Oil-Slick Nails: Your Guide To The Holographic Mani Trend

Many nail trends are created to mimic physical objects or other phenomena in the world. For example, the iconic chocolate glazed donut nails are designed to look like the icing of their tasty namesake, and sweater-inspired nail art is painted in shapes to recreate the stitching of a comfortable cable knit sweater.

Another nail trend that was created to look like something else is the oil-slick nail trend. Oil-slick nails are a type of holographic manicure and are great if you want to add a little extra shine. Similar to oil spills, oil-slick nails have a shiny black base and ribbons of color throughout that only appear in certain lighting.

There are a few different ways to create the oil-slick look. One method involves painting your nails black and then stacking droplets of nail polish in different colors on one of your nails. You can use a toothpick to swirl around the colors until you have your desired look and repeat the process on each nail. There are plenty of other ways to create oil-slick nails and variations you can try too. 

Matte and marbled

One great option, if you're looking to make this trend your own, is to add a matte finish to your oil-slick nails. TikToker Alli Reiman first paints their nails black and then stacks the rainbow polishes on a paint palette. They mix the colors with a paintbrush instead of a toothpick and paint them directly onto the nails to create colorful swirls. They also paint over the final design with matte polish. If you are not a fan of super-glossy nails, this is an ideal variation. 

Color palette shake-up

You can choose any set of colors for the colorful stripes in your oil-slick nails. If you are not interested in a full rainbow, simply incorporate your favorite colors instead. This example features primarily shades of pink, with hints of blue and red featured as well. You can also see less of the black base coat, which you can cover with more color if you don't want it to be visible at all. The nails are left glossy this time around and have a more rounded shape — proving that any shape of nail works with this trend.

3D oil spill

Similar to the viral 3D raindrop nails manicure, this example features clear droplets on top of the oil-slick nails to give your manicure a three-dimensional twist. Once you have painted your nails and created the oil-slick base, use a thick clear gel polish to add the "oil" droplets on top. They can be painted on your nails using a toothpick, paintbrush, or dotting tool. Make your talons even more unique by placing the dots in different places on each nail.

Pretty in pink

Oil may typically be black or dark brown, but the base of your oil-slick manicure can be any color of the rainbow. Instagram user @mermaidmanicures entitled this one "Opal oil slick," choosing a pastel pink base instead of a darker one. The swirl of colors is a standard rainbow mix, but the glazed sheen on top makes these nails more unique. In fact, this oil-slick manicure is similar to the strawberry glazed nails trend, so it's a great option if you want to incorporate more than one trend into your manicure.

Transfer sheet magic

If you're too nervous to paint the colored elements on yourself, you can use nail transfer sheets to get a similar result. TikToker Samantha Jade (aka @jadeandpolished) used the Oil Slick Nail Art Transfer Foil set from Cirque Colors. If you want to follow in their footsteps, first paint your nails black and, once they're dry, paint another layer on with the Transfer Foil Base polish. Then, press the foil transfer sheets over your nails. Once you remove them, your talons will have a colorful, oil-like effect.

Respect the drip

Another option for a different kind of oil-slick manicure is to first paint your nails with the base color of choice (in this example, a matte finish is used). Next, add Transfer Foil Base Polish to the tops of your nails in a dripping-paint style, giving the effect that they are almost melting down your nails. Then, simply cover them with the foil transfer sheets. Remove the sheets and add a top coat over the drips, and you're all set!


Accent nails with a gradient effect can also work really well with an oil-slick manicure. Instead of using a black base coat on every nail, you can paint a base coat in a different color on one or two — such as a nude, like in the above example. On the black nails, add the oil-slick colors on the entire thing, but on the nude ones, apply it only to the top half and then blend. The result is an eye-catching gradient. If nude nails aren't your thing, simply choose another shade as the base for the gradient instead. 

Wild prints

Dare to walk on the wild side with a combination of oil-slick nails and attention-grabbing animal print. In this example, the manicurist chose leopard print as their pattern of choice, but this would also work with tiger stripes or a similar animal design. First, paint nails with the Transfer Foil base and cover them with foil transfer sheets. Or, if you are not using transfer sheets, paint the colorful oil slicks on yourself. Once your nails are dry, use black nail polish to paint the leopard spots on top. Easy! 

Milky, marbled oil slick nails

In this variation on the oil-slick nails trend, the base nail polish is the "milk bath" manicure trend. The oil-slick swirls do not have much dark polish included — instead, the colors are lighter and brighter. They are also only painted on the top half of the nails, with uneven edges to look like the polish is sliding down the nail. Each talon has a slightly different color as well, resulting in a fun, dynamic manicure.

Bejeweled oil slick nails

Nail artist and TikToker @ilysmnails added a little sparkly flair to their oil-slick nails. They chose to paint only the tops and sides of the nails black, leaving a milky base at the center. They used Transfer Foil Base and foil transfer sheets for the oil slick effect. In addition, they glued tiny gemstones to the bottom of the nail. The gems have a rainbow sparkle effect which nicely matches the effect left behind by the foil. This variation on a French manicure is sure to leave your nails shimmering too.