DIY Nail Decals with Vinyl + free downloads!

how to make nail decals

A couple of weeks ago, myself and Alyse had a small girl gang gathering and experimented with some NAIL DECALS!

While planning this post, we were concerned with how small our Silhouette would be able to cut. To our surprise, our machine cut out even the tiniest details! 

manicure party pink

After brainstorming a couple of really cute themes, we invited some of our gal pals over and we all hung out and decorated our nails with decals. We'll show you how from start to finish you can make your very own customized decals too!

And don't forget to check out our downloads shop to download your own free set of decals too! Cricut AND Silhouette friendly!

Here is everything you'll need for this project:

  • A cutting machine
  • Craftables Permanent Adhesive-Backed Vinyl
  • Weeding tools- whatever you usually use to weed small details
  • Squeegee
  • Clear vinyl transfer tape
  • Cutting mat
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers or weeding spatula (optional)
  • Nailpolish topcoat
  • Nails that have already been painted
  • A ruler
flower diy nail sticker

 Step 1: designing

Before you even get started, measure your nails with your ruler to get a good sense of how large your decals should be. In general, here are some sizes for the measurements to stay within based on where you want your decals:

  • large decal- fingernail: .4" x .4"
  • small decal- fingernail: .15" x .15"
  • large decal- toenail: .5" x .35"
  • small decal- toenail: .2" x .2"

Now that you have your measurements, it's time to start designing! We drew our own designs (which you are more than welcome to use and resize for your own nails!), but it would also be easy to trace any other design ideas you may have within your design software. This is definitely the hardest part of the project, but chances are you've done this before!

cactus nail decal

Step 2: Cutting and Weeding

Once you have your design, press cut. We cut our decals with an autoblade in our Silhouette Cameo. If you're using a Cricut, the vinyl setting works just fine! If you don't have an autoblade on your Silhouette, the Premium blade and a speed of 2 should keep your machine from tearing your vinyl.

Once you have cut your designs, it's time to weed! Now is the time to bring out your pick and any other weeding tools you may have. Because there are some small details, using a lightbox if you have one would help you out a lot as it will make it easier to weed all the small details.

Next, we cut out each design from the vinyl sheet and applied transfer tape. Make sure to use your squeegee to really get the tape to stick, the smaller the details, the more pressure you're going to have to use!

weeding nail decal

Step 3: Applying

Here's the most fun step: applying the decal itself! If you have a chunky decal like a star or a heart, it shouldn't be hard to get the decal to stick to your nail. If you have a decal with more detail like our skull, sun and diamond, it might be easier to have a friend help you place your decal. Make sure to use your squeegee or spatula to really press the decal to the nail. Once the decal seems stuck, peel up the transfer tape.

If you release the transfer tape and realize that the decal isn't where you would like it on your nail, it is fairly easy to peel the decal back up and off your nail. Using a manicure stick can help with this step. I wouldn't recommend re-applying a decal after peeling it off your nail as the adhesivewon't be as strong.

And now the most important step- applying clear coat! If you want your decal to last for up to a week on your nail, apply whatever clear topcoat you usually use and apply it to your nail. If you want to change out your decals every day, clear coat is not needed. You can peel your decal off and put a new one on!

halloween nail decal

Tips for how to cut and apply nail decals:

  • Measure twice, cut once!
  • Use a mat sticky enough to keep your vinyl flat and stuck to make sure your machine can easily cut your decals
  • Use a sharp blade and make sure you have the correct settings (see above)
  • Make sure your polish is 100% dry!
  • Use transfer tape to easily transfer your design to your nail
  • Use a clear coat to ensure your decals stick and stay on your nail
  • Use scrap instead of a new sheet, these decals are tiny!
  • We tried these decals on a regular polish manicure as well as a acrylic nails and a gel manicure and they looked lovely and lasted on all!
  • Tweezers can help you more easily apply the decal to your nail
diy nail decals

How long did the decals last?

  • On nails without topcoat, they lasted up to 5 days
  • On nails with topcoat, they lasted up to 8 days (longer than our manicure!)
  • On toenails without topcoat, they lasted up to 3 weeks
  • On toenails with topcoat, they lasted an entire month. If I didn't take my polish off they probably would have lasted longer!
cloud nail decal

Now that you've seen how easy this project is, we hope you are inspired to change up your manicure. This would be a fun project for birthday parties, girls night or even bridal showers!

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