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How to Decorate a Cell Phone With Nail Polish

Katee is a freelance writer who enjoys doing easy, creative crafts, especially with kids.

Decorate your cell phone with nail polish!

Decorate your cell phone with nail polish!

DIY: How to Decorate a Phone (or Phone Case) With Nail Polish

Staring at the same cell phone day after day can get boring. Since most people are stuck with the same cell phone for as long as their contracts last, it can be nice to give your cell phone a facelift. Decorating a phone is a great way to spice up your gadgetry and make it look more fun and interesting.

If you want to paint your cell phone, nail polish is one of the best methods you can use. It’s permanent, waterproof, and durable. Not only that, but nail polish is readily available and relatively inexpensive, and it comes in a wide variety of colors. It’s the perfect medium for giving your old cell phone a more attractive appearance. You can also use these steps to paint a phone case!

Disclaimer: Use caution when decorating a cell phone because if done incorrectly, you could permanently damage it. Make sure that when you are painting your phone, you use precautions to ensure it is painted correctly so that it continues to function properly.

Materials Needed

  • Cell phone
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Q-tip or cotton swab
  • Nail polish
  • Plastic wrap/and tape
  • Nail polish remover
  • Stencil (optional)
  • Rhinestones and/or stickers

Step One: Choose Your Design

It’s a good idea to plan ahead and decide on your cell phone design in advance. If you want a really complicated design, on a piece of paper, sketch out the pattern that you want to use on your phone. Decide in advance what colors you will be using and where your design is going to be placed.

You don’t have to do this step, but it’s highly advised: planning your cell phone design in advance before you paint it will give you an end result that looks more organized and neat. It’s also less likely that mistakes will occur if you know exactly how you are going to paint your cell phone.

Step Two: Protect the Areas You Don’t Want to Get Paint on

There are certain areas of a cell phone that you definitely don’t want nail polish getting into. If paint gets into these spaces, your phone could stop functioning properly. If your cell phone has a camera, keyboard, or any keys or buttons, you will need to protect these areas before you start painting.

Also, make sure that you don’t get paint on the screen, microphone holes (it is possible to have more than one microphone hole), and speaker holes. Getting paint in these areas can ruin your phone, so be very careful.

Note: Some phones have holes that allow LED lights to shine through. These holes are so small that you can’t see them. You can only see the light that passes through them. If you have this feature, it’s important to keep this in mind when painting your cell phone; if you paint over these holes, the feature will no longer be useful.

Any place where your cell phone has a fine hole can be a vital feature for your cell phone to function properly. Keep this in mind when you are painting your cell phone and avoid these areas at all costs. Only paint areas that are smooth and flat that aren’t near any important cell phone features.

Protect these areas by covering them up with plastic wrap and tape. Locate the areas that you want to be protected, and place pieces of tape onto these areas. For large areas like the screen, you can place a piece of plastic wrap over it and secure it down with tape.

Protect your cell phone's buttons and holes.

Protect your cell phone's buttons and holes.

Step Three: Clean Your Cell Phone

You will need to wipe the area that you want to paint with rubbing alcohol. Take a Q-tip or cotton swab and dip it into a rubbing alcohol solution. The alcohol will remove any fingerprints, oils, and dirt that have accumulated on your phone. Before wiping your entire cell phone, test a small and inconspicuous area first.

Testing a small area out first will ensure that your cell phone does not have an adverse effect on the rubbing alcohol. Once you have established it is safe, wipe the area you plan on painting with rubbing alcohol. Wait one minute to allow the surface area to dry properly.

Clean your cell phone with rubbing alcohol.

Clean your cell phone with rubbing alcohol.

Step Four: Test Your Nail Polish out on a Small Area on the Phone

Just like you tested out the rubbing alcohol on your phone, it’s a good idea to test the nail polish on a small area of your phone to ensure that the nail polish reacts well with it. In some rare cases, the texture and material that your phone is made out of will make it very difficult to paint. It is better to find this out on a small surface area before you paint your entire cell phone. It’s important to take every precaution because you don’t want to ruin your phone!

Test the nail polish out on a small area.

Test the nail polish out on a small area.

Step Five: Paint Your Cell Phone

Here is the fun part! Now you can start painting your cell phone!

Choose a base coat and apply it to your phone. Depending on the nail polish and the look that you want, you might have to apply more than one coat of paint. For my phone, I chose an iridescent base coat and didn’t need the color to be uniform in every spot, so I only did one coat.

Once you have the desired effect for the base coat, let it dry, and then you can start painting on layers and adding shapes and designs to your phone.

Start painting your cell phone with nail polish.

Start painting your cell phone with nail polish.

If you want clean-cut edges on your phone, you can use a stencil or Scotch Tape to make your design. I wanted to keep my cell phone design very simple, so I used scotch tape. If you are going to use tape, make sure it’s one with a very light adhesive so you don’t remove any of your base coat nail polish. Apply nail polish in the design you want and allow it to dry before you remove the stencil or tape.

Place Scotch Tape on your phone to make a pattern.

Place Scotch Tape on your phone to make a pattern.

Use a Scotch Tape stencil to create shapes with nail polish.

Use a Scotch Tape stencil to create shapes with nail polish.

Start painting your design.

Start painting your design.

Paint a design on your cell phone with nail polish.

Paint a design on your cell phone with nail polish.

Once it has dried, you can remove the tape. If there are any mistakes or areas that you want to touch up, you can do so with a Q-tip and some nail polish remover.

Step Six: Apply a Topcoat to Your Cell Phone

Once you have finished painting your cell phone, place a top coat on your design to protect it from wear and tear. Nail polish is durable, but it can chip or flake off if you aren’t careful. A top coat will ensure that your lovely creation is protected.

Add a top coat to your cell phone paint job.

Add a top coat to your cell phone paint job.

This is the finished product: a cell phone decorated with nail polish.

This is the finished product: a cell phone decorated with nail polish.

Step Seven: Decorate Your Cell Phone With Stickers and Rhinestones

With some strong glue and a few rhinestones, you can add some more glitter to your cell phone. You can also add some carefully placed stickers to your phone to finish off the decorating.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Thanks For Stopping By!

Iris J on February 02, 2017:

Noway would I write on my phone crazy lol that's why they created Cases

WOmbat on June 12, 2016:

... that's nothing new, we did that like 10 years ago at least

Victoria Van Ness from Fountain, CO on February 15, 2014:

Very cute! I've seen some really creative phones decorated this way.

Mary Craig from New York on February 15, 2014:

Its easy to see how this was chosen as a HOTD! Not only good information and instructions but great pictures to go with!

Your caution is well placed and I have a feeling there will be nail polish on a lot of cell phones after this.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

vibesites from United States on January 03, 2013:

I have a spare and broken unit, I will test my so-called creativity on that. Really fun idea, and I guess it goes without saying that it will never do any harm on your phone. And oh... I think a nail polish with glitters will add shimmer to that!

Thanks for posting. Voted up and shared!

hhunterr from Highway 24 on January 03, 2013:

What sjkan and crystal flower said. Just too cool.

Sara from Pakistan on January 01, 2013:

wow! this is really cool, I'll try it.Thanks for sharing.

crystalflower on December 30, 2012:

Wow! that's cool.I like hand mades. Thanks.

CZCZCZ from Oregon on December 30, 2012:

Fun idea, my wife has used nail polish to color a variety of things, no cell phone designs yet, but this is a great idea.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on December 30, 2012:

Cute! I can totally see my nieces doing this. Congrats on HOTD! :-)

Tonette Fornillos from The City of Generals on December 30, 2012:

Wow, this is very creative and affordable. Perfectly green! I'm telling my nieces. My votes up and I'm sharing. HAPPY NEW YEAR Meow:=)

Chace from Charlotte, NC on December 30, 2012:

This is so cute and creative :)

Your Cousins from Atlanta, GA on December 30, 2012:

Interesting Hub and I agree that it's a great idea for a cellphone cover. You would never have to worry about being caught with the same design! Thumbs up on HOTD.

Fierce Manson from Atlanta on December 30, 2012:

That is just too cool. Who would have thought of decorating a cell phone with nail polish. That is one of the most original arts and crafts ideas I have ever seen. Great hub!

Petite Hubpages Fanatic from Hyderabad on December 30, 2012:

Wow! That's nice and creative.

Agnes on December 30, 2012:

That is quite interesting and very creative! Congratulations of Hub of The Day!

talfonso from Tampa Bay, FL on December 30, 2012:

Great idea - but like most others say, I'd get a separate case to paint on and leave the phone alone. (Hahahaha - it rhymes!) Oh, and I'd paint a coat of gloss, water-based Varathane on it instead of a topcoat because it doesn't peel off easily and it's UV resistant.

But nevertheless, it's a great idea to bling the phone up without using all rhinestones to bedeck it - especially for frugal people. They envy the Swarovski-crusted cases, but it's a good idea to have them create their own decorated phone cases without paying a lot.

Oh, and I have some Swarovski flatbacks, so a minimum I and my wallet see fit would work with this project.

Melanie Chisnall from Cape Town, South Africa on December 30, 2012:

I never thought about doing something like this. It's annoying when you can't find the right cellphone covers in shops, so this is a great idea for anyone who wants to get creative with their phones. Thanks for these tips and congrats on HOTD! :)

lanablackmoor from New England on December 30, 2012:

Very cool and unique DIY idea! I might have to try that on a case or two down the line, thanks! Voted up.

Recommendables from Los Angeles, California on December 30, 2012:

oh yes i too agree with james , i will never paint my phone , i would also rather get a plastic case and do masterpieces on it .... but anyway quiet innovative idea :)

Jay Samson on December 30, 2012:

That's neat! I personally would never paint my cellphone. I'd rather get a blank case and paint on the case. Nevertheless, great hub! I really enjoyed it and might send it off to my mother (she has an excess amount of nail polish lying around).

peachy from Home Sweet Home on December 09, 2012:

Very unique idea to use nail polish on cell phone. If i have spare cell phone, I would definitely design it. Bookmark this hub for future use. Thanks.