Your Guide to the Spray-On Nail Polish Trend

Updated 07/20/17


There's no denying we have infinite admiration for nail technicians. They transform our worn-down tips into clean, polished nails, and for that, we will forever be grateful. Sure, we'd all love to have a manicurist on speed dial, but this isn't "Gossip Girl" (as much as we wish it was), and we're not Blair Waldorf (sigh). Sometimes, a trip to the salon is often unrealistic or pricey, and in those moments, we're forced to turn to our own devices. Enter spray-on nail polish, the alleged answer to our woes.

We've been introduced to countless new methods to quell the universal qualms of nail care, but spray-on nail polish, a seemingly easier method than traditional polish, offers a foolproof solution for those who can't quite paint with a steady hand. But even so, the prospect still makes us skeptical. Does it get everywhere? How do you get it off your skin? To answer these and other burning questions, we asked Nina Werman, founder and brand director of Valley Nail Salon, based in NYC. Keep reading to find out everything you've ever wanted to know and more about spray-on nail polish.

How It Works

"The main purpose of spray-on nail polish is very DIY," Werman explains. It's a must-have for someone who wants the convenience of not leaving their home while still getting a salon-quality finish. Start off with a base coat (as you would before applying standard polish) so the paint has something to grip on to. And remember that spray-on polish is just that—a spray. It's probably common knowledge, but we recommend setting up paper towels under your hand before you begin to avoid getting the paint on other surfaces. The width of the spray is usually quite wide, so aim to do it in an area of your home that you don't mind being a bit messy in.

For best results, shake well beforehand, and aim to keep the dispenser about six inches away from your fingers while applying. It might be tempting to spray it close to your nails to avoid a mess, but we recommend refraining from that to avoid an uneven coat.

Don't worry if it gets all over your fingers, embrace the disarray, and finish up with a topcoat—two layers if you want a glossier finish. (Note: You can use the same polish you used for the base or invest in a value pack duo.)

Last but not least comes the cleanup. "With spray-on, there is an extra step of washing off the excess, which makes more sense if you're at home doing your own nails," says Werman. To rid the layer of residue collecting on your cuticles and skin is rather simple: As Werman explains, use warm, soapy water, and slowly massage the remaining polish away. The result? A rapid manicure with evenly applied polish sans the need for a meticulous cleanup around your cuticles.

When it's time to remove the paint from your nails, use regular remover, as you normally would. The downside is that some users have reported that the polish doesn't last long, so it may be worth testing out a few formulas to find out which one works best.

Spray Can Nail Polish
Nails inc Spray Can Nail Polish $12

Quell the anxiety of prepping for last-minute plans with a quick fix to bare nails. You can skip the salon and get evenly applied polish every time with the push of a button. The collection offers more natural colors along with unique shades.

China Glaze Nail Spray $7

This revolutionary nail polish belongs right below lipstick and perfume on your list of quick-apply products. China Glaze's collection includes four brilliant shimmer polishes for funky galactic/Coachella vibes.

So, to try or not to try? From our perspective, it's a helpful solution for those who have trouble painting a neat manicure, but for someone who prefers a salon, it might not be the best choice. Werman weighs in to offer a helpful analogy: "It's a similar situation if you think about tanning," she explains. "Some people like to apply their own sunless tanner at home, and others like the professional experience of a custom airbrush spray tan. It all comes down to preference." The ball's in your court.

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