The shattered glass nail art design was trending hard last month when an image from Korea went viral. I happened to meet Sarah Lee, Co-Founder of Glow Recipe earlier that month at their Rubber Masking Party and couldn’t help but notice her holographic, green/yellow sparkly nails on top of black polish. She hinted that they will host another event in NYC and to look out for an email soon and sure enough there was an announcement for a special Pop-Up shop, Trends Workshop and Meet ‘n’ Greet with Korean celebrity nail artist, Park Eun Kyung, owner of the popular UNiSTELLA nail salon in Korea. I’ve never been so mesmerized by a nail trend before since learning how to use nail tape so I was determined to find this unicorn colored cellophane and encase them on my finger tips! Click on to see my first attempt and learn some tips if you want to explore this on your own or with friends for an awesome girl’s night in! 

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I met Park Eun Kyung, owner of UNiSTELLA at Glow Recipe’s Pop-Up Shop event!

Park Eun Kyung shared her tips and tricks at Glow Recipe’s special Pop-Up Shop as she demonstrated how to have your own shattered glass nail look at home. The look was inspired from an abalone shell when her friends ordered sushi and she wanted to eat something else! She first found the holographic cellophane film from a bag of candy wrappers and cut out little triangles from them but they were too thick. She eventually found thinner holographic cellophane and would store the strips in a plastic tube so that it curved a little bit for better placement on nails. She recommended that this is done with an at-home gel nail system where you can cure it with a UV or LED lamp but thick coats of clear polish will work too. 

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Park Eun Kyung does a demo doing Glass Nails using a gel nail system.

She prefers a more iridescent look against a clear nail polish base and I personally like a more feminine look as well. I tried my hand using clear polish first because it’s also less of a chance in messing up a colored base. Plus if there’s a chip, I won’t notice it as much!

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Park Eun Kyung showcases both the black and clear polish look. The base color you pick will change the reflection of the “glass shards”.

Materials:

  • Holographic cellophane
  • Very sharp scissors
  • Tweezers, a rhinestone picker tool, a dotting tool OR a toothpick (dotting tool or toothpick recommended)
  • Base coat
  • Thick, clear top coat or gel nail LED system if you have it

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Process:

1. Uncurl the holographic cellophane and cut off the end of the strip about 1 cm in height. Cut off squares from that strip so they are about 1cm x 1cm, doesn’t have to be perfect. You just want them to be more manageable when cutting off the shards. You shouldn’t cut the shards off the larger strip because it will wrinkle and damage it. Trust me, I tried.

DIY Shattered Glass Nail Mani (9)2. Start cutting a square into little glass shards or triangles and vary the sizes and shapes since all of your finger nails are sized differently. You will be using a variety of sizes so that they fit within your nail. Cutting out about 3 squares should be enough for one hand.

DIY Shattered Glass Nail Mani (8)3. On clean nails, put your base coat on only ONE nail first. You want the base to still be wet/tacky so that the shards will stick. Pick up pieces of shards by pressing your fingers on the pile and use the picker tool to pick up your favorite piece. It’s easier doing it this way then picking it up from the table surface.

DIY Shattered Glass Nail Mani (5)4. RECOMMENDED METHOD: Another way to drop a little bit of clear nail polish onto a piece of paper or foil and dip your dotting tool or toothpick into it then pick up a piece of shard by pressing onto it. You can easily rotate the toothpick/dotting tool so that the shard is positioned the way you want it where it’s not so easy to do so with tweezers. Start from LEFT to RIGHT, BASE to TIP so that you won’t smudge a shard out of place if you’re a Rightie.

Dotting tool dipped in clear polish will pick these shards up easily.
Dotting tool dipped in clear polish will pick these shards up easily.

5. Place bigger pieces of shards first, remember starting from the left side, going to your right. Alternate the triangle positions so that a corner is facing up and the next triangle’s corner is facing downwards. Use smaller triangles to fill in the smaller spaces in between. Apply a THICK layer of clear top coat to seal.

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If you’re a Rightie, place your glass pieces from LEFT to Right so it doesn’t smudge your shards out of place.

TIP: If you’re taking a long time in between to place a shard, try only swiping half your nail with the base coat so that it doesn’t dry on you while you’re placing the first couple of shards. It was much easier doing this when I started on my right hand since my left hand is not as steady. When you’re ready for the next nail, apply base coat again.

6. I used a design that allows spaces in between the shards and have not tried layering them on top of each other yet. In this design, don’t feel that you need to get the pieces as close as possible to each other. It’s a “shattered glass” look so the imperfections is what makes this look edgy.

DIY Shattered Glass Nail Mani (6)7. Also don’t feel the need to place the shards at the very tippy tips of your nails because that’s are the most vulnerable area for chips and damage to your work of art. Placing the pieces 2mm below the nail tip should be fine.

8. Check your work every 2-3 fingers to make sure the pieces are laying flat against your nail. Use your tweezers/toothpick to lightly press against the corners that are being stubborn. Reapply top coat underneath the corner if needed and wait until it’s halfway dry to press against it again.

9. Start the process again for your other hand by cutting the 1cm x 1cm squares. If you suck at using your less dominant hand, set both hands steady by placing them on the edge of a table or invite a friend over to help! Practicing helps a ton.

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Cuticles could use some TLC but this is the mani after 3 days. There will be some peeling on the corners if you don’t use a thick top coat.
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My other hand.
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Shattered Glass Nails Mani after 6 days.
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Peeling is evident here before I discovered I had the Julep Freedom Polymer Top Coat (a nail-saver!).

More Glass Nails Tips:

  • I used a tweezer in a scissor format but it will help tremendously if you have a picker tool so that it releases the shards easier. It gives you more control when placing the shards since this DIY requires some precision. (See below for suggestions on where to buy). EDIT: I had forgotten that you can easily just use a TOOTHPICK to pick up the shards as mentioned above. If you don’t feel like buying new nail tools, the toothpick method is actually really easy.
  • Use a thick, I mean THICK, top coat and layer on a new layer every morning or night to ensure your mani will last. Don’t forget to swipe the edge of the tips.
  • Don’t throw away your un-used pieces of cut shards! Instead, take a post-it note, cut off the sticky part, put your pieces in the center, fold in half and fold over the sides to make a mini envelope. There’s no need to even tape it closed. Just stick the folded envelope into your plastic tube and use it next time!
Put your unused pieces in a folded post-it and store it in the same plastic canister for next time.
Put your unused pieces in a folded post-it and store it in the same plastic canister for next time.
  • Keep the unused shards around in case some of the pieces start to curl up. You can use them to replace those pieces.
  • If you have the nipper tool, you can just nip off the tips that curled up if you don’t feel like replacing those shards.
  • If this is all too intimidating for you, just start with ONE nail! Trying it out on your ring finger nail would still be completely awesome!
Eun Kyung Park used this picker tool with a curved ends to place her cellophane pieces.
Park Eun Kyung used this picker tool with a curved ends to place her cellophane pieces. I prefer just using a toothpick/dotting tool dipped in clear polish.

Level Up:

I’m already planning out my next mani with black nail polish as the base! EDIT: Black nails below! Experiment with the different cellophane colors will look like against a different base color and see what you like. Apply a glitter top coat instead of clear. Use a rhinestone to accent it more. Try different holographic colors on different nails or mix them all on one nail.

Bam! Black polish with green shards! These pop out more. It's like each finger is its own light sabre - Luke Skywalker look out!
Bam! Black polish with green shards! These pop out more. It’s like each finger is its own light sabre – Luke Skywalker look out!

Where I Bought It:

  • Holographic Cellophane: Search for “glass nails” on ebay and you will see a variety of 5 colors for under $2 shipped from China! At first I thought it was only 1 tube but it includes all 5 colors for that price! My seller was “vakindnewfrog” and I received it within 3 weeks. I wanted it sooner but it was a pain looking for holographic cellophane in NYC. I found a canister of pre-cut shards from Michael’s BUT they weren’t cut cleanly and were meant for arts and crafts, not for your nails where they need to be thin and have clean edges.
    • Memebox carries the Etude House cellophane strips if you want to just throw that in your order, free shipping over $30 and faster delivery.
    • Soko Glam has the new Modi x Unistella PRE-CUT shattered glass stickers if you have zero patience in ordering, cutting and getting all the tools needed!!!
  • Nail Picker Tools: Also on ebay, search for “nail art tweezer tools” you should see options under $2 shipped free as well! The tweezers shown in the picture are regular eyebrow tweezers I got in SaSa when I was in Hong Kong but it wasn’t the best tool for this nail project (not enough control). EDIT: Again, I edited the above to include use of a dotting tool or toothpick!
  • Thick Top Coat: At first I used a regular Essie top coat but I forgot I had this amazing Julep Freedom Polymer Top Coat as a sample from Sephora (but Sephora no longer carries it). It was too thick for my normal polish but it’s frickin’ awesome for times I’m doing nail art and need to really seal in rhinestones, nail tape and what have you. Wow, I can run my nail over the shards and I won’t feel the edges AT ALL. Highly recommend this top coat if you don’t have a gel nail system at home. I’m probably going to repurchase this at Julep some time.Another alternative that I just bought is the NAILS INC. Gel Effect Top Coat with Caviar from Sephora ($15), pictured with my black nails above. The description sounds very similar to the Julep one: “Triple polymer and dual plasticizer technology give your nails a plumped, gel-like finish. Get a luscious, wet look and brilliant shine while extending the wear of your manicure.” I will update on my instagram to give an insta-review!
  • Base Coat: I used Skin Food’s Nail Vita Base Coat that I bought in Korea and it’s amazing at keeping my nails protected and allows them to grow out. I always get peeling nails when I use polish but this base coat has made a difference at minimizing my peeling! You can order it at RoseRoseShop in a beauty haul.

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Comment!

Any questions? What do you think of this newest nail trend from Korea? I’m in love! Get used to getting compliments (even from strangers)! How were your DIY sessions? I’d love to know!

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  • OMG your nails are so freaking gorgeous! 😀 I’m almost certain I’ll make a huge mess… or take like 2 hours being the perfectionist that I am LOL.

    Thank you for this awesome tutorial!! I can’t wait to try it out! 🙂