (i.e. hair dryer) embossing powder will melt, not expand, which I would imagine might burn you a little.

  18. Anonymous February 10, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    Great idea! I’m a little late on finding this but I plan on trying it out.

What do you think?