Newspaper nails


Newspaper nails

Creating this look is a bit time consuming and messy, but the results are worth it.  Chances are if you are seeing this, then you have seen several people try the newspaper nail look.  You may even have believe you have seen some unphotoshopped stunningly spectacular results.  These were my results, no special effects used, and I tried a couple of different ways before I settled on this method.  Tips and Hints follow with the instructions!  Have fun!

What you need:

  1. White nail polish (French tip white)
  2. Clear coat polish (any kind of top coat)
  3. A newspaper with a cool article or two. (not that anyone would be able to read the nails once they are done, but it’s the principle of the thing.  I’m an English teacher, so I chose an article about Jane Austin for mine.  🙂
  4. Scissors (to cut up the newspaper)
  5. A small dish or shot glass
  6. A shot of Vodka (or rubbing alcohol) (NOTE: A few places say you can do the newspaper nails just as well with water.  Well, I am here to say, it doesn’t work as well.  For a young person [say, under the age of 21] I won’t blame you for not raiding someone’s alcohol cabinet just to do your nails.  See if there is something called “Isopropyl alcohol” in the medicine cabinet.  Use that.  And remember, NEVER DRINK THAT STUFF.  It DOES NOT work as well as vodka on your insides, only on your nail outsides, right?  Right.)
  7. A paper towel – because you won’t be perfect the first time, let’s face it.
  8. Time – Why time?  Because this is a time-consuming project.  If you don’t have a few hours to baby and protect your nails until the end of this, then wait until you do.


  1. Prep the newspaper by cutting it into 15- 20 pieces about 2 inches  by 2 inches.  Rough estimates are okay.  Basically, this step helps you narrow down the area you will work with and enables you to make sure that your pieces have a lot of writing on them.  You don’t want a lot of blank area on your pieces.  Yes, you have 10 fingers and over 10 newspaper pieces.  You will see why during step 5.
  2. Give your nails two thin coats of white French tip.  It should be opaque, but not too thick because you need to…
  3. LET THE WHITE DRY COMPLETELY.  This is very important.  Do not rush this.  Check to see if they are completely dry by pushing a little with your finger.  If you see a finger skin mark, WAIT LONGER.  You’ll be pressing down on your nails with the newspaper, and it’s going to be messy to start with.
  4. Pour your shot of vodka into a small dish or just leave it in the shot glass.  Get your newspaper strips ready.
  5. The next few steps of this are going to be messy and sometimes frustrating.  DO NOT give up.  If things don’t go well with the transfer, it’s easy to rub off what is on your finger, toss that used piece of newspaper aside, and try with another.
  6. Dip a finger into the vodka, remove, and then immediately press a newspaper piece onto your nail.  DO NOT RUB IT AROUND.  Instead, try to keep the newspaper piece from moving by carefully applying pressures and rocking your finger over the whole surface of the newspaper to adhere it to your finger.  Be patient.  Rock rock rock. Keep firm pressure.  Pray to Buddha or Jesus or any other deity you hold dear.  Wait at LEAST 30 seconds to give the vodka time to work its magic.
  7. CAREFULLY remove the newspaper.  You should have something like a ghostly image of the print on your finger.  If it is awesome, great!  If it’s not, simply rub your fingernail on a piece of paper towel and try, try again.  TIP: I have noticed that where I was able to press the hardest on the nail, the print was the darkest.
  8. Once you have achieved a successful nail, DO NOT REJOICE!  In fact, now you have to be more careful than ever.  At this point you are trapped.  If you brush that fingernail against ANYTHING before the topcoat, it will smear, but it’s impossible to do the rest of your fingernails with newspaper while other nails are drying from topcoat.  The fact is, you have to newsprint ALL of your nails on both hands (trust me here) before you can seal your handiwork with the top coat. So, finish, carefully, all of your nails with newsprint first.
  9. MAKE SURE THE ALCOHOL HAS EVAPORATED and the nail is at least dry before you apply a top coat to seal your masterpiece.  YOU WILL SMEAR YOUR WORK IF THERE IS STILL VODKA ON YOUR FINGERNAIL. This is one of the reasons why alcohol probably works better than water: the alcohol will evaporate faster than water will dry.
  10. Once you have clear coated your nails, BABY THEM.  Yes, your fingers will be covered with newspaper ink.  Deal with this.  Don’t go out into public.  Hide your hands.  Do not feel the need to wash them right away because, duh, your nails are drying.  This is why you need TIME to do these nails.  You might achieve some clean comfort from the ink all over your fingers if you are very careful with a q-tip and some nail-polish remover, but I generally don’t trust myself, and after all of that work, you need to ask yourself, “Do I feel lucky?”  Well, do you?
  11. When EVERYTHING is totally dry, THEN you may wash your hands to get rid of the ink.

And if everything goes swimmingly well, you can astonish your friends, pose your fingers with your favorite page from To Kill A Mockingbird as I have done, or whatever you want.  Have fun!