How To Make And Apply Waterslide Decals To Nails

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We all know that 2020 has been a rollercoaster. While in quarantine we ended up doing a lot of DIY projects. Many of our DIY projects involve using Hayes Paper Co Waterslide Decal Paper and this one is no different. Let's talk about making nail decals using clear and white waterslide decal paper!

The first step of course is to purchase the waterslide decal paper that is compatible with your printer. If you use an inkjet printer you will need Inkjet Waterslide Paper. If you use a laser printer you will need to purchase the Laser Waterslide Decal Paper

Once you have the correct paper for your printer, you can then start creating your nail decals. You can design and create your nail decal images using many programs. A few examples would be Photoshop, Silhouette Studio Software, Designspace, Microsoft Word and many more programs can be used. Images that work best are high resolution with a pixel size over 300 DPI on white or transparent backgrounds. You will need to upload your nail artwork images into the program that you think will work best for you. 

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Now that the nail artwork image is uploaded, you will want to size your image to your nail. For single decorative images we would suggest sizing to about half an inch (0.5”) or 13mm. If you want to create a full wrap around the nail, the sizing is going to vary depending on your nail length (everyones is different). You can always use a soft tape or ruler to get an estimated nail width and height. 

Once you have sized all your nail images (one per nail) and lined them up on the paper size (A4) ready for printing, we suggest doing a test print on regular paper. Use the test paper print as a guide to see if you have sized your images correctly. Do you think the images are too big? Too Small? Just right? If you feel they are too big or too small you can resize and try again. Once you have your sizing just right then proceed to loading and printing on your waterslide decal paper. Be sure to set print settings to high quality print, gloss photo paper settings. Let the printed paper dry for 3 minutes. For more tips on designing and printing nail decals, check out Sadler Up Nails Waterslide Nail Video. 

If you are using Inkjet Waterslide Decal Paper you will need to seal your images after you print them. We suggest using Rustoleum 2X Clear to seal your images, however you can use any clear, acrylic spray paint/ sealer. If you are using Laser Waterslide Decal Paper it is not required that you seal your image but some people still like to seal their laser decal paper.

Time to cut your nail decals out! You can use scissors and cut them out by hand or you can use a precision cutting machine such as a Silhouette Cameo or a Cricut machine.

Now that you have all of your nail decals cut out and ready to go it’s time to give your nails a base coat of nail polish. Nail decals can be applied to your real nails or a fake acrylic nail, but they need a base coat first. Remember if you are using clear waterslide paper you will want your nail pollish to be white or a light color, as the decal is transparent and so the nail base color will show through. If you are using white waterslide paper then you can use any nail polish color as a base coat. Once you apply the color of your liking to your nails, apply a clear top coat. Let your nails dry. 

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Image by Sadler Up Nails 

Now you are ready to apply your nail decals! Sadler Up Nails has a great video tutorial showing how to apply her Butterfly decals, which we recommend watching in addition to following the instructions below:

Place your nail decals into room temperature water to activate the adhesive that is on the back of the waterslide decal paper. You can place the whole decal into the water using your fingers or use tweezers. Tweezers can make holding and handling the tiny decals much easier. Once the adhesive is activated the decal will start to easily slide around the backing, this is when the decal is ready to be applied. You can use your tweezers to remove the decal from the backing and then place onto your nail or slide the backing off using your fingers. We like to use a paper towel to press down on the decal once it has been applied and positioned onto the nail. Let the decal dry as you continue to finish the rest of your nails. Once all your decals are applied and completely dry, apply a clear top coat of nail polish over the decal.

Wala! You are done and you have adorable nails!

You can easily remove the waterslide decals and nail polish with nail polish remover. We encourage you to have fun with new designs once you’re ready for a change.