Newspaper nails

Being a nail polish addict, I’m always looking for the latest trends, whether it be neon brights, neutrals, or pastels. I’m willing to wear any color, and rock any style on my nails. For me, it’s a creative outlet, where I’m truly free to explore any wacky trend I find.

I came across a new nail design where newspaper letters are transferring onto nails using alcohol.

Ideally. Yes, Ideally. It would look like this (random google image, you can find tons online):

I went about attempting to get this chic, quirky nail look–a perfect outlet for my inner book worm!

I found directions from here, but this trend is exploding everywhere so be sure to check out tutorials on google and youtube:


  • 1 Small glass
  • Rubbing alcohol or vodka
  • 10 Strips of newspaper (big enough to cover each nail)
  • Any light-colored nail polish (whites and pastels work best)
  • Clear top coat polish


  1. Polish your nails with your desired coats and let dry
  2. Pour some rubbing alcohol/vodka in the small glass
  3. Dip your (dried) nail in the rubbing alcohol/vodka (make sure you wet whole nail)
  4. Place and press a strip of the newspaper on your nail and hold firmly but careful for 30 seconds. (do NOT Move the strip around)
  5. Remove strip and repeat on each nail or a select few nails if desired
  6. Finally, polish your nails with a good clear top coat to seal the deal
Sounds easy right?
Except for a couple of problems…

1. I don’t have rubbing alcohol (or vodka for that matter! yeah i know what you were thinking). Seriously, you would think a normal household item would be easy to find, but I searched and searched and nothing came up.
2.  I had been seriously needing to replenish my top coat supply, since mine had taken on an icky yellowish tinge, and was becoming all gloopy. I had been resigned to just wearing colors and forgoing the top coat out of laziness.
3.  It’s summer break after college, so I’m at my parents, AKA none of my polishes are here. Great, so I don’t even have a decent nude polish, except an old Estee Lauder that seemed a bit sketch, if you get my drift. (how old is that polish anyway?….don’t want to know).
But, did I let that stop me? Of course not. Even though I had none of the right “materials,” I was determined to get newspaper nails. I replaced “alcohol” with nail polish remover, and I used my mom’s way too old Estee Lauder nail polish. [N.B. Do not follow my poor example – avoid expired nail polish remover!!]
Here are my nails before, icky and chipped:
I used nail polish remover and cleaned things up…
Then grab (unexpired) nude nail polish, strips of newspaper, and of course q tips – a manicure essential. Here is where I have to give you a tip. Use an opaque nude color (or any color, but the letters will show up better on whites, beiges, etc). I used a very translucent color, and the letters look a lot less distinct and kind of messy without a nice background.
Also, put a generous coat, maybe two coats. Make it truly opaque. Then, let the nail polish dry a bit before dipping it into the alcohol. (You’ll realize I didn’t do this in the subsequent pictures, so it looks a bit icky. But learn from my mistakes!)
I dipped my nails into a small dish I filled with some nail polish remover, and then stuck on a strip of newspaper (Chinese newspaper!).
And this is where people totally fail to tell you: PRESS. Right after you put that newspaper strip on top of your wet nail, press down really, really hard. For a good 30-40 seconds, the longer the better, but more than a minute is probably unnecessary. Be careful not to shift the newspaper.  Just press straight down, or else the letters will transfer in a messy manner. At first, I didn’t realize how strong I needed to press and just pressed lightly, thinking voila! the letters would magically transfer. Learn from my mistakes, please!
And make sure the newspaper is really wet. You want the newspaper to disintegrate and just leave the letters on your nail. So in between pressing really hard on your nail, make sure the newspaper stays soaked in the alcohol (or nail polish remover). I used q-tips tipped in nail polish remover for this.
Because it’s wet and gets mushy, the excess newspaper falls away.  I just ripped it off, and continued to soak the rest of my nail. Keep pressing!
I started at the thumb and failed miserably but by the time I got to my pinky, I finally gained success!
Final tips:
1. Use bold print on the newspaper, such as headings/titles. It’ll come out clearer, and transfer easier.
2. You use a lot more nail polish remover/alcohol than you would think. Be generous! Or you’re just going to end up with newspaper stuck on your nail. Not just the letters.
3. Put a lot of alcohol on until the newspaper looks wet/mushy, but peel it off before it’s fully disintegrated. Some residue newspaper will remain, but you’ll be able to tell if the letters transferred or not. Then, take a q tip dipped in alcohol/nail polish remover, and run it lightly over your nail to get rid of left over newspaper.
And there you go! Newspaper nails. Trickier than I thought they would be, and they’ll probably take a few more trials before I get them looking as good as the first picture. Sigh. And  maybe next time I’ll be more prepared!
~ photos and post by Jennifer

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