Nail Art Tutorial: Pirate Nails

Pirate-Nails-Nail-Art-TutorialArr, swashbucklers and ye landlubbers alike may get a kick out of theseΒ Pirate Nails! (No bottle o’ rum is necessary, which makes them suitable for all ages.) πŸ˜‰

Last year I created many different Hallowe’en nail-art tutorials (soon I’ll do a ’round-up’ type of post in case you find it helpful to see all the ideas in one place).

This year, my schedule has been so packed, I wasn’t able to do Hallowe’en nail art, which seriously bums me out!

But I wasn’t going to let October 31st roll by without at least one new festive design!

Hehe, it’s been a little while since I had ‘eyeballs’ on my nails…and y’know what? I sorely missed them. (I like looking at nails and having them look back. We can…see eye to eye! *Groans*)

Hope that you’ll try out this design. I purposely tried to do a design that didn’t use too many colours so that it’s a look that more people will be able to attempt, regardless if you have a huge lacquer collection or not.

Pirate Nail ArtΒ Swatches

All swatches have:

  • CND Stickey Anchoring Base Coat
  • Skin:
    • China Glaze Snow (white)
    • Rimmel Princess Pink (light peach)
  • Pupil, Patch & Mouth:
    • Milani Nail Art in Black Sketch (This was provided by PR.)
  • Eye White:
    • China Glaze Snow (white)
  • Bandana:
  • Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Natural Light Photos


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Flash Photos

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Pirate Nail-Art Tutorial

Pirate Nails Nail Art Tutorial

Pirate Nail Art

*~* Pirate Nail Art Tutorial *~*


What I Used:

  1. CND Stickey Anchoring Base Coat
  2. Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat
  3. China Glaze Snow
  4. Rimmel Princess Pink
  5. OPI Vodka & Caviar
  6. Milani Nail Art Black Sketch
  7. Piece of foil
  8. Daniel Stone Art Tool #5

Step 1: Apply a Base Coat

Step 2: Create the Face

If you have a polish that’s skin-toned, you can paint with that right away and skip to Step 3. Unfortunately, I really don’t have any good or flattering skin-tone polishes in my stash that have full opacity.

All the opaque beiges were either too dirty, too yellow, or too peachy. And all the richer hues (not all pirates have light skin tones!) had shimmery finishes.

Instead of rushing out to buy another polish (as if I needΒ anotherΒ excuse!), I decided to use what I already have. I painted my nails with a white base so that when I layered my sheer ‘flesh-toned’ polish on top, it wouldn’t show any visible nail line.


2 coats of China Glaze Snow

Step 3: More ‘Face Time’Β 

After layering Rimmel Princess Pink on top of the white base, I was satisfied with the coverage and how it doesn’t look dirty against my skin tone.

Make sure that you wait about 5 minutes after you paint all your nails. And, if you had to layer like me, make sure you wait 10 minutes before proceeding.


2 coats of Rimmel Princess Pink over 2 coats of China Glaze Snow

Step 4: Add the Bandana

Although a pirate accessorizes with a bottle of rum and rotten teeth, he also wears a snazzy bandana. πŸ˜‰ I preferred to add the latter feature to the design, although it would be funny if you put a big bottle of rum on your thumb!

As you can see, I simply painted the red (OPI Vodka & Caviar – it’s one of my favourite red-jelly polishes of all time!) onto the top portion closest to the cuticles. It’s rather messy, but it’s quick. And if time is of the essence, this is the way to go.

(It made me giggle knowing that my little pirates had ‘caviar’ on their heads. And they probably appreciated having ‘vodka’, even if it wasn’t rum.) πŸ˜‰

If you realllly want it to be neater, my suggestion is that you wait for the ‘faces’ to dry completely (hehe, that sounds weird) and then use one of those French-tip nail guides. Then, you can paint just the red part.

Alternatively, you could paint all your nails red, wait for them to dry completely, and then use the French-tip nail guides to help you get a clean line when painting the ‘faces’.


Step 5: Begin the Eye Patch

He’s not a true pirate if he doesn’t have an eye patch, right?

Using your black nail striper, carefully draw diagonally lines as pictured below. Don’t worry if they’re not absolutely perfect. Pirates are far from perfect…although Johnny Depp as a pirate comes pretty darn close! πŸ˜‰

Seriously, when all your nails are finished and lined up, it’ll all ‘go’ together. Plus in person, your nails won’t be blown up like mine are on Swatch And Learn. Small imperfections ‘disappear’ in real life. It’s only when the camera zooms in like a hardcore critic.

(Remember, strive for nail art that makes you happy instead of nail art that’s absolutely perfect!)


Step 6: Give One-Eyed Willy an Eye

I have a dual-ended dotting tool, so I used the larger end to create the whites of the eyeballs.

Simply add a few drops of white polish onto your piece of foil, and then dip your dotting tool into it.

Tip:Β I recommend that you dip your dotting tool to pick up new polish for each eye. If you don’t, sometimes the result isn’t as opaque because you don’t have enough product on your dotting tool.

Another Tip:Β Remember, if you don’t have a dotting tool, you can also use a pen cap, the end of an old makeup brush, or the tip of a bobby pin!


Step 7: Jazz up His Bandana

Hey, those long adventures on the tumultuous seas can be very stressful! The least you can do is give your pirates a cute bandana, right? πŸ˜‰

Using a slightly smaller dotting tool dipped into the white polish, get spotty! This is the fun part because you can add as many or as few dots as you want. There’s no pattern. Just put them wherever there’s space. (Painting dots is kind of addictive!)


Step 8: Complete the Eye Patch

Clean off your dotting tool. (I just wipe it onto a piece of paper towel or a scrap piece of paper to get the majority of the polish off.)

Add some black polish onto your piece of foil. Then, dip your dotting tool into it. When you add the patch, try to use more than one dabbing motion to create a non-circular shape. Instead, try to make it a little triangular, if possible. If not, don’t worry – people will still be able to recognize what it is even if it’s round.


Step 9: Let Your Pirates See How Awesome They Look

Using my small end of the dotting tool, I added pupils to the whites of the eyes.

Tip:Β You can make them look at each other, up, down, or straight ahead if you change the position of the pupils. I didn’t want mine to be staring at me with ‘crazy eyes’…hehe, so I put the pupils near the bottom. It would be cute if you made them look all around, though.


Step 10: Let Your Pirates Get Mouthy

This is also a fun part to paint because you can completely change the look of the design with just a simple line.

I wanted my pirates to look friendly, so I gave them wide smiles that wouldn’t intimidate even a fly.

Tip:Β When painting the line, start from one outer edge and work your way in. Then do the same from the other side. After the two lines meet to form a single line, then go back with more polish and reshape or thicken the line.

Another Tip:Β If you want yours to be more menacing, just make the lines shorter and skewed. It’ll give them a sarcastic feel.

Yet Another Tip:Β If you want to do female pirates, you could make the lips red to look like lipstick. I think that’d be a cute touch.

After this step, please, please, please be patient and wait a long time for your nails to dry before proceeding. You really don’t want to smear all your hard work in the final step just because you jumped the gun!

(I was watching TV, and ended up waiting nearly an hour before proceeding to the next step! I know that’s a loooong time, but considering that I had 4 coats of polish just for the ‘skin’, I opted to be safe rather than sorry.)


Step 11: Apply a Top Coat

Hope you liked this little pirate nail-art tutorial and that you’ll try it out. Even when the results are perfect, people should clearly recognize what they are.

Also, by eliminating a few things, you could actually make your nails look like Toad (the ‘mushroom man’) from Super Mario Brothers!

Will you be wearing pirates on your nails? What’s the best thing about Hallowe’en? Do you have a favourite Hallowe’en candy?


22 thoughts on “Nail Art Tutorial: Pirate Nails

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Marta!

      Haha, well, if the pirates were like Johnny Depp and some other handsome lads who played with eye liner and nail polish, it sounds like a fun time to be had! πŸ˜‰

      I’m not sure if I’d be comfortable wearing just the ‘skin’ as a full manicure. (Wow, how creepy did that sound? Haha!) There’s something about soft neutrals that oddly intimidates me. I feel most comfortable in bold, contrasting, and out-there shades. Do you think I was a drag queen in a previous life? πŸ˜‰

  1. Angie

    This is too cute! I love pirates!

    I don’t have red or peach polish, so I’d probably end up with green pirates in purple bandanas or something! πŸ˜›

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Angie!

      Arrrrrrr! πŸ˜‰ You should try it – you’ll be surprised how easy it is to recreate.

      Hahaha…I LOVE your green pirates with purple bandanas idea. It’s so different, it combines my two favourite colours, and it’ll make your nails look original, that’s for sure! πŸ˜›

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey lawren!

      I was thinking about doing ghost nails because it was one of the classic designs that I hadn’t attempted last year, but the pirates won. (They threatened to throw me out to sea if I chose unwisely. At least that’s what the captain told me.) πŸ˜‰

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Brianna!

      It would be so cool if someone dresses up as a pirate and painted little pirate faces on their nails. It would be pirate overload, but…I’d dig it!

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Karen!

      YES! I love to hear it when people want to try a nail design. Makes me so happy! Please take photos, and feel free to post your manicure photo(s) on my Facebook wall. I’m sure that everyone would love to see your creativity.

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Paola!

      That’s awesome! Have fun painting these, and you’ll surely have fun having them look back at you. Please share photos of the finished look with me. I’d love to see. (Feel free to post your photo on my Facebook wall if you’d like!)

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Frosso!

      Oh, I love those little Lego pirates. Never had any, but secretly always wanted them. (Embrace the nerdiness, I say!)

      Haha, perfectly square nails would be sharp, too!

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Lilnol!

      Thank you! πŸ™‚ Do you think you’ll be trying this look out? It’s so easy, and I think you’ll giggle every time you look down at your nails.

  2. nayeli

    I love pirates and this nails are just perfect *w* I had already painted my Halloween nails but after I saw this, I knew I had to do them πŸ˜€ I’m so happy right now, thank you πŸ™‚

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey nayeli!

      WOW – that’s seriously high praise! Very flattering! THANK YOU so much. Makes me feel so happy knowing that you enjoyed this design so much. πŸ™‚


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