‘The Force Awakens’: Star Wars Nail Art Tutorial

Manicures and Star Wars. Nope, this isn’t a “which one of these is not like the others” puzzle. When I randomly ran across the the Cover Girl Star Wars makeup collection of nail polish, I bought them all. OK, well, FIRST I bought the lipsticks because I also really love lipstick. Then I went back and bought all the matching polishes. Because LIMITED EDITION. I mean, that’s the nerd equivalent of a dog whistle.

The problem was that I had sort of become tangentially addicted to nail wraps because they were so much prettier! And there were designs! And it was EXCITING. However, my cheap self decided that if I had just dropped a ridiculously obscene amount of money on nail polish, I couldn’t just let it sit in a drawer. They needed to be used in a way that incorporated as many polishes as was humanly possible at one time.

This led me to my mortal crafting enemy, Pinterest.

Originally planning a Pinbusted/Pintrusted post, I scoured the Source of All Crafting Things That Make Me Sad. (Note: there will be a Pinbusted/Pintrusted post in the near future documenting All The Failures.) As I have mentioned in the past, my OCD tendencies often mean that I bite down hard on an idea and shake it like a dog with prey until I get it right. Thus came about “The Most Awesome Star Wars Manicure.” Since anything beauty epically stymies me, I would like to rest you all assured that this is possibly the most fool proof way to do a cool manicure in about an hour and a half.

1) Assemble all your goodies.The two things that may not be the most obvious would be teeny, tiny, super-sharp scissors and tweezers. These will be used for cutting tape and applying it.

Courtesy Karen Walsh
Courtesy Karen Walsh

2) Lay out the polishes you want to use. While out running errands tonight, I slipped into Sally Beauty Supply and asked the extremely helpful young woman working there what her favorite base coat and long-wearing top coat were. The ones in the picture are the ones recommended. Having never used these before, I cannot vouch for them. As regards the colored polishes, I used my Star Wars collection, but any polish would work. For one hand, I went with red overlaid with black. For the other, I used the gold overlaid by green. Whatever colors you ultimately choose, always later the darker over the lighter color.

3) Cut your tape strips. Now, let me be clear: I am a very, very (okay, bordering on compulsively) cheap person when it comes to certain things. In terms of disposable items, I prefer the cheapest options. If you want to skip the tape slicing step, go ahead and buy the pre-made rolls in the store. In fact, they probably work even better. However, I looked at the price of those things and was all, “Ohhh goooooooodness no” since you’re only throwing them out anyway.

a) To cut the tape strips: hold the tweezers in your non-dominant hand. (For me, my left hand)

Courtesy Karen Walsh
Courtesy Karen Walsh

b) Grab the tape with the tweezers. The nice part of this is that if you can eyeball how close to the tweezer edge you hold the tape, you can make pretty even strips.

c) Keep the tweezers on the outside edge of the tape. (In other words, if you’re using your left hand, have them along the left edge and keep the wider, leftover tape on the right side). Always keep the wider, uncut edge on the outside of the scissors since it makes for more even strips. I learned this the hard way.

Courtesy Karen Walsh
Courtesy Karen Walsh

d) Using your dominant hand, cut the tape. Note: be gentle since the tape rips easily.

Courtesy Karen Walsh
Courtesy Karen Walsh

e) For each letter, you want one strip per edge OR per part of a curve. In other words, the “s” will be three strips and the “d” will be three strips. This is where you want to plan out the design.
S: 3 strips
I: 1 strip
T: 2 strips
H: 3 strips

Courtesy Karen Walsh
Courtesy Karen Walsh

J: 3 strips
E: 4 strips
D: 3 strips
I: 1 strip

Courtesy Karen Walsh
Courtesy Karen Walsh

4) Now that the prep work is done, start with the nail painting. I used a base coat and then the lighter colors. Left hand was red. Right hand was gold.

5) Because I am impatient, I use the Revlon Liquid Quick Dry. I love this stuff. Give your nails long enough to be tacky not wet. Then wipe this stuff on your tacky nails. BOOM dry. Totally worth the money. It’s oily which is a little bit of a problem for the next step. However, a quick wipe with a cloth or rinse with water would be ok at this point because YOUR NAILS ARE DRY. Your nails MUST be dry before you move on to step 6. It is of the utmost importance or you’re going to smudge all the nails.

6) Now comes the fun part. Lay the tape strips on your nails to make the letters. I like my nails the way I like my tattoos – so I can see them. I find looking at my nails aesthetically pleasing. As such, I like the designs to face me. So, I made the words face in. You can totally do it facing out. I tried that first. I was sad. I redid them the way I like them. To each his own. Judge not lest ye be judged, or so they say.

Courtesy Karen Walsh
Courtesy Karen Walsh

7) Do ONLY one hand at a time. This might seem obvious, but I feel that if I’m doing a tutorial I’d like to be particularly clear. Mainly since you’re going to need to use your hands, it’s better to not smudge and to do one at a time. Also, you can either use the tweezers for this or not. It depends on how well the tape is sticking. Try to make the tape lie as flat as possible. Make sure your tape strips are long enough that they hang off your nails. Otherwise, no WAY are you peeling those stinkers off easily. Remember: since your nails are hopefully totally dry at this point, you don’t need to worry about ruining your bottom coat.

8) SLATHER on the darker color. I mean, really, just get it on there. Make sure you see none of the bottom coat peeking through. Drip some drops in those corners. Really get that darker color all over the place. Your hands should look like this:

Courtesy Karen Walsh
Courtesy Karen Walsh

9) Here comes the most important part. And because of that, I will capitalize, bold, and underline it:

MAKE SURE YOUR NAILS ARE DRY BEFORE CONTINUING. THIS DARKER TOP LAYER MUST BE DRY BEFORE CONTINUING. TACKY DRY SHOULD BE OK. BUT IT MUST NOT BE WIPEABLE. I REPEAT: IT.MUST.NOT.BE.WIPEABLE.

10) Take your tweezers and slowly, gently pull the tape strips off. Slo-w-ly. No, that’s too fast. Don’t rip it off like the dishes on a tablecloth magic trick. Try to find the last piece of tape that you laid down and start with that one. This way you are peeling the pieces one.at.a.time. Slow.Ly. If you see that polish OTHER than that attached to the tape is peeling, let your polish dry a little longer. This is TOTALLY the key. TOTALLY. Think about it the same way you would if you were paining a wall. Same process.

Courtesy Karen Walsh
Courtesy Karen Walsh

11) Fill in any areas that you would like to be covered more. See that edge where there was more red to the left of that top curve? Just gently blot a little black polish. Want to make the E not reach all the way to the right edge of that nail? Again, just drip a little bit of the nail polish along the side of that nail bed. BOOM. You’ve made that background all darker.

Courtesy Karen Walsh
Courtesy Karen Walsh

12) Plop on some top coat. I feel this is pretty important since it not only protects the manicure but also keeps those rough edges from catching on things. Since you have areas with only one layer of polish and the top layer pokes up a bit, those edges where you pulled off the tape get a little rough. Cover that up with a nice, thick top coat. Slop that clear stuff on there. It also tends to make the two polishes look more blended.

13) Clean up your edges and take a nifty picture. Show your friends. Feel all Pinteresty.

Courtesy Karen Walsh
Courtesy Karen Walsh

Karen Walsh is a part time, extended contract, first year writing instructor at the University of Hartford. In other words, she's SuperAdjunct, complete with capes and Jedi robe worn during grading. She also works as a contract internal regulatory compliance auditor for banks. In addition, she writes comics and artist reviews at www.cosplayconnectuniversity.com.She works in order to support knitting, comics, tattoo, and museum membership addictions. She has one dog, one husband, and one son who all live with her just outside of Hartford, CT.