How To Apply Chunky Glitter To Gel Nails

Lately, anything goes in the name of fashion and beauty. As far as nail art is concerned, the wilder, the better! Nail art is an actual art form—from miniaturized murals and paintings on nails to the intricate placement of crystals and glitter, there are endless possibilities and combinations. We have researched the best method to apply chunky glitter for the utmost glamour.

Applying chunky glitter to your nails can be an incredibly simple way to dress up your manicure. We've researched the various ways you can apply glitter, and we’re here to share them with you in a few easy steps:

  • Select your glitter
  • Choose your brush
  • Apply a base coat
  • Adding and layering glitter on top
  • Sealing in glitter and curing your nails

Read on to learn what is involved in each of these steps to apply glitter to your nails. We break down the process so that even the most novice nail artist can do it with ease.

Multicolored shiny manicure on long nails close-up, How To Apply Chunky Glitter To Gel Nails

Select Your Glitter

What Is The Best Type Of Glitter To Use On Gel Nails?

As with many beauty products, the choice of which glitter to try can be overwhelming since there are many. Of course, this comes down mostly to personal preference, and it depends on the look you are trying to achieve. Loose, fine powdery glitter gives a sparkly and dainty appearance.

Chunky glitter (which sometimes can contain fun shapes like stars in addition to large flakes) gives off a more funky vibe. We highly recommend using glitter made especially for nails for the best outcome instead of generic craft glitter.

Check out this pack of colors of chunky holographic glitter from Amazon.

Here is a pack of colors of fine, loose glitter from Amazon.

Woman receiving a manicure in a nail salon

Select Your Brush

Is A Special Nail Brush Required?

To apply glitter to your nails, you can use something as simple as the brush that comes in your nail polish or step up your nail game with a professional application brush. Nail brushes come in all different sizes to serve many different purposes.

Professionals recommend using a slightly smaller, rounded application brush for precision. You can mix the glitter with acrylic or gel polish to be sure it adheres to the nail.

Does Nail Brush Size And Shape Matter?

Whether to use a flat or squared brush instead of a round-tipped brush has all to do with accuracy. To ensure the best coverage of your nail (or someone else’s), a brush that is rounded contours better to the natural nail shape. A square or flat brush can lead to excess glitter or acrylic being applied, along with an overall sloppy application.

This nail art brush set from Amazon is perfect for beginners and professionals alike.

Apply Your Base Coat

In this step, you select and apply your gel nail polish. If you have or apply acrylic nails, the gel should be applied over the acrylic. As mentioned before, if you go with acrylic nails, you can mix the glitter into the acrylic. Your gel polish can be either clear or colored. You want to be sure not to cure the polish before applying the glitter, to be sure it adheres to the nail.

Check out this gel polish kit from Amazon.

Add And Layer Glitter On Top

While your gel base coat is still wet and tacky, you can begin to apply the glitter. The easiest and most precise way to do this is to build your layers of glitter. Take your brush, add a small amount of gel or acrylic to it, and dip it into the glitter. It is best to dab it onto your nail little bits at a time instead of painting it on, as you would with regular nail polish.

What Is The Best Top Coat To Use Over Glitter?

"Clear" As Day

Lastly, you want to apply your topcoat and make sure your nails are cured. More often than not, if you're applying glitter to your nails or a client's nails, you're trying to achieve a sparkly, glitzy look. You can never go wrong with a clear, shiny topcoat to encapsulate the glitter in tons of shine. This is the most obvious and often most appealing way to show off a glittery mani!

This is a beautiful example of sealing in chunky, holographic glitter with a clear topcoat.

This video is a great step-by-step tutorial of how to seal in chunky glitter with gel polish!

Can You Put A Matte Topcoat Over Glitter?

Of course, with most nail art and beauty processes as a whole, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and entirely up to personal preference. You can opt for a matte topcoat for a different appearance from the usually glossy application of glitter. The downfall of a matte topcoat is that it offers very little, if any, protection from chips and wear.

Multicolored shiny manicure on long nails close-up, How To Apply Chunky Glitter To Gel Nails

Extremely popular and on-trend is a "jelly sandwich." This is where a colored gel polish is applied, followed by a layer of chunky glitter, then "sandwiched" in by applying another layer of the colored polish. It is then topped off with a clear, matte topcoat.

This video shows how to make a "jelly sandwich" glitter manicure.

You could also "sprinkle" glitter on top of a colored polish to add texture. This will make them appear sandy or dusted.

Check out this matte topcoat, available on Amazon

The Curing Process

One of the best investments you will make for your nails is a UV light to cure your nails. In this day and age, who has time to sit around waiting for nails to dry? These machines work almost instantly and have your nails dry in a matter of minutes! Also, they aren't a total bank-breaker, either, and are incredibly affordable.

Check out this UV nail drying light on Amazon.

How Do You Do Glitter Ombre Nails With Gel?

Perhaps one of the biggest trends with nail art, ombre nails are always impressive to look at. There are a few ways to achieve the ombre look you most desire.

Here is an example of using an ombre glitter technique on accent nails.

Using A Sponge

A simple and easy way to obtain a glitter ombre effect is to apply a transparent gel nail polish layer onto a cosmetic sponge. Then, apply the glitter, almost in stripes, onto the cosmetic sponge as well. Dab the sponge onto a nail (with clear or a colored base gel coat already applied, but not dry). This will transfer the glitter from the sponge onto the nail.

You can repeat this to achieve as much glitter, and as subtle an ombre, as you wish! Seal in the glitter with the top coat of your choice to finish the look.

This pack of sponges from Amazon is perfect for this method of applying glitter.

Painting On The Glitter

This technique is much more hands-on. Literally! In this case, you would start with a gel base coat (colored or clear is up to you!) Take one color of glitter at a time, and layer the glitter on the nail. You can start at the top or bottom of the nail, whichever is easiest for you.

Use a painting motion as you usually would with nail polish. The next color would be applied the same way, only slightly above or below the other color. You can repeat this as many or as few times as you prefer to attain the look you're after.

Specific Placement

You also have the option of following the steps as described earlier in this article by placing one or a few chunky pieces of glitter on at a time. This placement method gives you a much more accurate application, and you get to specifically choose at what point one color leads into another.

This is another beautiful example of glitter ombre nails

Finishing Up

The finish, type of glitter, and exactly how sparkly you want your nails to be are totally up to you! There are a few techniques that you can use to apply glitter to your liking. The options are endless as far as what you can do to experiment!

Before you go, be sure to check out these other articles that may be of interest to you:

Can You Use Regular Nail Polish On Gel Nails?

How To Remove Nail Glue From Fake Nails [2 Methods Explored]

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