Decorating your nails with 3D charms isn’t a recent invention. I remember people wearing stud earrings in their fingernails in junior high. Was that a great idea? No, it’s a great way to split your nails and lose an earring. But for as long as we’ve been adding colors to our nails, we’ve been wondering what else can we stick on there.
Thankfully, we’ve entered into a time when specialized 3D nail art supplies are easy to find and affordable.
What is 3D nail art?
Anything you add to your nails that changes their profile counts as 3D nail crystals . So adding a hologram foil would not be 3D nail art because, in the end, your nail is still smooth and flat. Examples include gluing rhinestones, bows, charms, or flowers to your nails as well as sculpting unique shapes out of nail acrylic powders.
How do you get anything done with those things on your nails?
Going about life with 3D nail art really isn’t that much different from living with long nails. It takes a little extra thought at first to remember to change how you open drawers and soda cans, but once you get in the habit of it, it can become automatic. Still, many people choose to wear 3D nail art only for big events.
How long will 3D nail art last?
That completely depends on the type of nail art, how it’s attached, and how roughly you treat your hands. People whose nails run into regular impact, either by profession or hobby, aren’t great candidates for 3D nail art. If you’re into rock climbing or other sports, type for a living, work with water, or wash your hands a lot, your nail art won’t last you very long and you should probably save it for special occasions for that extra bling.
As a rule, 3D nail art, and nail art in general, is going to last longer when used with gel nail polish or acrylic because the bond with those materials is simply stronger than you can get with regular nail polish.
If you’re interested in doing your own gel nail polish at home check out my guides to the best gel nail polish brands and best UV and LED nail lamps.
Can you do 3D nail art on regular nail polish?
Absolutely, but it’s going to be more short lived than with a gel bonder. For regular nail polish use a quality nail glue or a strong clear top coat. Read my guide to the best top coats for long lasting nail polish for suggestions.
Now let’s get to the fun stuff and the best supplies around for 3D nail art.
1. 3D Nail Art Rhinestone Charms
If what you want is serious nail bling, these rhinestone studs are all you could ask for. They’re big, bright, and have serious shine. One of these is perfect for an accent nail on a classic French manicure. The designs bring a more interesting look than just simple round acrylic rhinestone. These shapes look much more like they could be the pendants on diamond necklaces or the gems on engagement rings. They aren’t subtle, but sometimes that’s exactly what you want. You get 12 unique design rhinestone charms in this nail art wheel.
2. Xichen Real Dried Flowers
There’s something so cool about having real flowers as part of your nails. It makes me think of spring nymphs and magical forest fairies. It looks complicated but, it’s not much harder than adding any other 3D charm to your nail. This set from Xichen gives a set of 12 colors of five-petal flowers and 12 colors of larger flowers that are made up of teeny tiny flowers that you’ll want to cut up into smaller pieces. Pressed flowers aren’t as raised on your nail as other 3D nail art and sometimes you can even cap it with clear gel or acrylic rhinestone to get smooth, but thick, nails. This is a perfect look for spring and summer.
3. Mudder 6 Pieces Nail Art Tweezers Kit
If you think trying to pick up those tiny, fragile flowers or little, slippery rhinestones looks like a headache–you’re right, but the proper tools turn it into a breeze. This six piece Nail Art Tweezers Kit from Mudder has all the tools you need pick up the smallest nail charms with precision. Six small tweezers give you a range of sizes and shapes from pointed to wide and flat. The set comes with a storage case and elastic slots to keep everything organized. Your tweezer set arrives with plastic safety caps on them because some of the fine tip tweezers can be very sharp. It’s always best to store your tweezers with these caps on so you don’t accidentally snag yourself on them. When you have the right tools, nail art starts being a lot more fun.
4. Mia Secret Nail Art Acrylic Powder Fruity Collection
With a set of acrylic rhinestone powders, you can sculpt your own, unique nail charms. When mixed with a liquid monomer, these powders turn into a versatile nail product. As a liquid, you can paint them over your nails and you’ve got acrylic nail polish that will last you much longer than regular polish. If you use a little less monomer, you can get a consistency like very soft clay that you can sculpt and build into anything you want from flowers to 3D animals. Let your creativity run wild. This acrylic set from Mia Secret comes with 12 bright colors that really pop. Check out the below video for swatches.
5. Mopretty Nail Art Rhinestone Glue
When you need a strong bonder to keep those crystals in place, this Rhinestone Glue from Mopretty is the best UV resin bonder out there. It’s strong, easy to work with, and viscous so there’s less risk of it running all over where you don’t want it. In order to dry completely, this glue does need a UV lamp to cure the glue into its rock hard state. Read my guide to the best UV and LED nail lamps to see which is best for you. That’s another plus for this glue, in my opinion, because if you accidentally glue yourself to the table (I’m a total klutz) the glue won’t completely dry unless it’s been cured under a light so that gives you more leeway than an air-drying glue like super glue.
6. 3D Nail Art Natural Dried Coral
If you thought the dried flowers were neat, but you’re more of a nautical person, then check out this dried coral. These coral shapes come in this organized case and they’re dyed in 12 different colors. The clusters are large, so you’ll want to cut off tiny sections like with the dried flowers. Because of their spiky shape, you won’t be able lay these quite as flat, but you can encapsulate them with gel fairly well. They’re softer than you’d expect because I’m pretty sure they’re a resin cast molded from coral instead of real coral, which I’m actually glad about. Our coral reefs are a mess as it is without harvesting coral for our nails. The 12 colors are very pastel and would be perfect with a mermaid look manicure.
7. Nail Art Sea Charms
To go with our coral above, this nail art charm wheel has a great variety of ocean-themed decorations. The wheel has a combination of small and large decorations in 12 different types including three different shapes of seashells, each in gold and silver, as well as gold and silver starfish. For larger charms you have anchors, mermaids, seahorses, and one sea turtle. In total, you get around 50 charms to work with. The rounded seashells don’t have flat backs, so they can be a little trickier to apply, but they will look more true to life.
8. Rain Queen 3D Nail Art Rhinestones
For a diamond-encrusted look, check out these rhinestones from Rain Queen. They’re incredibly sparkly and will catch everyone’s eye. The neat thing about these is that they are made specifically for nails so that smooth backing has a slight curve to it and rests flush to your nail surface. This makes them more stable and easier to apply. They’re fairly big at around 10 millimeters long so just be aware that these aren’t for the faint of heart. These are for bold nails. This comes in a package of five rhinestone charms.
9. Crystal Pick Up Tools & Rhinestone Plates
Tweezers are the traditional tool of picking up rhinestones, but for folks with hand issues like carpal tunnel, squeezing tweezers can be a challenge. Or if you’re just really clumsy and tend to drop everything, like I do, you may prefer these Crystal Pick Up Tools or wax pens. With a fine tip, all you have to do is touch it to your tiny rhinestones and the stone will stick to it. Because it’s wax and not actually sticky, the acrylic rhinestone will come right off the wax pen when you apply it to your nail. It’s like magic.
As much as they’re easier for some, these wax pens won’t last forever, unlike a good pair of tweezers. You keep them fresh by sharpening them like a pencil right in your regular pencil sharpener. They can also pick up dust or pet hair.. These two wax pens come with three tiny plates that make it easier for you to set out your tiny nail charms without them sliding all over your table.
10. Mixed Flat-Back Rhinestones
How pretty are these? This Swarovski crystal mix comes with 144 round rhinestones of varying sizes in soft, pastel colors. Imported from Austria, they have all the sparkle you expect from Swarovski crystals. The set has a range of seven sizes from tiny (1.8 millimeters) to bling (6.4 millimeters). You get many more stones of the smaller sizes than you do of the larger ones, which I don’t mind at all since the smaller rhinestones are better for nail art anyway. The backs of the rhinestones are flat, making them easier to attach to your nails than rounded gems.