How to Put on Glitter Nail Polish

Glitter nail polish is notorious for never looking like it’s supposed to. The glitter sometimes looks uneven, patchy, and clumpy, and it can take forever to dry. Topping up on layers doesn’t seem to do the trick either. 

The thing is, we’ve all been getting it wrong. How to put on glitter nail polish? For starters, you shouldn’t be applying it like you do normal nail polish. 

The trick is to apply glitter nail polish with a makeup sponge, something most of us already has lying around at home! With the quick and easy steps below, you’ll have even and opaque glitter nail polish without all the hassle.

What This Article Covers

How To Apply Glitter Nail Polish

Applying Glitter Nail Polish With A Sponge

It’s crazy, right? A makeup sponge is all we ever needed to end the glitter nail polish struggle. Makeup sponges are super versatile nail art tools and are especially great when learning how to blend nail polish

With a makeup sponge, you can create a full coverage, even layered glitter nail look that dries quickly.   

It’s because normal nail polish is smooth and spreads evenly with your nail polish applicator. With glitter nail polish, it doesn’t work that way. Glitter particles all migrate to one spot on your nail, leaving the rest embarrassingly bare.

Using a makeup sponge is a quick and easy way to lay down a solid layer of glitter nail polish that doesn’t move around or leave open patches.  

Apply A Base Coat

how to apply glitter nail polish

No matter what nail look you are doing, nail prep is the best way to ensure your nails don’t stain and your new nail look doesn’t chip or lift. 

Apply a base coat. We recommend ORLY Nail Defense to protect your nails and keep glitter nail polish bonded to your nails. Use it in conjunction with ORLY In-a-Snap top coat for nail protection and fresh glitter nails that last and stay chip-free. 

applying glitter nail polish

Keep Glitter Nail Polish Off Your Cuticle

Getting nail polish off your skin can be hard work and damaging to your cuticle. With a little forethought, you can save yourself a bunch of hassle. 

Use vaseline, tape, or cuticle oil to keep nail polish off your skin. Our ORLY Argon Cuticle Oil has the added benefit of hydrating and softening your cuticle during your manicure.  

how to apply glitter nail polish without a sponge

Apply it on your cuticle and make sure none of it is on your nail as it will prevent the nail polish from drying and bonding properly. 

Apply Glitter Nail Polish To Your Nails

Choose your glitter nail polish and get your makeup sponge ready. Apply a generous amount of glitter nail polish to the edge of the makeup sponge and then dab the sponge onto your nail. 

best way to apply glitter nail polish

Remove Tape/Vaseline

If you applied tape or Vaseline to your cuticle, you can remove it once the glitter nail polish has dried. If you applied cuticle oil, you can leave it to soak in and hydrate your nail for extra softness.

Apply A Top Coat

Apply a top coat to lock in the glitter and keep it chip-free. If you want that extra bit of shine to elevate your glitter nail look, use ORLY Glosser as your top coat. It is perfect for nail art, glitter, and vibrant colors. 

how to glitter nail polish

All Done

Sit back, relax, and admire. Who would have thought something as simple as a makeup sponge could create such a perfect glitter nail polish look? 

How To Apply Glitter Nail Polish Without A Sponge

For those nail enthusiasts that might not have a makeup sponge at home or choose to forgo them for environmental reasons, don’t stress. You can still create a flawless glitter nail polish look with other methods. 

All you need to do is use a different applicator.

Use A Q-Tip

Using a Q-Tip is the next best thing after a sponge. It’s in pretty much every household and it gives precise results when used to apply glitter nail polish. 

Prep your nails like usual and apply a base coat to prevent chipping and flaking. 

Use your mouth to dampen the Q-Tip. You want it to be only slightly damp to stop the cotton fibers from sticking to your nail polish. Using your mouth works the best. We’ve found that using a tap makes it too wet.  

Use your nail polish applicator to dab the glitter nail polish onto the Q-Tip. Then use the Q-Tip and dab the glitter nail polish onto your nail. Stamp the glitter nail polish until you are satisfied with the coverage. 

This method works well with small glitter particles, like ORLY Untouchable Decadence, to create a seamless and timeless glitter finish. 

applying glitter nail polish with a sponge

Once the glitter polish is dry, apply a top coat to keep your glitter nail polish looking fresh all week long. 

Use A Toothpick

Using a toothpick sounds like a strange way to apply nail polish but with glitter nail polish, using a toothpick gives you a tool to create a precise and clean glitter nail polish look. 

As before, prep your nails and apply a base coat. 

With the toothpick method, you can apply your glitter nail polish onto any type of waxy paper or surface. With your toothpick, pick up the glitter pieces and put them on your nails. This method can take a long time but will leave you with a clean glitter nail look. 
If you want to save time, another method is to paint your nail with glitter polish and use the toothpick to move around the polish or individual pieces of glitter. Or lay down a coat of our must-have nail polish, and finish it off with some spots of glitter. 

The toothpick method works best with glitter nail polishes that have large glitter particles like ORLY Kick Glass Nail Polish. With the toothpick method and our glass nail polish, you can create a super unique nail polish look. 

how to apply glitter nail polish evenly

When your nails have dried, finish your look off with a top coat. 

Enjoy your new look! And If you’re worried about the a bit difficult removal process, don’t fret. We know the best way to remove glitter nail polish

Which is the Best Way To Apply Glitter Nail Polish?

There is a clear winner when comparing which method works best for applying glitter nail polish. Using a makeup sponge is the easiest and leaves your nails with a perfect, even finish. 

Makeup sponges offer just the right amount of nail polish absorption and because of the even surface of the sponge, the glitter particles lie just right when dabbed onto your nails. They also work great when learning how to Ombre nail polish, another look that works great with glitter nail polish. 

Makeup sponges are also the easiest to handle and don’t require the same precision as Q-Tips or toothpicks. 

That being said, when applying glitter nail polish with bigger chunks of glitter, a toothpick can be a help. 

If it feels like too much work using a toothpick to individually pick up every piece of glitter, use a toothpick more as a finisher. After applying your glitter nail polish with a makeup sponge or a Q-Tip, go in with the toothpick to perfect your nail polish look. 

What is the Best Base Coat For Glitter Nail Polish?

Using the right base coat makes a world of difference. 

The right base coat will prevent chipping and create the perfect bond for whatever polish you choose to apply. A great base coat also protects your nails from stains and adds an extra layer of support for the wear and tear that comes with daily life. 

The best base coat for glitter nail polish is ORLY Bonder. Our Bonder is a rubberized base coat that gives excellent results every time. 

base coat for glitter nail polish

The rubber base coat is extra durable and flexible which means it moves and flexes with your nails instead of against it. You get to enjoy your nail looks without worrying that the polish will lift. 

Glitter nail polish is hard to apply and even harder to get off. It’s a lot of work for a nail look that might only last a few days. But with the revolutionary resin formula of Bonder combined with our ORLY In-a-Snap top coat, you can enjoy your nail polish look for up to 14 days. It’s the nail polish dream team. 

how to use glitter nail polish

For even longer-lasting glitter nails, try applying gel nail polish with your regular polish. With Orly gel nail polish, you can enjoy up to 14 days of gorgeous glitter nails


Applying glitter nail polish evenly and without a huge mess has always felt impossible for nail enthusiasts. But with a makeup sponge, a Q-Tip, or a toothpick, you can create glitter nails that look professionally done. 

how to use sparkle nail polish

Combined with our revolutionary base coats and top coats, you can enjoy your sparkly nails for weeks without worrying about chipping, fading, or lifting.

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