Nail art has reached new levels—today's full sets are legit works of art. But sometimes, when you don’t have the budget to hit a nail studio every couple of weeks or the time to sit there while the tech creates a tiny masterpiece, your best bet is nail art you can actually do yourself—and have it look good. That’s where magnetic nail polish comes in.
“Magnetic polish is trending [because] it’s such a foolproof way of achieving a nail art look at home,” says Nails INC founder Thea Green. “You don’t have to be super skilled with a small-point brush or have an incredibly steady hand."
The finished mani might look like magic, but you can thank science for the impressive results. “There are tiny magnetic filaments in the polish that, when not activated, just give the look of a shimmery polish shade,” Green explains. “Whilst the polish is still wet you hold a magnet very close to the nail (not touching the wet polish) for a few seconds.”
Meet the Expert
Thea Green is the founder of Nails INC, known for creating on-trend polishes and collaborating with brands and celebrities such as Diane von Furstenberg and Alexa Chung.
It seems simple, but that’s all there is to it. If you want to play with magnetic polish, you can experiment with different magnets, which will create different looks. “Try painting the nail bed and, while it’s wet, use the magnet vertically to set the wave pattern,” Green says. “Leave to dry. Then paint the tip and, while it’s wet, use the magnet horizontally. Of course, you can also use the polish to do a fancy magnetic French.”
Though magnetic nail polish is typically a cinch to apply, there are a few common mistakes that should be avoided—starting with not working on each nail one by one. “For a regular manicure, you’ll paint each nail and then start over from the beginning for the second coat and then the top coat,” Green says. “With magnetic polish, you apply your base coat as normal and then your first layer of magnetic polish as normal, working nail by nail." But when you apply your second coat of magnetic polish, the routine switches up. "Use the magnet while the polish is wet, and then move on to the next nail and repeat," says Green. To avoid smudging, don’t move the magnet—keep it still.
Nail prep for using magnetic nail polish is the same as any other manicure. “Clean the nail, remove old polish, push back the cuticles, apply a base coat, and begin,” Green says.
Remember that a magnetic mani is a low-stakes DIY situation. “The great, great thing about painting your nails yourself is the zero commitment involved,” Green says. “You make a mistake or don’t like what you’ve done? Wipe it clean and start again. Have fun.”
Here’s how to use magnetic nail polish for that velvety finish, according to Green:
Start With a Base Coat
Apply one coat of your favorite base coat.
Paint One Coat of Color
Paint one coat of your magnetic shade of choice on each finger, and allow it to fully dry.
Add a Coat and Begin to Magnetize
Working nail by nail, paint a second layer of magnet polish and, while it’s still wet, hover over each nail—as close to the nail as possible—with the included magnet for 10 to 15 seconds.
Move Your Magnet as Needed
Watch as the polish reacts and changes with your movements.
Finish With a Top Coat
Finish with your favorite top coat for glossy results.