We Tried It: Spray-On Nail Polish

See how one editor mastered the innovative lacquer application

What It Is: Spray-on nail polish

Who Tried It: Sarah Kinonen, Style & Beauty Editorial Assistant

Why I Did It: It’s practically my job to test the newest (and coolest!) beauty products on the market. Plus, how hard could it be to spray paint my fingers? (Spoiler alert: Maybe a little more difficult than I originally imagined!)

Level Of Difficulty: 6

Brian Nichols/People

Brian Nichols/People

Spray-on nail polish is everywhere this spring. Beauty brands, like Nails Inc., Milk Makeup and China Glaze, have all launched spray-on formulas to give consumers a fun, easy and innovative way to dress up their digits in a flash. And like any good beauty editor, I took it upon myself to try one of them, Nail’s Inc. Paint Can in Shoreditch Lane, (a galactic-inspired silver polish). Here’s how it all went down, step by step:

Step 1: Set your stage
Because the painting process can get messy (read: picture sparkle polish spritzing everywhere!), I recommend investing in a backdrop before working the spray can. It doesn’t have to be expensive — I just used a large white $1 poster board from Rite Aid.

Step 2: Apply a base coat
Like any manicure, this process requires a base coat (I used Nails Inc. 2 in 1 Base and Top Coat) to protect nails from harsh ingredients in the paint. Luckily, the clear lacquer went on evenly and dried in an instant. Next up, it was time to get artsy with the spray paint!

Step 3: Paint away
Because I wasn’t sure how close I needed to be to my fingers, before spritzing, I first tested the paint on the poster board and found that holding the can four to five inches away from my hand was the ideal spot to really get full coverage.

I started with my left hand, spraying from left to right and did so three times to really get every bit of my beds. I then did the same with my right hand. But in between each spray session, which took about three minutes in total, I had to take a breather (so I could literally catch my breath) and step away from the fumes. Besides the strong scent (which was pretty heavy), the process was fairly similar to spray-painting a piece of furniture.

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Brian Nichols/People

Step 4: Add a top coat
After applying the final coat (I did three, just to really cover every nail), wait about a minute or two for everything to dry, and then apply a top coat. I used the same clear coating I used for the base coat.

Step 5: Wash off excess polish
After the paint and top coat dried, it was time to scrub off the extra paint that coated my fingers and nails. This process, which seems tedious, was actually fairly simple. The silver coating washed away without soap after a good two- to three-minute soak-and-scrub session in the sink. Once it’s completely off your hands (and not your nails), you’re done!

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The Verdict: While the application itself can get a little (read: a lot) messy, I was surprised to find how easy the painting process was. For me, two coats proved to be enough and lasted me about a week and garnered tons of compliments (everyone wanted to know where I got my space-inspired mani!). So, will I do this again? If I’ve got a few extra minutes and a vast work area (you know, bigger than my 300-sq. ft. apartment) to apply without breathing in fumes, why not?

–Sarah Kinonen

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