When I saw this picture of Harley Viera-Newton’s cat nails, I instantly knew I had to figure out how to do it myself. I thought about trying this method for DIY nail transfers, but it was unclear how well it works and which types of printers it works with. With a little more searching, I discovered that the secret to making your own nail decals is rub-on transfer paper, which you can easily buy online. It’s a little like applying temporary tattoos to your nails, and I’m really excited about the possibilities. Anything you can print, you can put on your nails! (If you want to do text, just make sure to reverse it).
Anti-chip top coat (I used Revlon Extra Life Top Coat)
Printable rub-on transfer paper (I used Grafix Clear Rub-Onz Inkjet Laser Film)
1. Create your cat face designs in a photo editing program. Measure your nails and re-size cat images so the faces will fit on your nails. Or just download mine:
2. Paint your nails in a couple of coats of a light, neutral color. Let dry completely.
3. The Grafix transfer paper I used came with instructions, a wooden stick, and two types of paper. The instructions were a little confusing, so I’ll clarify a bit. The two kinds of paper are the transfer film, and the adhesive film. The transfer film is the one you actually print on, and it is thin and has one matte side and one shiny side. If you put your hand on one side of it you can see your fingers through it. The adhesive film is actually a piece of paper coated with adhesive, with a clear piece of plastic adhered to it. So one side is matte, and the other is glossy. It’s thicker and less transparent than the transfer film.
4. Print your cat faces on the matte side of the transfer film. I printed mine as close to the edge as possible, so I would use as little film as possible.
5. Cut out a piece of the transfer film with all of your designs on it. Cut a piece of the adhesive film slightly larger. This was the most confusing part for me. Take the piece of the adhesive film and slowly peel the two layers apart, making sure that the adhesive stays stuck to the clear plastic, NOT the paper layer. Place the adhesive film backing (the paper layer) beneath your transfers, and then cover the transfers with the clear adhesive film, sticky-side down. Use a craft stick or coin to rub the top of the clear adhesive film and smooth out any bubbles. The adhesive film backing is only there to keep the adhesive from sticking to the surface below your transfers, so after you cut them out it will fall off.
6. Cut out the designs, trimming as close as possible to the printed areas. You now have your own transfers!
7. To apply your transfers to your nails, peel off the clear adhesive film and carefully place face-down on your nail. It will be sticky, so try to position it where you want it before you let it touch your nail. I was able to carefully re-position my transfers as long as I didn’t press down on them.
8. Gently rub the top of the design, which is the shiny side of the transfer film, to help bond the design to your nail. The instructions say to leave it alone for several minutes to bond, but on some of my nails the transfer film immediately started to peel away. On others I let it bond for a couple of minutes, and then peeled away the paper. For some I had to burnish more, than use tweezers to help slowly peel away the paper.
9. Repeat for all ten nails, then paint with top coat.
Amaze friends, acquaintances, and cats with your ridiculous nails!
My name is Rachel and I live in wonderful Portland, OR. Transient Expression is about fashion, style, and DIY. I love to share craft projects, cute outfits, recipes, and inspiration for living a handmade life.