Galaxy Nails Tutorial (A Cautionary Tale with Pictures)

Oh, unicorns, what I do for you. Join me on this exciting tutorial for galaxy nails, and maybe learn a lesson along the way.

So I originally had a different tutorial in mind, an easier one that I have done about a dozen times. But on the advice of a person who will remain nameless, but rest assured she knows who she is, I decided to do galaxy nails. Do a Google search and you know that the tutorials are everywhere. Having never done this manicure before, I watched a few videos on it and read a few different tutorials. It seemed simple enough, so I thought, “Why not?”

With that said, let’s jump right in.

1. Begin with a black base.

This doesn’t have to be pure black. In most of the tutorials I found, it suggested a black with some kind of sparkle to give the illusion of depth. This is important. I started off with a gunmetal gray sort of color. But then I found another polish I liked better called “The Parking Meteor Expired.” I thought the punny name and the fact that it was space-themed was a good omen.

2. Get your tools and all the colors you will need. Don’t go overboard.

Image nail polish, laptop, and other tools to paint fingernails.
Everything lined up, unaware of what is about to happen.

It’s important to have your tools ready since you don’t need to let it dry between the different colors. You’ll need a makeup sponge, dotting tools, and maybe tweezers to avoid the mess in the pictures you will see. Now as you see, I have a lot of colors. YOU DO NOT NEED THIS MANY COLORS. Seriously, you don’t need them all. You will see why. Also, check the opaqueness of the colors you are using. You’ll thank me for this. I suggest that you, unlike me, stick to three colors, maybe four, but I think that’s pushing it.

3. Look at some galaxies for inspiration.

This is a step I think I should not have skipped. It’s important to see just how galaxies look. If you’re a super space genius, feel free to skip this step. But who doesn’t like to look at all those pretty pictures?

4a. Cover your black base with a coat of small glitter. (This is optional)

This is an optional step if your black base doesn’t have any kind of sparkle. Remember, we want the illusion of depth. Space is huge, after all.

4b. Begin building your galaxy.

Image of fingernails being spackled with nail brush
Seems easy enough

Take your sponge and your tweezers and begin dabbing the color on your nails. Try to keep the color centralized. We don’t want your whole nail covered. Repeat on every nail.

Do this for all your other colors. This is where I started to mess up and where looking at some pictures would have done me good. Galaxies aren’t just vast whiteness in space, and they’re not exactly the rainbow I started building on my left hand. It is important that the colors you use work well together and are bright enough. I thought that pretty teal would work, but it turns out it was too sheer and didn’t show up at all. Remember: Stick to two or three colors other than white. Trust me, or it might end up looking like this:

Image of painted fingernails


The colors are too muddy and I covered too much of the nail. I should have stuck to the white, the pink and the blue. Maybe.

5. Use your dotting tool and make “stars.”

Image of painted fingernails being dotted with dotting tool.
Try to randomize the star placements and shapes

Go to your nail and randomly dot stars. Remember, you can use a mechanical pencil, a toothpick, an orange stick or a bobby pin as a dotting tool.

6. At your own risk, try to make diamond/cross shaped stars.

Image of painted fingernails being dotted with dotting tool.
No! Stop while you’re ahead! Please!

Or don’t. Please don’t. Not unless you have the dexterity to do so. Let my folly be your saving grace. Learn from my mistakes, unicorns. It’s a great idea and it looks really good when done well, but I just didn’t do it well.

6. Add a clear polish with glitter.

Image of painted fingernails
This is just embarrassing. I can’t even.

I don’t even know. This is supposed to look good, but at this point, I am just so disappointed in those terrible crosses that I can’t even tell if it looks good.

7. Finish off with a top coat.

Image of painted fingernails
I tried to save the right hand at least.

Always finish off with a top coat for protection and a nice glossy finish. I mean, who doesn’t want to protect their hard work?

Overall it’s not a great manicure, but I will definitely try it again. The left hand was a total disaster, but I did a better job with the right. Remember that less is more when sponging on the colors and that you maybe shouldn’t try your hand at crosses if your right hand is feeling extra arthritic-y. Also, it’s important to let some of that black peek out; it will keep the whole illusion of space alive. This one did not get Instagrammed, if you’re wondering. I’ll definitely give it a try again, but maybe I’ll plan it better next time and maybe finally buy some nail-art brushes.

Have any of you tried your hand at this manicure? How did it work out for you? Was it better than mine, or about the same? Share! I need to know someone can do this.

By Jazmin

20-something internet fiend. Usually perusing the internet to fuel my fangirl life while simultaneously trying to figure out how to save the world. Working on building a tiny empire of crafty goodness. Ultimate dream is to one day become Lucille Bluth.

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