Friday, November 8, 2013

How to Make Perfect Polka Dots On Your Nails

Normally I wouldn't post a blog announcing how amazing I am at something... I don't think? But because people leave comments asking about it pretttttty often, it seemed like a good idea to just go ahead and write this blog dedicated to how I make "perfect" polka dots on my nails.

If you pay any attention whatsoever each Friday, you've noticed I use polka dots on my nails frequently...

Polka Dots on Nails

So while I am definitely not an expert, I have made quite a few polka dots on my nails at this point - and here are my top tips for getting yours to look boss:


If you give a crap about your dots being symmetrical and/or all uniform (and it's totally fine if you don't), you are going to have to step up from the bobby pin or toothpick you've been using. Yes, both of those tools work fine for putting "a" dot onto your nail. But it won't necessarily be a very well-shaped one. And it's also trickier to have all of your dots the same size when using these tools. Here's an example of what I mean...

These dots are the work of a toothpick - pretty impossible to get all the dots to end up the same size:

Dots made with toothpick, nail polish

You will probably have a bit more luck with a bobby pin than a toothpick, but I'm not in love with the uniformity I get from a bobby pin either. I say "splurge" and get yourself a dotting tool, ladies!

As a bonus point - I think you'll find dotting tools are easier to hold, too, since you can grip them naturally like you would a pencil (or a pen, for all you youngsters out there) (or a Stylus Pen for all you snobby little iPhone-owning pre-teens) (wait, why is that last group reading my blog?) (I've gotten sidetracked).


Seriously, don't ever be scurred to practice your polka dots on a piece of scrap paper. I do it every time I am doing a polka dot mani. Every time! Just make a tiny puddle on a piece of scrap paper with 2-3 drops of polish - don't make a big puddle because the polish will begin to dry and change consistency, becoming tackier the longer it sits exposed to the air. Dip your dotting tool into your tiny puddle and then do 5-10 practice dots on your scrap paper. After enough practice, you won't be nervous or shaky when you go to do the dots on your actual nails.


No, seriously. Practice dots, guys. I'm not messing around. Please see Jennie's post here for further proof.


It took awhile before I fully realized this one, but the fresher your bottle of nail polish, the better your dots will turn out. With older, thicker, gloopier polishes - or even a newish polish that hasn't been "stirred" well in awhile - dots have a tendency to just look wonkier. The polish comes off the dotting tool sort of tacky, and you may even get a "rise" in the middle of your dot as you pull your tool away from the nail. But with a fresh polish, the dots come off the dotting tool smoother and they look much more fluid and flawless.

And on that note, recently I heard a trick about keeping bottles of polish fresher for longer - make it a habit to wipe the rim of your bottle with a cotton pad soaked in polish remover to remove any excess polish before you put the brush back in and twist it shut. I mean, I don't do it myself. That would take too long. But I hear it's a great tip. #DoAsISayNotAsIDo.


Sometimes I make a perfectly shaped dot that gets ruined by a rogue bubble inside of it. This is especially annoying when I'm looking at pictures that I've just snapped of an otherwise lovely mani.

Bubbles in your nails

Oy! Avoid bubbles in your polish (and thus, ultimately, your polka dots) by rolling your bottle of polish between your palms rather than shaking it like a Polaroid picture or violently smacking it against the heel of your palm. Rolling the bottle between your palms warms up the polish slightly while also mixing it gently.

Annnnd there we have it - my top tips for making perfect polka dots on your nails! Did you learn something new today?

Speaking of learning something new today - it's my 29th birthday! So in honor of growing older, wiser, and WAY more attractive (obvi) - let's hope that I learn at least one new thing today, too. #FistBumpToMyself.

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  1. Happy Birthday! I need to invest in some dotting tails, as I just use a stylus from some obsolete handheld device that I found laying around. The "dammit" picture made me laugh :-)

    1. Thank you!! And hysterical that you actually use a stylus when I had to do some serious Googling yesterday to figure out what those things are even called, to be able to mention it in this blog haha.

  2. I've been thinking about investing in a dotting tool... but call me cheap because I just can't get myself to! Your dots look amazing, though. And I love your tip about using as fresh of nail polish as you can get. I think that's what I've been doing wrong all this time because my dots always come out 3D-looking. Thanks for the tips!

    I hope you're doing well! :)


    1. I've seen the brand Essence selling their dotting tools for reeeeally cheap - do they sell that brand anywhere near you?

  3. Happy birthday and also, this post cracked me up, and also...I always shake my polish bottle! Thank you, I'll stop that now, and just gently massage them in some fashion.

  4. Happy birthday! And dotting tools are super cheap and work well and usually come in sets of 5, double tipped = 10 dots. So I agree, definitely more than worth it! I'm so happy I got some. I really love that middle one up there, pretty! :)

    1. Thank you! Oooh, a set of 5! That sounds like a real jackpot!

  5. Happy Birthday!
    Great tips on making polka dots and yes, an actual dotting tool is a must! It's totally worth it!

    1. Thanks Jayne! And I've never looked back since buying the dotting tools - my dots instantly became infinitely better :)

  6. Happy Birthday Bailey! Thanks for the dotting tips, and here's to no bubbles in your dots in the future!!! :)

  7. You are AMAZING at this! I can't paint my own nails to save my life. That dotting tool is pretty slick.

  8. great tips! I definitely need to get a dotting tool

  9. Wheeeee!! I'm SO SAD I didn't go the rounds on Friday!!

    HAPPY (belated by two days) BIRTHDAY!!! I hope you had the funnest birthday weekend OF LIFE! #birthdaybicoastalfistbump (because a self-fist bump is fine, but not as awesome as fist bumping another person, even internet-i-cally).

    And everyone should legit pay attention to this post because you are the QUEEN OF THE DOTS!

  10. I got my set of 5 double-ended dotting tools for under $5 on Amazon. So much better to have them than try and do it freehand or with a toothpick :)

  11. Thanks for the tips! I've gone both the toothpick and bobby pin route -- my best result here at -- so reading this makes me feel better at not being overly thrilled at the results! :)

    Jen @ Librarian for Life & Style

    1. Your dots are cute!! Like anything, practice makes perfect :)


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