How to Give Yourself a Veiny Manicure

A totally random experiment.

Veins are pretty cool. They help pump blood through our bodies, keeping us alive. They resemble personal, brightly-colored road maps. And they look pretty hot protruding from someone’s arm when they’re playing the guitar (or maybe that’s just me?).

A while ago, Anaheed was asking for suggestions for her next manicure, and Tavi suggested vein nails. While Anaheed eschewed the idea for herself, I kept it in my back pocket, and when March’s exploration theme rolled around, my weirdo brain connected the two. So here is my tutorial, inspired by Tavi’s wild idea, and also the below tights from Studio M+O (they’re not available anymore, but you can get similar pairs through costume sites like this one if you keep an eye out).

You’ll need:

  • A sheer, creamy colored polish for your base, like Wet ’n’ Wild’s Mega Last Nail Color in 2% Milk
  • A true red nail polish like Milani Nail Lacquer in Toe-Mato-Red
  • A bright blue nail polish like Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear in Blue Me Away!
  • A crimson, bloody shade of red nail polish like Essie’s Bordeaux
  • A clear nail polish to use as a top coat, which should (hopefully) preserve your handiwork for a few days
  • A very fine-tipped paintbrush, available from craft or art supply stores
  • Paper towels
  • A capful of nail polish remover
  • A good deal of time

Step One

Paint your nails with two or three coats of the milky shade, and let them dry for a few minutes to prevent any smudging.

Step Two

Using your fine-tipped paint brush, dip into the bright red polish, and begin to slowly and steadily paint somewhat squiggly lines from the cuticle of your nail up to the tip. Take your time!

Step Three

Add “branches” to these lines, as if you were drawing a tree. Two or three for each line should be enough. If your paintbrush is starting to get all clumpy, just dip it in the capful of nail polish remover, wipe off on the paper towel, and try again.

Step Four

Repeat the previous two steps, but with your blue polish. If the blue “veins” overlap the red, it looks cool and natural, so don’t worry about it.

Step Five

For fun, I added a drop of “blood” to my ring finger. To do this, put a dollop of the red polish on the center of your nail, then use the paintbrush to craft a raindrop shape.

Step Six

Let your nails dry completely, then set with a clear nail polish. Repeat on your other hand. Since you were probably using your dominant hand before, this might take a bit longer, but if you’re patient, it’ll pay off, and you’ll be left with an awesome, unique-looking manicure!


  • Anna F. March 12th, 2012 3:16 PM

    Totally Ms. Frizzle.

  • Besu March 12th, 2012 3:17 PM

    This is sooo cool x

  • whodatgal March 12th, 2012 3:20 PM

    This is so cool :) By the way, how many hours behind is London from America? All the posts come late for me- Oh well!

    • Annie92 March 12th, 2012 4:45 PM

      I think it’s 5 hours, cos I always read the after school post at 8pm.

  • farawayfaerie March 12th, 2012 3:23 PM

    oooh, these are so cool, and I MUST HAVE THOSE TIGHTS! :]

  • Krista March 12th, 2012 3:48 PM

    This! This!

  • ellaronnie March 12th, 2012 3:49 PM

    This looks so cool! Unfortunately I’m born without capability of doing anything with my nails at all. I can hardly get them to grow. Sad truth of life..

  • Susann March 12th, 2012 4:02 PM

    Such a cool idea! I’m amazed by the tights!

  • Ellie March 12th, 2012 4:02 PM

    I just learned about veins in school. :3 Spectacular idea!

  • Abby March 12th, 2012 4:03 PM

    WHOA… I want to do this the next time I donate blood haha.

  • Adrienne March 12th, 2012 4:04 PM

    So awesome! I wish I could do this, though. My nails are naturely short and square (thanks for the genes, Dad).

  • Limey March 12th, 2012 4:21 PM

    Um, I’m kind of scared of veins


    • Flossie March 13th, 2012 12:12 AM

      Pretend they’re seaweed!

  • MissKnowItAll March 12th, 2012 4:27 PM

    Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus would totally do this.

  • Cosmo Beatrix March 12th, 2012 5:16 PM

    creaaativeeee, cool!

    ALSO may i ask where your ring is from? it is ceeuuuteeee!!!

  • Bloom March 12th, 2012 5:59 PM

    This is so awesome! I’m going to try doing this as soon as I can <3

  • starcollector March 12th, 2012 7:48 PM

    Seriously what is it about protruding veins on a musician that is so freaking attractive? Someone answer me this. Anyways, this tutorial was bloody good (HA!), I was just thinking my nails could use a change.

  • queserasera March 12th, 2012 7:56 PM

    love it! it would be perfect for blood donation day

  • Ben March 12th, 2012 7:58 PM

    I was going to do something like this once exept with thread for the veins and tiny printed pictures of human hearts. It was supposed to be for a Frida khalo outfit but i never got aroun d to it. I have used thread for nail decoration before and it was really cool. I even poked holes in the end of one nail (because they where really long) and sewed through it. I also made a peircing for my pinkie. I got lots of compliments. I feel inspired to do something interesting with my nails now after reading this. Thanks! =)

  • HelloAbby March 12th, 2012 8:29 PM

    A toothpick also works pretty well instead of a paint brush.

  • Toria Crux March 12th, 2012 9:24 PM

    Grossed my mom out by showing her this. So trying it!

  • happymelancholy March 12th, 2012 10:19 PM

    A new trend to start! I sorta got tired from all the cracked nail art going around here.

  • Carneece March 12th, 2012 11:16 PM

    Oh my god. I’m so afraid of veins. I want to give a kudos, but I think I have to lie down…

  • taylorhotel March 12th, 2012 11:43 PM

    I’m a big fan of this AND Hannah’s little gold hearts ring.

  • Casey March 13th, 2012 12:52 AM

    So. Effin. Cool.

  • Caden March 13th, 2012 3:43 AM

    The lady in the first photo is very beautiful! Also – I want those tights. I have some that look like skeleton legs..

  • Kailey March 13th, 2012 7:56 AM

    Omggg this is genius Hannah! <3_<3 Perfectly executed – the end result looks phenomenal! I think I will try this – only with a underwater coral theme!

  • sttefaaa March 13th, 2012 6:55 PM

    I like this!
    A bit freaky but i like it :D

  • geli15 March 13th, 2012 8:23 PM

    love this! can’t wait to try it out xx

  • clady March 13th, 2012 11:27 PM

    nerve :D
    good idea! :3
    be friends :)

  • ivoire March 15th, 2012 1:28 AM

    idk how veins and manicure suddenly came together but this is SO cool.

  • plushy1222 March 23rd, 2012 11:04 AM

    you girls think of the weirdest and coolest ideas !!!!! keep it up rookies!!! :)

  • Kathryn March 31st, 2012 11:55 AM

    I just did this and it looks awesome!! Thanks Rookie <3 <3 <3

  • gaia April 5th, 2012 3:19 PM

    I did this and it seriously looks so good! And when it starts chipping it’s barely noticeable (a big plus for me; I hate chipped nails). I’ve been recommending it to all my friends!

  • Toria Crux April 12th, 2012 8:35 PM

    I did this with shimmery nail polish. :)

  • Moxx July 3rd, 2012 11:04 PM

    I love this! Veins are beautiful.
    Just wish my left hand were stable enough to do this on my right, heh…