Liquid Nail Art Tape: Four Options

I'm continually amazed by the ingenuity of nail bloggers. If there's a problem to be solved in the nail art world, bloggers are on top of it! One of my very favorite nail blogger hacks (for lack of a better phrase) is the idea of "liquid painter's tape" for nails: or, to put it less simply, a substance you can paint onto your cuticles/fingers that dries into a polish-masking barrier on your skin. Anyone who's dabbled in nail art knows what a mess it can be (helloooo, water marbles and splatter manicures), so tools that help cut down on cleanup time are invaluable. I'm already a slow enough nail artist—I'll take any help I can get to be more efficient!

I don't know who first came up with the idea of liquid nail tape or what product started it all, so unfortunately, I can't give proper credit where it's due. However, I've seen and tried a variety of options for my own manicures, so I thought I'd do a roundup of them for you guys here, comparing things like price, ease of use, and effectiveness. Each option definitely has its own pros and cons, so I hope this helps you find a solution that works best for you.

I'll be discussing four liquid nail tape options in this post: white glue (also called Elmer's Glue, school glue, or PVA glue, depending on where you live), OPI Glitter Off, Liquid Palisade, and liquid latex. These are the four options I've seen used most often in the nail art world, but I'd love to hear about others out there—maybe this post can have a part two someday!

From left to right: white glue, OPI Glitter Off, Liquid Palisade, and liquid latex.

White Glue

This is the first liquid nail tape option I tried, back when the idea was still very new. I happened to have an empty polish bottle and some Elmer's Glue on hand, so it was technically free for me, but you can get a 7.625-ounce bottle of glue for USD $2–$4, depending on where you shop. When I first tried this several months ago, I was amazed by it—my gradient manicures didn't take ages to tape off and/or clean up anymore, hooray!—but glue as nail tape does have its flaws. It's thick and goopy, so it's not the easiest thing in the world to paint precisely around your nails, and the drying time isn't great: even a thin to moderate coat takes 5–7 minutes (or more) to dry completely. This kind of glue is also water soluble, so you can't use it for water marbling, and it can be tricky to peel off in one piece if your application isn't thick enough or if you have a ragged cuticle here and there. But other than those complaints (which really are pretty small, in the grand scheme of things), glue works well and I was happy with it for a long time.

OPI Glitter Off 

OPI's Glitter Off peel-able base coat is marketed for use under glitter polish to make the glitter peel off easily when you're ready to remove it. I tried Glitter Off for that purpose and didn't have a lot of luck (glitter defies all odds and cements itself ruthlessly to my nails no matter what), but it does work well as a liquid tape option. It's basically just watered down white glue, so it has many of the same pros and cons as glue, but with a couple differences: the thinner consistency and OPI brush make it much easier to apply, but on the flip side, it's much more expensive —about $9 for one bottle. So if you have an empty OPI bottle and are willing to try watering down some white glue, you might get the same results for a lot less money? I'm not sure. But I still like this option a lot and felt like the time saved, both during application and polish cleanup, was worth the money for me.

Liquid Palisade

Liquid Palisade is a super popular product right now, and I completely understand why—it's fantastic! There are some great reviews out there that detail the myriad uses for it, so I won't get into those here, but as liquid nail tape, it's just about perfect. It goes on easily, dries fast, peels off cleanly, can be used in water, and comes with a fine-tipped little brush that makes it easy to cover all the tricky little spaces around your nails.

My one major issue with Liquid Palisade is the price: $22 for a small bottle about the size of a mascara tube is pretty steep! I do think it's probably worth that, given the time you can save, but for someone who needs to use liquid tape options regularly, the cost can add up. Other minor issues with Liquid Palisade include the availability (through their site, on Amazon, and at a few other third-party sites, so you can probably find it just fine, but I had to wait for a restock when I ordered mine), and fact that it's unusable for those with latex allergies. It also takes a while (and uses a lot of product) to cover a whole fingertip for techniques like a water marble.

Liquid Latex

Finally, we have liquid latex. When I got my Liquid Palisade, I could tell right away that it was at least partly made of liquid latex—that scent is really specific and easy to identify. It didn't even occur to me to look for actual liquid latex until Halloween time rolled around again, because I'm just that dense, but then I saw some ladies on Instagram buying & using it and I realized that yes, as always, Amazon had me covered. At $11 for the pot of latex (that will last for ages), plus a few dollars for empty polish bottles and a set of small funnels, I was able to put together several bottles of the perfect liquid nail tape—plenty for me, and some to share, too.

Liquid latex has all the benefits of Liquid Palisade, plus it's cheaper and you can paint it on with whatever size nail art brush you want for different levels of coverage. The downsides are few: as the photo above shows, polish sometimes doesn't stick to the latex as well as it does to other substances, so you can get little bits that hang on around the edges after you remove it. These are easy to flick off or remove with acetone, however. And pure liquid latex does smell quite a bit stronger than Liquid Palisade! But overall, if you don't have a latex allergy, I think this is truly the perfect solution.

I didn't intend for this to turn into a liquid latex sales pitch, but I guess that level of enthusiasm is where I'm right now as far as nail tape solutions go. I just adore it so much! I'll definitely keep my Liquid Palisade around for fine detail applications around my nails, and for using as a mask on actual manicures to create designs, etc., but I'll be sticking with the regular latex for everything else. I don't see myself using the glue or OPI Glitter Off much anymore, but it's nice to have those on hand in case I find myself doing nail art on someone who can't use latex.

I'd love to hear what you all think: what liquid tape option(s) do you prefer? If there's one you'd like to see reviewed, or if you make one you'd like to see reviewed, please hit me up! I love new nail art innovations and I'd be excited to try more and see how they compare.

Thanks for reading!