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How To Do Chrome Nails With Glitter – The Definitive Guide

Are you wondering how to do Chrome Nails With Glitter? It’s a common question that I get asked. In this tutorial, I would like to share with you step by step how I do this on my own and my clients nails. I’d also like to share with you my tips and tricks that I have learnt over the years.

There are essentially three ways that you can go about creating your Chrome Nails with Glitter:

  1. Apply Chrome Powder over top of Regular Nail Polish
  2. Applying Holographic Chrome Powder Pigment over Gel Polish (UV Lamp Required)
  3. Applying Loose Glitters to a Chrome Coloured Nail Polish

In this post, I’d like to talk you through all three methods so that you can use the one that suits you best.

Method 1: Apply Chrome Powder over Regular Nail Polish

Products Recommended & Used:

Base Coat | Essie Base Coat

Black Polish | Essie Black Polish

Top Coat | Nails Inc ’45 Second Top Coat’

Chrome Powder | PrettyDiva Silver Chrome Pure Powder

Kabuki Brush | EcoTools

How to do Chrome Nails with Regular Polish

If you are looking for how to perfectly apply Chrome Powder over Regular Nail polish, then this is the part of the article for you.

Begin with clean bare nails. Next you’re going to need to apply a base coat to protect your natural nails.

Now pick a base color. I usually use black to get a true chrome effect but feel free to try the chrome over any base color. I also like to apply two coats of the black polish for maximum opacity.

Then, let the polish dry for about five minutes. After that you’re going to need to apply a top coat to get a nice smooth surface.

Chrome powder really emphasizes bumps so you’re going to want to make sure you have a super smooth surface to avoid that.

I have heard that you need to use a special topcoat when using chrome powder with regular polish but I found this method works just fine with any topcoat as long as you follow this next step:

Let the topcoat dry until it’s dry to the touch.

Now, using your finger pick up just a little bit of the powder and carefully dab it onto the nail. It’s important to use your finger so that you can feel how much pressure you’re applying and avoid smudging the polish that’s not yet set.

Once you’ve to have the powder all over the entire nail, begin to lightly buff the powder into the Polish and just keep buffing until most of the pigment is pressed into the nail to get a super shiny finish.

Make sure your fingertip is clean from excess powder, then give the nail surface one more light buff.

Now repeat the process for the rest of your nails. dabbing the pot over the nail then lightly buffing it.

Don’t forget, to get the free edge and the sides of your nail as well to clean up some of the mess.

Next I usually use a flat Kabuki Brush and buff away any excess. If your powder is so finely milled it can end up spreading everywhere so be careful.

Then wash your hands with cold water and carefully towel dry them.

You can stop here and not apply any topcoat but you mani will only last about a day until the powder starts to rub off.

To lock the powder in you’re going to need to apply a topcoat however applying a regular topcoat will for the most part get rid of the shiny chrome effect and leave you with a glittery finish so to avoid that you can either apply a layer of gel topcoat or use a water-based topcoat.

Method 2: Apply Holographic Powder over Gel Polish

Next up I’ll be showing you how to apply Holographic Powder over Gel polish.

Products Used

Base Coat | Essie Base Coat

Gel Dehydrator | Gelish Harmony PH Bond

No Wipe Top Coat Gel | Born Pretty

Holographic Powder | What’s Up Nails ‘Holographic Powder’

Pastel Purple Gel| LeChat ‘Mystic Lilac

Mermaid Powder| PrettyDiva Chrome Mermaid Powder

Chrome Manicure Pigment Set | Born Pretty 

Other Misc Supplies:


Eyeshadow Applicator – Bdellium Professional Makeup Brush

Once again, start with clean bare nails to prep the nails for gel.

Next, apply a nail dehydrator. This just gets rid of any excess oils on the nail to ensure that the gel adheres properly.

Next, apply a thin layer of base coat gel and cure it using an LED lamp.

According to most gel instructions, after that you’ll need to use a black gel polish but again you can use any color you’d like for your base.

If your black gel isn’t super opaque you may end up doing three thin coats of black polish occurring between each layer.

If you get any gel on your skin don’t forget to remove it before you cure. Remember that it’s better to keep your gel layers thin to ensure proper curing and don’t forget to cap the free edge.

Next you’ll need a no wipe topcoat gel –  this is the key step to the gel application process.

Apply a thin coat to all of your nails and make sure to cover the color completely after your topcoat is cured.

It’s time for the holographic powder!

For chrome nails, I use a silver one from Whatsup Nails – they do a range of colors. To apply the powder I like to use an Eyeshadow Sponge applicator but you can also use one of those cosmetic sponges/ a silicone tool or even your finger. Again, it’s totally up to you.

Pick up a small amount of the powder and I mean a little bit goes a long way and just start buffing it into your nail.

Since these gel nails are cured you really don’t need to be gentle about this method so don’t be afraid to really push the powder into the nail and remember to get the sides and the free edge.

Keep buffing until you’re happy with the effect. After that I remove the excess with my little kabuki brush again and apply a layer of gel topcoat to seal in the powder cure one more time and that’s it.

Lastly I’ll show you how to apply a mermaid powder.

The first thing is to apply your base coat gel and cure for your color of mermaid powder. I find that light colors look best.

I like to use pastel purple gel polish for my base and I usually apply two coats, curing in between each layer to get a nice opaque color.

Mermaid powder is a little different in consistency compared to the chrome and holographic powder. It is s much prettier and has a sugar like texture.

So to apply the powder pick some up on your finger and dab the powder all over the sticky layer on your gel polish – and by sticky layer I mean the inhibition layer you get after you’ve cured your nails. Not wet gel like with the chrome powder.

Keep rubbing the powder into the sticky surface until most of the powder is absorbed and again.

Be sure to get into the very edges of your nail and the free edge keep buffing until the surface is smooth and there’s no longer a gritty texture then just brush away the excess.

And that’s it – finish off with a layer of top gel.

Care one more time and remove the final sticky layer with gel cleanser on a lint-free wipe.

This will make your mermaid powder look fantastic in different Lighting’s.

Sometimes it’s blue with flashes of pink and sometimes it’s pinker with an orange flash.

Method 3: Applying Loose Glitters to a Chrome Based Nail Polish 

The third method, is by actually applying Loose Glitters to a Chrome Based Nail Polish.

The best part about method one is this is using regular nail polish and no gel!

Its first important to note that there are different ways that you can apply loose glitter and a number of different kinds of glitter available. Moreover, you can apply glitter to both your natural nails, acrylics or even gel.

You will begin by first selecting the kind of Glitter you want to apply. Each different glitter will need to be applied a little bit differently; it depends on the sizes. Here are the ways:

Different Kinds of Glitter

Please note: the images below are for illustrative purposes to show the different granular kinds of glitter.

How To Do Chrome Nails With Glitter

Your first option is to use Finely-milled Glitter (like this one):

finely milled glitter

It is possible to use regular craft store glitters but the problem with craft store glitters is that they are likely to lose their shine and lose a little bit of their color when you apply a top coat.

Applying Finely-Milled Glitter

When applying really finely milled glitters, it is best to apply these right into a layer of your nail polish.  To get the Chrome Glitter look, you will want to apply the finely milled glitter directly into your chrome nail polish. You can also do this in a wet layer of Chrome topcoat. The polish I am wearing in this article is by….

So you’re going to want to apply a thin layer of Chrome base color to your natural/acrylic/gel nail and you may want to use a metal cuticle pusher in the process. You want to use the lid of your nail glitter pot to just lay your nail in a little bit so the glitter won’t go everywhere.

While the Polish is still wet you just want to dunk out that glitter and just tilt your nail a little bit so most of the glitter will get stuck to the nail polish. You want to scoop a decent amount on your nail,  making sure you get the edges as well.

Once done, just tap off the nail a little bit to remove any loose glitter. You might want to tilt your finger a little bit as well so you can really get into those edges.

With regular chrome nail polish, you may find it is a little bit patchy so what you want to do once you’ve got glitter all over the nail is to tap off the nail a little bit. Make sure that most of the excess is removed.

What I like to do is scoop the excess glitter back into the pot for future use. Now take a little nail brush and go really softly across the nail to make sure that the glitters that you have applied stay on.

Using the brush, just wipe off all the excess glitter. If you want like a super opaque glitter effect just go over with another layer of Chrome Nail Polish.

If you applied a base color first to adhere the glitters, go over with a topcoat for the second layer so you don’t lose all the color from your first layer of glitter.

As far as brushes go you could also use a tiny fan brush as you want the bristles to be soft and somewhat flat to easily brush over your nails without disturbing the nail polish underneath. This is because the polish might still be a little bit wet.

When you go over with your brush and of course make sure that you clean your like backdrop or background or whatever you use to do your nails on.

If you don’t want glitter on every nail of your design, or want to remove it from a nail in which it is applied, you can use little bit of alcohol like a rubbing alcohol and use a cotton pad to remove any glitter. Do this before you go on to the next nail.

A second option is a Rougher-Milled Glitter:

Applying a Rougher Milled Glitter

When applying a Rougher-Milled Glitter, which is less fine and a little more opaque, you will notice that without brushing the excess off it is a little bit more saturated than the finer mill glitter.

So having dipped your nail in the glitter, you will then want to take your brush and just gently wipe off the excess. You don’t want to go overboard because then you will mess up the chrome nail polish you applied underneath. While brushing there might be some patchy spots, if this occurs, then just go over your nail again with some glitter and another layer of topcoat.

Another thing that you might want to do if the glitter is just way too patchy, is that when you have scooped on the glitter (making sure you don’t spill it everywhere) then you might want to take a flat brush like this and just press the glitter on before you brush the excess off.

With a rougher milled glitter, you might want to use a bigger plate to catch all the glitter that can fall off.

Next, apply a second layer and you’ll notice your nail becomes completely opaque. When your nail is completely dry, apply another layer of a Chrome top coat to make sure that none of all the glitters will stick up or scratch.

Mixed Glitter

A third option is a mixed glitter. A mixed Glitter is little bit more chunky:

mixed glitter

Applying Mixed Glitter

For the next kind of glitter, which is this mixed one with finer and more chunkier glitter, you could use any of the methods I already showed you above with a regular chrome nail polish and top coat.

Or you could also try and use a foil glue or even a nail glue. As nail glue is really harsh I don’t recommend using that but you can if you like. For me personally I would suggest using a foil glue because it is a little bit less hard than an actual nail glue.

For this, you will follow the same method above, but you will apply a little bit of the foil glue on top of your base coat.

You really don’t need much of this because I’ve tested it out before and noticed that it reduced the effectiveness. Then, scoop some glitter out on your nail foil . If you are using a white foil glue, it will become completely opaque translucent when covered; when you don’t see any of the white base anymore you know enough is applied.

So dunk your mixed glitter onto your nail and make sure that you cover the entire nail just to be sure that you don’t have any patches. Tap off your finger again to remove the excess.

With chunky glitter, you might want to just press the glitter down with your finger a little bit so there won’t be any scratching of glitter on to your skin. After patting down, wait acouple of seconds until the foil glue is completely dry and all the glitters have adhered,.

You then will go over with your little brush to remove the excess, once brushed off you’re done.

Chunky Glitter

The last kind of glitter is a really chunky one and you see these kind of glitters being used by professionals a lot lately.

Applying Chunky Glitter:

The last type of glitter you may want to use is chunky (larger glitter particles). This is the one I prefer to use and prefer applying as it is a lot easier than those above!

You can do this one by one with a dotting tool. This way you can be a lot more precise and prevent any overlapping glitter which can scratch.

I prefer the soft coat method which can be done as follows.

First, apply a little bit of topcoat and if you struggle to work super quick you might want to get a regular topcoat instead of a quick drying one. Get a couple of glitters out from the pot and place in the lid.

With this glitter you can just place them whenever you want on your nail, all over the place or being more selective and precise. You could even apply a couple of random ones to give a really playful effect.

If you feel like you need a little bit more topcoat just apply that to the spot you want or where you need it.
You may require a little bit more topcoat which can help you place a few more glitters on where required.

Make your Own Nail Glitter Polish

I would also like to share with you a method to make your own chrome glitter nail polish this can be used in the future to save you a lot of time and effort!

Firstly, take some chrome topcoat (you don’t want to add too much). Then, take one of your glitters, I really like a medium sized one, and just dunk some of it out.

I always close the little pots right away because I don’t want it to go everywhere.

Then you just want to mix your own chrome glitter polish together. You can apply this with a brush, and can even use the same one you use to brush off excess glitter.

If you would like the like the glitter mix polish to be a little more thick you might want to apply a little more glitter or just start with less chrome topcoat.

If you are using a quick drying top coat be sure to act fast!

Final Words:

As you can see, there are three methods that you can use to do Chrome Nails with Glitter. Both ways are equally as effective but it depends on your personal preference.
Let us know how you get on and drop a comment below!