Holographic Glitter Gel Nails (aka Rockstar Nails)

This legacy post was one of my favorites to do. I’ve given it a bit of a facelift for flow and clarity, but the content remains the same! I shared these easy-to-reproduce glitter gel nails before the holo and chrome crazes took root – so take that, trends!

I recently reproduced some awesome glitter gel nails – but this time, with all ten in a stunning holo. You can see that on the BeautySkeptic Instagram.

Glitter gel nails, also referred to as rockstar nails, is a glitter-dense style is used both for accent nails as well as full manicures. This form of nail art is commonly considered a premium service (and is, therefore, more costly!) at salons, but glitter gel nails are easy and (to my surprise) fast. If you are so inclined, you can wear them all the time with minimal effort.

glittergel_11Glitter Gel Nails

If you’d like to learn how to achieve these glitter gel nails / rockstar nails, continue past the jump for details and a tutorial!

What you need:

  • Fine craft or cosmetic glitter
  • A flat-bristle paintbrush
  • A piece of wax paper or newspaper
    This is to catch errant glitter for easy cleanup and transfer back into the container.
  • Everything you need to do a regular gel manicure

This will work best if the gel color you are using is relatively close to the glitter you’re using. It isn’t a necessity though, so if you you want to use turquoise glitter and don’t have turquoise gel, don’t fret.


First, you will prep your nails as you would normally for a gel manicure.

  • Gently rough the surface using a buffing block. This just gives your nail some texture; be sure not to use something with too rough a grit.
  • Apply your base gel and cure in your lamp.

Glitter Gel Nails - Curing

PROTIP: If your glitter gel nails are only going to be accent nails, do them last. Go through and do your gel polish application on all, “normal,” nails first, through final top coat cure and tacky layer cleaning. I’m doing two accent nails on each hand, so the rest of my nails are already done.

Glitter Gel Nails - Gel Base Coat

Glitter Gel Application

  • Apply a coat of your gel color polish (or another base or clear layer) and cure. Don’t cleanse!
  • Grab your glitter. For this manicure I’m using this iridescent holographic silver from SuperNail from Sally Beauty Supply. (2017 Update: Tragically, this specific one is no longer available. If you like the look of this manicure, this BornPretty ultrafine glitter looks similar!)

Glitter Gel Nails - SuperNail Silver Rush

  • While still tacky, scoop some glitter out of the pot with a flat brush. This surprisingly hard while trying to operate a DSLR.

Glitter Gel Nails - Glitter Scoop

  • Drop the scooped-up glitter onto the nail you’re working on. You’ll have a pile of glitter on top of the tacky, cured gel.

Glitter Gel Nails - Glitter Dump

  • Pat the glitter into the tacky layer of the gel polish gently to establish an evenly distributed layer of glitter.
  • Once that layer is established, pat a little more firmly to set that layer in place.

Glitter Gel Nails - Patting it In

  • Next, with the end of the brush, sweep from side to side and back to forth across the nail bed.
    This is called scrubbing and helps any stubborn glitter particles lay flat on the nail bed. I do this for about 10 seconds per nail (it is longer than you think!) to ensure a flat, even finish.
    Also, thanks to my husband for taking the photo above and below!

Glitter Gel Nails - Scrubbing

  • Tap the surface of your now very-glittery nail with a light hand without ruining the finish. This profile shot is to show you how flat the glitter should be.

Glitter Gel Nails - First layer, side shot

  • Dust away any errant glitter away from the edges and side-walls of your nails – you don’t want your glitter gel nails to be untidy. You can use a separate fluffier paintbrush for this (like a dome brush), a cotton swab, or a tissue. I find that the first two work best.
  • While you’re at it, completely disregard your poor index finger that is now covered in glitter.
  • While you’re at that, admire the glitter-coated workspace below in the background. Seriously, the wax paper was a lifedesksaver.

Glitter Gel Nails - Dusted Off

  • Assess how happy you are with this level of glitter. Is it opaque enough for your taste? You can’t tell very well in this photo, but there were some patchy areas towards the cuticle area. The glitter I used the first time, though, was fine in one glitter coat.
  • Apply another on another clear gel coat and cure. (But don’t take the picture once you turn the freaking lamp on because that would make sense.)
  • If you’re good with the glitter density, apply a final top coat, cure, and cleanse.

Glitter Gel Nails - Final Cure

If you need more glitter, like this manicure did…

  • Repeat the glitter application step.
  • Next, finish with two layers of top coat gel, curing after each. You want to use two coats to ensure that the surface of the glitter gel nails is 100% smooth, glossy, and flawless.
  • Cleanse the top coat to remove the tackiness.
  • Finally, in an excellent example of, “Do As I Say Not As I Do,”clean up the rest of your hands so you don’t have glitter on your other cuticles.

Glitter Gel Nails - Finished

I mean, my nails could’ve woken up like this.

Glitter Gel Nails - Finished 2

Admire your glitter gel nails for at least a week, but upwards of two. You should get the same wear out of these as out of a regular gel manicure, but it may vary on the glitter you use and how rough you are on your nails.

I hope you enjoyed this and learned something you were hoping to learn from this. If you have any questions or if there is anything I can clarify, please don’t hesitate to ask!