How To: Gold Leaf Manicure


I did this pretty little gold and turquoise mani late last week and have been getting so many compliments on it both online and IRL. Quick disclaimer: I didn’t come up with this technique. I used the instructions provided by The Beauty Department.

I’ll walk you through the process in this post, but you really should check out the original post and instructions here because Kristin does a much better job with hers.


  • nail polish (any colour you’d like to pair with gold)
  • top coat
  • gold leaf sheets
  • Q-tips
  • glass of water
  • nail file
  • scissors


Step One: Choose a fun nail polish that will good with gold. Kristin uses Essie’s Turquoise and Caicos and since it’s my favourite colour lately, so did I.

20120417-223835.jpgHow bad are my cuticles/hands right now? I am in serious need of a (professional) mani!

Step Two: Cut out small triangles of golf leaf sheets. Kristin really emphasized how delicate these sheets are and I still didn’t understand just how fragile they were going to be. They basically cannot be touched with your hands or else they will tear. I found that using a combination of wet and dry Q-tips were the best way to handle these. Wet Q-tips will pick them up, dry Q-tips to keep them down.
Note: the golf leaf paper really can’t be substituted with tinfoil. (Hey, people asked!)

20120417-223845.jpgI got these gold leaf sheets at a local art store for under $6.

Step Three: When your polish is mostly dry, use the Q-tips to apply the golf leaf triangles to the corner of your nail. Use a dry Q-tip to spread it flat and even across your nail. If your nail polish is too dry, try putting a layer of topcoat or clear polish over your nail first. If a gold sheet tears on your finger you can just add another sheet on top. The sheets are so thin that it really doesn’t make a difference.


Step Four: Use a nail file to file away the excess gold leaf paper from the edges of your nails.


Step Five: Apply a coat of clear topcoat. I used a cheap brand I had lying around and it really made a difference on how quickly the gold leaf in my manicure deteriorated.


See what I mean about mine not looking as good as The Beauty Department’s?

As for upkeep – I chipped one of my nails right off the bat because my dishes just don’t do themselves. The next day, my desk job with lots of paper and unjamming photocopiers left my nails looking less than glam. Not even 48 hours later, my nails looked embarrassingly bad and most of the gold had come off. Again, this may just be my choice in sub-par topcoat or an indication that shellac was made for girls like me.

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