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How To Apply Decals

February 7, 2021 | Nail Art, How To

Water decals are a quick and easy way to adorn your nails with intricate nail art. Let us show you how to apply water decals. No messy clean ups or removals, water decals give you the nails you want in a fraction of the time required for hand-painted art.

These thin designs are printed on a special paper that includes a dissolvable layer between the design and the paper, which means they don’t leave lines or ridges like some stickers.

Perfect for beginners or seasoned pros, water decals are a creative and fun way to express yourself. From floral to geometric patterns, seasonal designs and plaids, Picture Polish has a water decal for everyone!

Water Decals PP01


Before you start, collect your tools first. Nothing fancy, don’t worry! You’ll need the water decals, a nail polish, tweezers, a pair of scissors, and Looking Glass topcoat. Once you’re all set, follow these steps and you will be on your way to fabulous nails!

How to Apply Water Decals Steps:

  1. Choose the Picture Polish water decal you want to wear.


  1. Apply a coat of white polish like Stamped White and let dry completely. You can do both hands at once or one at a time. NPA’s choice! Just make sure the polish is dry before continuing.


Pro tip: Depending on choice of decal, a different colour basecoat may be more appropriate so don’t be scared to play around and try different combinations. The sky’s the limit!


  1. Using scissors, cut out the decal that matches the size of your nail. If possible, leave a blank section of the paper to grip with tweezers for simple removal. Peel back the protective plastic and discard.


Pro tip: If the decals are too wide, trim the sides before moving onto the next step. Or, if you would prefer to use a specific portion of the nail decal, cut out only that part. Once the decals are wet, they are more challenging to trim, so deciding beforehand will save you from a challenging application process.


  1. With tweezers, immerse the decal in room temperature water. A shallow glass or bowl works well.


  1. After the decal has soaked for 10-15 seconds, remove from water. Hold the extra wet paper with your fingers. Using tweezers, gently slide the decal off the paper. If the decal does not remove easily, return it to the water for another 10 seconds to avoid tearing and ripping. Do not attempt to dry the decal before application. Keeping the water decal wet will make the next few steps a breeze.


  1. Immediately after removing the decal from the paper, line up the bottom of the decal along your cuticle and place the rest against your nail. If the decal is too long or a little wrinkled, don’t worry!


  1. With a soft brush like The Clean Up Brush, gently press the decal onto your nail, starting at the middle of the cuticle line and pressing outward. Slow and steady application will smooth the water decal and avoid tearing. Repeat until the decal is evenly applied.


  1. Bend any excess decal around the tip of your nail for extra wear and flawless coverage. If the decal is still too wide, use The Clean Up Brush dipped in acetone-free remover to carefully dissolve the wider parts.


  1. To remove excess decal around the tip of your nail, use a Glass Manicure Stick to apply pressure against the underside of the nail tip. Rub from side to side several times. The friction will create a break in the decal and the excess can either be gently removed with tweezers or with your fingers.


  1. For the finishing touch, when the water decal has dried, add a coat of Looking Glass Topcoat. Don’t forget to swipe across the tip of your nail to seal the decal!


When you’re ready for a new look, remove the decals as you would for traditional nail polish. Soak a pad or cotton ball with nail polish remover and hold against the nail, rubbing until the decal dissolves. Repeat until your nail is clean and ready for a fresh mani!