How to Apply Sparkly Nail Polish Right


As has already been firmly established, the holiday season is the perfect time to rock sparkly nails. Whether you choose a golden hue for a Christmas party, blue and silver glitter for Hanukkah, or a multi-colored glitter extravaganza for ushering in the New Year, I have all of the best tips and tricks on applying sparkly nail polish right so you will have no problem achieving a gorgeous, even coat of glitter.

It can be really tough to achieve that perfect, opaque coat of glittery nail polish goodness, because the pieces of glitter are large. In order for the nail polish to not dry too quickly and to have a spreadable texture, companies end up formulating their glitters with too much base and not enough glitter.

Once applied, the glitter looks sparse and uneven- this is not always a bad thing, especially if you just want a subtle wash of sparkly bits. However, parties are not about subtlety, and if there is a time for learning how to apply sparkly nail polish in a solid coat, it is now!

How to Apply Glitter Nail Polish With a Sponge- The Easiest Glitter Nail Hack!

This awesome glitter nail polish hack ensures that you will have an even, ultra-shiny glitter manicure every time. The reason is simple: you use a makeup sponge, which soaks up all of the excess clear base, leaving nothing but glorious glitter to cover your nails.

However, be warned: this method is a little messier than your average polish applications. Don’t worry, though, I have some tips coming up to help you avoid the mess.

• Start with a shaped, clean nail. Cover it with a basecoat. If you want to totally avoid having any bare nail visible, you can also apply a light pale nail polish shade that will complement the glitter.

• Once you’ve picked your glimmering poison for the evening, dab the nail polish brush along the flat corner of a makeup sponge. Make sure the brush is loaded up with a lot of polish ” don’t worry, the sponge will absorb the excess and make sure that you don’t end up with too thick a coat of polish.

• Dab the glitter covered sponge onto your nail, starting at the top and working your way downwards.

• Once your whole nail is covered, finish off with a topcoat, and voila, you’ll have gorgeous sparkle nails!

How to Apply Glitter Nail Polish Without a Sponge

Maybe you don’t have makeup sponges lying around, or maybe you are trying to avoid excess waste. No matter your reason, while the sponge glitter polish application is the easiest, there are still ways to get a fairly opaque glitter nail without it.

Load Up Your Brush Cleverly

• Begin with a clear basecoat, and perhaps a coat of a complementary polish.

• Open up your glitter nail polish, and take out the brush. Wipe the brush off against the inner edge of the bottle.

• Before all of the polish you wiped off drips down into the bottle, grab it and hold it against the rim with the edge of your brush for a few moments. The base will drip down, but the glitter will stay trapped in your brush.

• Sweep the glitter nail polish over your nail.

• If any glitter is removed by the brush during the sweeping, dab the bald spot with your brush to load it up with more glitter.

• Finish off with a coat of topcoat, and you are finished!

Dry Off Your Brush

• Once you’ve prepped your nails with a basecoat, you are good to go.

• After removing your brush from the bottle, wipe it against a paper towel, to soak up most of the base. You will lose some of the glitter this way, but don’t worry, enough will remain on the brush.

• Dab the brush against your nail, until most of the glitter that was on it transfers over.

• Dip it back in the bottle, and wipe it once again on the paper towel. Apply it to the nail.

• Repeat again and again, until you have covered the whole nail.

• Finish everything off with a topcoat to ensure a smooth finish.

Applying Glitter Nail Polish With a Q-Tip

This method is somewhere in between using a brush and using a sponge. It takes a little longer than the sponge polishing method, but the application is more precise. While this method still creates waste, it is considerably less.

• Start with a clean nail, prepped with a base coat.

• Dab a Q-tip with a glitter polish covered brush.

• Dab the Q-tip on the nail, in a stippling motion, until the whole nail is covered.

• If a little bit of cotton off of the Q-tip sticks behind, remove it with a pair of tweezers.

• Once you are finished, end with a clear topcoat.

Use a Q-Tip or Manicure Stick to Apply Sparkly Nail Polish

This is the most precise, yet time-consuming method. If you opt for this glitter nail polish application method, I admire your tenacity and resent the amount of free time you clearly possess. I must admit, this method is the best when you want extremely precise glitter placement, or to create a specific design (gradients and French tips, I’m looking at you).

• As always, start with a basecoat and polish prepped nail.

• Dot a bit of glitter nail polish on a sheet of paper (wax paper works even better).

• Dip a toothpick or manicure stick into the blog of glitter, and pick up as many pieces as you can.

• Gently dab the toothpick against the nail, at the precise spot where you would like to place the glitter.

• Repeat ad infinitum.

• Ten years later, your manicure will be complete.

Other Glitter Nail Polish Tips

• Before you start, roll the bottle of glitter nail polish between your hands. This will prevent larger chunks of glitter from sinking to the bottom, and will distribute all of the shimmery pieces evenly within the base.

• For easy removal, apply regular liquid glue with a brush, instead of a basecoat. Once you’re sick of your glitter nails (or once they start to chip), you can simply peel the whole thing off.

• To avoid having your cuticles covered in bits of glitter (especially if you opted for the makeup sponge application method), cover your cuticle and the skin surrounding it with a thin layer of either liquid latex, or plain liquid glue. By the time you’re done applying your polish, the latex or glue will have dried, and you’ll be able to peel them off along with all the mess.

• For a fuller opacity, apply a coat of pale polish (either white, or a light color that will complement your glitter) over your basecoat, before applying the glitter.

• To get a multi-dimensional glitter effect, as well as extra opacity, use a complementary nail polish with a shimmery finish, and then layer the glitter over it.

• If, for whatever reason, you weren’t able to reach the glitter opacity level you desired, you can combine methods, and add individual glitter pieces to your nail with the tip of a toothpick.

So now that you have all the know-how, are you going to rock a glitter nail polish for New Year’s Eve? Which application method are you going to try? Comment and let me know!


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Written by Maya Adivi
Maya is a makeup artist and skincare expert based in Yerevan, Armenia. She eschews buzz words, in favour of giving accurate and science-based advice. A citizen of the world, she was born in Israel, and has also lived in the US, Canada, and, of course, Armenia. Aside from beauty, she is also passionate about literature, beer, politics, and playing the ukulele.