If you're on a quest for the most awe-inducing manicure in your city (or at least your office), we might have found a solid contender for you. Meet the "oil slick manicure," which is exactly what it sounds like: a nail job that looks like the swirly, iridescent oil film atop water, or the pretty pool of oil left on the ground from a vehicle that should probably make an appointment at the nearest auto repair shop.
Reddit user skelezombie posted her self-done mani on RedditLaqueristas and was met with not only immediate appreciation and hundreds of "upvotes," but a hearty demand for how to recreate the manicure. In fact, the top comment simply read, "How??"
Skelezombie gave a brief how-to, saying, "I put down a black base, then painted each nail with 4 colours in stripes and swirled the polish with a bobby pin while it was still wet."
She noted within the thread that she used duo and multichrome polishes, which are multi-dimensional nail polishes that change color depending on how the light hits them. ILNP makes some seriously impressive multichromes, and nail polish sellers on Etsy tend to specialize in them, as well. The multichrome polishes and the swirling are what make these nails look so “oil slick”-esque.
We wanted to get a more specific rundown of the how-to, so we reached out to NYC-based celebrity manicurist Erica Marton to see how she would recreate the manicure.
Step one, says Marton, is to paint all your nails a metallic green duo-color. She recommended something similar to Chanel’s Peridot. If you’ve got a leash on your wallet, some less pricey dupes are China Glaze Rare & Radiant, OPI Just Spotted the Lizard, GAP Gold Rush and Deborah Lippmann Swagga Like Us.
“Paint your nails solid and then wait for them to dry — maybe like 10 minutes. You want them just dry enough but not wet,” says Marton. “Then, I would take a metallic blue, purple, and another green and put tiny little blobs all over the nails.”
The next step is where the magic happens. Marton says to place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the nails ASAP, while the dots are still wet. Make sure you keep the wrap flat instead of crinkled.
“While the nails are still wet, gently smush the saran wrap and rub it around,” she says, adding that you shouldn’t press too hard. After you’re finished, peel the wrap off your nail. “This will give your nails that weird, cool, swirly, almost marbleized look.”
Alternatively, you could use skelezombie’s pin-swirling method. Marton says if you do it this way, though, you should use a very light hand when swirling the colors around. Better yet, use a striping brush instead, as it’ll be easier to control and less likely to leave indentations.
If you find yourself with indentations or mistakes, go back in and fill the dents with whatever color you prefer. A good topcoat works, as well.
“At the end of the day, this is nail art and nobody is going to be like, ‘Oh my god! That one nail doesn’t look right,’” Marton assures us. “It’s kind of a swirly mess, anyway, and it’s totally cool if there are imperfections.”