Monday, 6 June 2016

Review: Water decals/stickers by Nicole Diary

Recently I had the chance to review five sets of water decals by Nicole Diary. Nicole Diary is a new brand - at the moment you can find them on Amazon and Aliexpress, and follow them on Instagram.

Press sample [?]: These water decals were sent to me by Nicole Diary for my honest review.
There is a long post ahead! I did five different nail designs to feature each set that I received, and there is also a video tutorial showing how to use them. Read on to see all this, and to find out what I thought of these decals. At the end you'll also find a code for a free gift with your purchase from Nicole Diary!

Water decals are stickers that are 'activated' by soaking them in water for just 15-30 seconds. This makes the decal slightly sticky, which allows them to adhere to the nail. I'll start off with the video showing how these decals work, then I'll go through what I thought of them.

As you can see, it's a much simpler process compared to other nail art techniques like freehanding or stamping. It's definitely one of the easiest, if not the easiest, ways to get really detailed designs on your nails.

I have not used water decals before this, so I can't compare these to any other brand, but I think that these are of great quality. They are easy to apply, and none of them had any problems - they all worked well when I followed the instructions (which are supplied with the decals). You might have noticed from the video that the decal is very thin and flexible - this is not a bad thing at all, because it really helps the decal to stick and conform to the shape of your nail. Although they are thin, they don't break easily - none of the decals I used tore or broke.

Getting the decal to stick smoothly to your nail might still take some practice, and it will be more difficult if your nails are very curved. One downside of water decals is that they are single-use, so if you make a mistake and want to start over, you would have to use a new one.

On another note, I was pleased to find out that these decals actually have a transparent background, which means that you can get quite different looks by changing the base colour of your nails. I used a different base colour for each of my designs below. You can also get more variety by changing how you use the decal - you don't have to apply them over the whole nail. For two of my designs I only applied the decal to a section of each nail. This is also a good thing to try if you are struggling to get the decal to apply smoothly over an entire nail.

So in general, I do recommend Nicole Diary's water decals if you are looking for a cheap and easy way to create detailed designs. They are £1.40 (US$1.99) per sheet, and each sheet is 6 x 7.5 cm, separated into sections for ten nails. But unless you have very long nails, you are unlikely to need a whole section to cover one nail. If you have short nails, one sheet could easily fit 20 nails.

Now, on to the photos of my designs! I'll start with the one featured in the video. You can find the names of the polishes I used in the image captions.

Decal no.05
Nicole Diary water decal review by polilish
Bottle: Cadillacquer 'Dreams and Dust'
Nicole Diary water decal review by polilish
Close-up of the design, and the decal before use
I was pleased with how this turned out. I liked how the grey polish changed the look of the pattern to something more muted and subtle.

Decal no.10
Bottle: Leighton Denny 'Feel the Burn'. I made a mistake on the middle nail! Read more below.
Off-white ivory polish: Cirque Colors 'Don't Forget the Cannoli'
This was actually the first set that I tried out, so they didn't turn out so well! I used my finger instead of a dry brush to smooth the decal out, which was clumsy and left several few wrinkles. I attempted to fix that by adding a very thick layer of top coat. Unfortunately, this left visible bubbles, and on my middle finger I brushed over the nail too many times, and the top coat started to break down and remove bits of the decal. I don't think this is the decal's fault at all, as this only happened on this particular nail, and I brushed a lot of top coat over it.

Decal no.28
Nicole Diary water decal review by polilish
Bottle: A-England Virgin Queen
Nicole Diary water decal review by polilish
Pale pink polish: Cirque Colors 'Whitney'
For this decal I tried placing it over a light pink polish. Again, I think the whole design looks quite different over the pink as compared to the white sheet, so there is definitely room for creativity with these decals.

Decal no.30
Nicole Diary water decal review by polilish
Bottle: Pahlish 'Such Great Heights'
Nicole Diary water decal review by polilish
Ivory-white on tip of nail: Cirque Colors 'Don't Forget the Cannoli'
For this design, I first painted half of the nail blue and half ivory, then applied the decal only over the ivory section. I added silver striping tape across the middle, then finished it all with top coat.

I think this would have looked better if I had used a blue polish that matched the blue of the flower - but with all the polish that I own, this was actually the closest I had, and it's still way off! Can anyone recommend a blue of this shade?

Decal no.17
Geometric nail art with Nicole Diary water decals
Pink with iridescent flakies: Femme Fatale Cosmetics 'Crown of Ribbons'
Nicole Diary water decal review by polilish
In this close-up I added matte top coat to the design (Rimmel 'Pro Matte Finish')
Lastly, something geometric for a change from all the floral patterns! I carefully cut out the triangles from particular sections of the decal sheet, and placed them as shown. I also added a matte top coat (pictured in the close-up shot), and it didn't do anything weird to the decal. Of course, I added the matte top coat over a dry layer of glossy top coat, so I would have been surprised if it had affected the decal underneath.

If you would like to browse through Nicole Diary's selection of water decals, do check out their storefronts on Amazon and Aliexpress. The selection is large and very varied - there are even emoji decals! They ship internationally, and you can add the code 'Li2016' to your order note to get a small free gift (worth US$2 - $5) with your purchase.

Thanks for reading, feel free to let me know in the comments what you thought of this.


  1. Wow, thanks so much for sharing this store! I just spent the last few hours on what I call insomniac spending.

    1. I'm glad you like it! And I've definitely been there with the late-night spending - did some just last night!

  2. All the decals are beautiful but I loved the Decal no 5.