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DIY “liquid sand”, “concrete” and “leather effect” nails

Texture on nails is the new black!

It seems that UK brand, Ciaté, is pretty much always the innovator. They were first to bring out the caviar manicure and the velvet manicure. Although very soon online retailers were selling cheaper versions of both.  And then – for those of us in the UK – MUA brought out its really inexpensive versions: Constellations and Fur Effect nails.

But beating Ciaté at their own innovation game, a number of polish manufacturers have recently launched ranges that mimic various other textured finishes:

  • Sand – OPI has its range of Liquid Sand polishes
  • Concrete – from Nails Inc
  • Leather – also from Nails Inc

But what if you’re not sure if you will like the look or not? And what if you don’t want to spend the £11-19 necessary for a bottle of one of these polishes?

Well, the ever-resourceful blogging community has come to the rescue and two bloggers have come up with DIY versions of these manicures.

DIY liquid sand / concrete nails

So, if you’d like to try out “liquid sand” or “concrete” nails, then Katie and Alli at The Daily Varnish can help you, with their DIY Liquid Sand Manicure post.

DIY liquid sand concrete manicure
DIY liquid sand or concrete manicure
Image courtesy of Alli and Katie at The Daily Varnish (

The results are very similar to the real thing and will cost you a whole lot less. All you need is some embossing powder, which you can buy from a craft shop. For the concrete nails look, you don’t need anything else, but if you want the liquid sand look, then you can add glitter or you could even use glittery (or holographic) embossing powder. The powder seems to cost around £5 – cheaper in some places – and that’s less than half the price of a bottle of OPI or Nails Inc.

Just make sure you don’t go putting your nails under a hair dryer or anything similar: embossing powder is designed to expand when sustained heat is applied! [EDIT: see comments below].

DIY leather effect nails

If, on the other hand, you prefer the look of leather effect nails, then Danielle at Totally Nailed tells you how to create your own Nails Inc leather effect nails.

DIY leather effect nails
DIY leather effect nails
Image courtesy of Danielle at Totally Nailed (

I think Danielle has done a great job with her version. In my opinion, it actually looks even more like leather than the Nails Inc’s polishes do.


Happy DIY-ing! Let me know how you get on!


– – – – –
Colourful nail polish image purchased from: © Can Stock Photo
Liquid sand image courtesy of: © The Daily Varnish
Leather effect nails image courtesy of : © Totally Nailed


Inky Whiskers

I love the embossing powder idea & will try it soon! Just FYI: the heat required to melt craft embossing powder is 300-400 degrees F. Your blow drier will not melt your nails! The oven or stove however could, as well as a heat tool used for stripping paint (which is what’s used to melt embossing powder). If you treat the embossing powder like you would acryllic nails (i.e. avioding extreme heat) you’ll be fine. <3

Claire Kerr

Ah … thanks for the info about the heat required to activate embossing powder.