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DIY: Snakeskin-look Nails

DIY: Snakeskin-look Nails

Nail treatments with patterns and texture are all the rage right now, but this new manicure technique may be taking the obsession with animal print and extreme nail treatments a tad too far.  Read on and decide for yourself if this new technique is revolting or the ultimate in recycling;

The real deal

Monterey, California nail tech and Bio Sculpture educator Terri Silacci had a light bulb moment when her son brought home a piece of snakeskin his science class was studying.  She began work to develop a strange and slithery new trend–using real snakeskin in a gel manicure.  A snake’s skins are shed naturally through the snake’s molting process 4-8 times a year as it loosens its outer layer of skin to accommodate growth and then passes between rough places to catch the loose outer layer and slough it off.  The skin that is left behind is sterilized and prepared into sheets that can be handled for this unusual manicure process.

A gel base is applied to the nail the same as it is for a regular gel nail service and then cured with UV light (which we know has been linked to higher instances of skin cancer on the hands of women who regularly get their nails done).  The sheets of snakeskin are then hand trimmed to fit the nail surface, dipped in clear gel before being applied to the prepared nail surface, and applied like wallpaper.  The process takes about 2 1/2 – 3 hours, and using real snake skin will cost you a whopping $300.

That’s right.  $300 to have the discarded outer membrane of a reptile glued to your hands.  What is this world coming to!?!?

The faux version via

If the thought of dishing out mucho moola to have snakeskin glued to your nails makes your blood run cold, there are of course other less creepy ways/more vegan ways to achieve this look.  There are faux versions of the treatment available at nail salons from coast to coast, but if you’d rather hang onto your dollars for a plane ticket to go visit the Amazon, you can get this look at home by following the easy instructions below.


See Also

  • Nail file/Buffer
  • Base color polish
  • Polish in contrasting color for scales
  • Piece of fine tulle, tight knit fishnet, or lace  (size is not particularly important, you can use on large strip or cut one up into smaller pieces for each individual nail.  Just make sure to use a piece that will be big enough for you to grab with your opposite hand to pull off!)
  • Topcoat
  • *Optional: make up sponge

1.) Soak, trim, file, and push back cuticles as needed.  To achieve a cool nail look that lasts, start off with nails that are clean, dry, and smooth.
2.) Apply basecoat if needed to protect nails from being stained by polish.  (Some polishes do not require a basecoat, depending on what brand you use.)
3.) Apply base color.  Snakeskin prints look great on an incredibly broad range of base colors like silver, bronze, copper, dark maroon, metallic blue, yellow, orange, jade green–let your imagination be your guide!  Allow to dry thoroughly.
4.) Next, take the tulle/fishnet/or lace and stretch it over the surface of your fully dried nail.  Take your contrasting nail color and apply it with the brush over the fabric, allowing the color to seep into the gaps in the weave.  *Alternately, you can spill out some of the contrast color onto a piece of paper or cardboard and apply in gentle tapping motions with a make up sponge.
5.) Allow contrast color to dry on nail surface with the fabric until the layer of polish feel sticky/almost dry to the touch.
6.) Remove fabric and repeat with a fresh bit of fabric on the next nail!  Finish with Topcoat when dry if you’d like, skip it if you want to keep the texture prominent.

Voilá!  Snake skin nail art without the animal skin or the steep price tag!

C. Eden Di Bianco is a hair and make up artist in New York who is creating conscious beauty, one individual at a time.  You can visit her site or book her for her incredible all-natural services via her site: