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!


  1. 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!

    1. 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!

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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! 😀

  4. 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…

    1. 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 🙂

    1. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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! 🙂

  7. 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!!

  8. 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.

What do you think?