Nimbus Nail Art Tutorial

As I promised, today’s post is a tutorial for the nail art I posted yesterday. As many of you guessed – I did indeed use a q-tip/cotton bud! I really love this nail art so no doubt I’ll be posting a lot of these in the coming weeks. It also makes a great base for stamping and other nail art so stay tuned for that!
I had mentioned that I didn’t know what to call this style, but Laura’s suggestion of ‘Halo’ was spot on. Thank you Laura! I decided on Nimbus (which is another word for Halo according to!) to avoid any confusion with video game themed nail art. Nimbus nail art also rolls off the tongue quite nicely and it makes me think of Harry Potter! Win, win!
Nimbus Nail Art Tutorial by The Nailasaurus

Nimbus Nail Art Tutorial by The Nailasaurus
All you need for this nail art is:
Cotton Buds
Acetone – You can get acetone from most beauty supply stores and most pharmacies. I did try this with nail polish remover but it wasn’t as effective. You can also use polish thinner, but that could get pricey as you need to use a fair amount.
A white nail polish for your base

A selection of 3-4 colours – I’m using Barry M Plum, Prickly Pear and Bright Purple and H+M Midnight Mystery.
Top coat
Start by painting all of your nails white, or another very light shade and letting it dry. Using a light base will make the colours much more vibrant when you add them over the top.
Nimbus Nail Art Tutorial by The Nailasaurus
This is the important part! Lay out some nail polish on a sheet of plastic or foil and pour out some acetone. If you don’t have a suitable container, just use the lid of the bottle.
Touch a cotton bud to the surface of the acetone and let it soak up in to the cotton.
Start thinning out the polish using the acetone soaked cotton bud by working it in a circular motion.

Nimbus Nail Art Tutorial by The Nailasaurus
Test the consistency by blotting the cotton bud on to the plastic. You want it to be watery but still pigmented.

Nimbus Nail Art Tutorial by The Nailasaurus
When you’re happy with the consistency, blot the cotton bud randomly on to your nail. I like to start with the darkest colour and work my way towards the lightest.

Nimbus Nail Art Tutorial by The Nailasaurus
Pick up a fresh cotton bud and repeat with your second colour.

And the third! If you want to get the colour right up to the edges of your nails, it will start pooling in your cuticles. Don’t worry about it too much yet, it can easily be cleaned up when you’re done.

Nimbus Nail Art Tutorial by The Nailasaurus

Blot on a layer of your lightest colour to blend everything together nicely.

Nimbus Nail Art Tutorial by The Nailasaurus
Because the layers of colour are so thin, you can keep adding colours until you’re happy. Just make sure you give it time to dry in between colours otherwise the acetone can start removing the layers underneath.

Nimbus Nail Art Tutorial by The Nailasaurus
Once you’re finished, add a top coat and wait for everything to dry. Clean up around the edges using a clean-up brush and you’re done!
A few tips
– Your cotton bud should be saturated with acetone, but not dripping with it!
– If at any point your cotton bud starts deteriorating – stray fibres etc – just pick up a new one.
– If any little bits of cotton do get on to your nail, you can remove them with a pair of tweezers.
I want to see your take on this technique so I’d love if you tag #looknailasaurus if you post your mani on Instagram, Twitter or Tumblr!

Nimbus Nail Art Tutorial by The Nailasaurus


  • Laurie Brown

    That is awesome, and looks like one I’d actually be able to do (very clumsy here)!

  • Mindy Glazer

    Beautiful! I just saw this done by someone, and they did it with neon colors…but didn’t describe how to do it. I had to look up the technique and I came here. Thank you for explaining it so well! I have a wonderful understanding now, and can’t wait to try it out with stamping over top of it! 🙂