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You know what’s in season? Gold leaf. We’ve seen gold leaf used on a lot of things recently, but when it comes to beauty, the splendor of gold leaf seems to be perfect for cosmetics and nail art. Plus, gold foil is elegant and stylish, so you can use it for a number of occasions and events.

Using gold leaf for nail art is fun and—best of all—easy! And we believe it’s going to be your next favorite thing for your nails.

What is Gold Leaf?

First and foremost, let’s talk about gold leaf. This decorative material has been used for centuries as a way to add glamour to picture frames, books, architecture, furniture and more. In fact, the torch that is held by The Statue of Liberty is covered in 24 karat gold leaf. And there’s even edible gold leaf, too!

Gold leaf is also known as gold foil, and it is made by beating gold metal into a sheet that is no thicker than 0.12 microns. Copier paper is around 130 microns in thickness, if you wanted to make a quick comparison. Interestingly, real gold leaf is so thin that you can hold it up and see light penetrating through it. Even the gentlest of touches from a finger could destroy it.

How To Put Gold Leaf of Nails

Without further ado, let’s get right into our luxury manicure guide for gold leaf nail art. You will need the following things:

  • Base coat
  • Nail polish of any color
  • Top coat
  • Gold leaf
  • Tweezers or a toothpick

Now onto the tutorial:

  1. Start by making sure your nails are clean and not covered in any residual nail polish.
  2. Next, take your base coat and apply it. Wait for it to dry.
  3. Add two coats of your favorite nail polish.
  4. While your nail polish is still a bit tacky, pick up the gold leaf with either the toothpick or the tweezer and gently place those pieces upon your nails. You can tap the gold foil lightly with the tip of your finger or the toothpick to ensure it’s laying completely flat.
  5. Finish the nail with a top coat. Repeat for all other nails.

The Gold Leaf Mani or Pedicure

Want to create a unique look and have your fingernails match your toes? There’s another way to apply gold leaf (or silver or copper leaf) that will leave your hands and feet looking like a million bucks. Foil manicures and pedicures are one of the hottest trends right now, and the DIY version is actually very easy to accomplish. Just pour yourself a glass of wine and get ready for some fun!

You will need:

  • Your favorite mani/pedi tools
  • A clear or nude nail polish
  • ¼ sheet gold leaf (imitation gold leaf is fine)
  • A decent clear top coat


  • Begin by cutting the gold leaf into several strips. Try to keep the leaf as smooth as possible. Don’t let it crinkle.
  • Paint a single coat of nail polish on either your fingernails or toes.
  • Wait for the polish to get tacky (not entirely wet, slightly sticky) and gently apply a strip of gold leaf to the nail.
  • Carefully press the leaf onto the nail to bond the gold leaf to the polish. You can smooth out the wrinkles with your finger.
  • Repeat with each nail.
  • Seal the foil and polish with a quality topcoat, and you are done.

Easy, right? Best of all, whichever method you choose, you’re going to have gorgeous nails. You can quickly dress yourself up for a summertime or autumnal party, or just give yourself some TLC with gold leaf. Try swapping up the polish colors, and play around with both fuller strips of gold leaf and tiny tidbits. You’ll be amazed by how many gold leaf nail looks are out there.

Wrapping Up

There you have it—two ways to put gold leaf on nails. You have hundreds of options available to you just by following these two DIY gold leaf nail methods. Which one are you going to try first?

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you stick gold leaf on nails?

Step one: apply the base coat first, since it protects the nails. Step two: tear the foil into small pieces. Next, apply the nail color of your choice. Allow the nail polish to dry and then use tweezers to pick up the foil pieces and carefully place the foil on your nails. Let each piece dry onto the nails individually. Finally, apply the top coat to the foil and nails to seal everything in place.

How do you do gold leaf nails?

You can get creative with gold leaf nails. Either piece out the gold leaf into small pieces or make them bigger. You can apply a base coat to your nails, then a color coat before using tweezers and a light tap on the gold foil to set it in place. Afterwards, you seal with a top coat. Make sure the nails are drying in between each step.
Or you can check out the awesome video below by Hillary Dawn Herrera.

How do you use gold foil gel nails?

Gold foil gel nails follow the same tutorial that you will find in the above article: applying a base coat and the color, setting the foil, and then applying the top coat. Except you are using a gel polish rather than a regular lacquer.
Take a look at the great example below by NAILS Magazine