DIY Shell Manicure

DIY Shell ManicureSometimes I just really want a beachy, statement manicure. SAID NO ONE EVER! But, that is what Ciate is pedaling with their newest Shell Manicure nail art kit. This kit sells at Sephora for $25 which is more or less highway robbery. You can get the supplies to do this manicure for less than $2 and use nail polish you already own.

As for the shell manicure itself; I thought I was going to hate it. But I have to admit, in the right situation with the right clothes this can actually be cute and appropriate.

This of course can be done as a full manicure but I opted just to do an accent nail. Having a full on shell manicure is, to say the least, a lot.

Below the jump you will find all the info you need to do an at home, DIY shell manicure! Make sure to leave a comment and tell me what you think about this nail trend.


Crushed Shell Nail Art WheelWhat you will need:

  1. A base coat. I used Barielle Barielle Fortifying Nail Builder.
  2. A creme finish nail polish in the color of your choice. I used NYC Tropicoral and Barielle Black Rose.
  3. Crushed Shell Nail Art Glitter. I got mine on eBay for a whopping $1.48 (with free shipping!). It can also be found on Amazon.
  4. An orange stick or thin nail file.

Shell ManicureHow to:

  1. Apply your base coat as normal. Let dry.
  2. Start with one, thin coat of your base color. It’s best to use a creme finish polish. It’s easier to really wedge the shell pieces into a creme polish.
  3. On any nails you want to add shells to, work one at a time and add a thick second layer of color. Immediately sprinkle the shells over the nail (put a piece of paper or paper towel underneath to catch excess ) and press the shells into the polish.
  4. Using an orange stick or nail file go around the edges of the nail and push any shells that need a little help with placement.
  5. Repeat on any other nails you want to add shells to.
  6. Let dry for a good 30 minutes.

And that’s it! I tried using a top coat in various ways (just on the tip, over the entire nail, etc) and it doesn’t work. Skip the top coat entirely.

As with a caviar or a velvet manicure 24 hours is about all you’re going to get out of this before pieces of shell start to fall off. It’s also a bit challenging to live a normal life whist wearing a shell manicure. Hair gets caught between the shells. So does liquid makeup. And lint. This is a night/day out kind of mani.

Shell Manicure NYC Shell Manicure Black Shell Manicure Barielle



  1. I think it looks good as a summer accent nail. Not sure I love it so much that I’d go out of my way to actually do it though, especially given the issues you mentioned. It’s different and eye catching though.

  2. It’s a lot prettier than I thought it’d be, especially that coral-ly pink. For a very special occasion perhaps? Can you imagine though, the damage you could to a nice outfit? I have enough problems with short nails — don’t needs shards on top! Surprised a top coat wouldn’t work. Think I’ll stick with glitter. 🙂

What do you think?