Fake Or Real? Testing Viral Internet Nail Hacks
Updated: Apr 28
Through the augment of #viral videos on the internet, we’ve all been exposed to ‘Hack Videos’ which seem too good to be true sometimes, and most of the time are. We are gonna look at the 10 most viral hacks and see if they actually work, and if they do, are they worth your time?
Let’s jump right into it then, Sherlock mode on!
1. Ice Water To Dry Nails Fast
THE HACK : You must have seen the hack all over Instagram. A person is in a hurry and they want to dry their nails quickly. They dunk their hands in a bowl of #ice water, and voila! Dry nails that are completely dry to touch and pass the smudge test!
TESTING : I did the hack exactly as stated in the videos and all it did was turn my hands cold! Nail polish doesn’t freeze and harden doing this hack. It just brings the temperature of the nail polish down, which gives the false impression of dry nails. The solvent in the nail paint has to air dry for the nailpolish to actually dry and water defeats this purpose. So not only will you end up wasting your time, you’ll waste some precious water and ice too! Unless it's gel polish, there is no way nail polish is gonna dry instantly, so just time your manicure properly so you can get sufficient #dry time.
VERDICT : FAKE ❌
2. Steam For Matte Nails
THE HACK : I saw this hack and my first concern was, someone is gonna burn themselves doing this! Steam is hotter than boiling water, so beware when doing this one. In this hack, you hover your freshly painted nails over steam and the steam turns your nailpolish #matte!
TESTING : I was very excited for this one as it doesn’t need any specialty equipment. After painting my nails with a glossy polish, I let them #steam from all angles for a good 20 seconds (from a safe distance of course),and what would you know, they actually turned matte, well demi-matte! I then let them dry completely, wherein they retained their matte finish. The one drawback of this hack though, is that you can’t seal and protect your nail paint with a regular topcoat afterwards. The finish also isn’t as matte as a matte top coat would give. So this hack technically works, but i’d rather invest in a matte topcoat.
VERDICT : WORKS ✅ for a demi-matte finish.
3. Rubber Band To Open Bottle
THE HACK : We all have that coveted nail polish that shamefully sits in the corner of our drawers because the lid is dried shut and we haven’t been able to open it since last year. There are a ton of hacks which involve heating up the lid to make it expand and the nailpaint to melt to open up the bottle. But that doesn’t always work, and also ruins the lid of the bottle sometimes. This hack claims that a simple #rubber band tied around the lid of the bottle, will help open the bottle instantly!
TESTING : I took an old bottle of nailpaint, which still had liquid polish left, but had sealed shut because of the nailpaint at the rim drying. First I tried opening it using simply brute force, which didn’t work as my hands are usually slippery. Then I tied a rubber band around it. Second round: It took a little effort, but the bottle opened! The rubber band helped provide a good grip which made it easy to open. So this hack definitely works, and as a bonus, you can use this hack on any stuck lids!
VERDICT : WORKS ✅
4. Using Lipstick As Nailpaint
THE HACK : This hack irked me on another level. It's one thing to present something that doesn’t work as well as portrayed, but to promote outright lies? The audacity! The hack is to take your favourite lipstick shade, and to paint it onto your nails. Then to seal the “manicure” with a topcoat. And voila! You have your favourite #lipstick in nail polish form! Sounds too good right!? Imagine the multiple uses you could have with one #shade of colour then. Well, just imagine…
TESTING : Taking a not so loved lipstick (I ain’t wasting my MAC over this!) I painted the colour on clean dry nails. There was no point in letting it “dry”, but I still did, for good measure. Then I applied a clear glossy topcoat on top. The colour was bleeding all over and even stained my clear topcoat. I’ll admit it looks kinda decent at first, but that's it. It is very translucent and streaky. Once the top coat was completely dry, I went about my day, and what would you expect, the manicure was smudging and transferring all over. This one is a no-brainer, because lipstick is made out of wax and oils! There is no way it's going to stick to your nails. This one was a complete bust, and honestly a waste of my lipstick. Use your lipstick as a blush maybe, but definitely not nail polish.
VERDICT : FAKE ❌
5. Tea Bag For Broken Nails
THE HACK : It hurts our soul when we break our nails. Well not the soul, but it hurts nonetheless. Then you have to cut down the rest of your nails to make the lengths match 😔. This hack claims to save your broken nail by repairing it using a piece of a #tea bag, so you don’t have to cut down the nail and can paint it like normal. Let’s test it out then!
TESTING : There are many versions of this hack online where they use different solutions to stick the tea bag to the nail. For testing purposes I used ‘nail glue’ and a ‘basecoat’ on two different nails. The pieces of the tea bag were attached and buffed as shown in the pictures. Then I painted my nails as I regularly would and went on my merry way. I have a couple of observations:
The repair holds on, but only for a day or two at most. So this can be done for an event maybe, but you wouldn’t be able to keep your manicure long, unless you keep repeating it. At this point, cutting them down would be more convenient.
Nail glue definitely holds better than a base coat, the base coat gave out the first time my nails got wet.
This can work only for minor cracks and tears, if they are on the nail bed. Any major cracks on the free edge of the nail, this repair is just not strong enough to hold.
No matter how nicely you buff, you won’t get a perfectly smooth finish, because if you buff it too thin, the tea bag isn’t strong enough to hold the break anymore; and if you don’t buff enough, the bumpy glue will make obvious textural changes to the final manicure.
So I would say, this hack works, but not as well as you’d like it to. Use it for events and then take it off once it breaks. You should instead try avoiding nail breaks (see here how).
VERDICT : WORKS ✅ but is not a long term solution.
6. Cornstarch For Matte Nails
THE HACK : It must be really hard to get a hold of matte topcoats given the number of hacks for them. You might say, what if you are out of topcoat and need a matte finish in a pinch? Weird flex, but still, you'll need corn starch though, so pick your battles people.
TESTING : I found a couple of versions for this hack, so i'll break them down one by one.
Dusting wet nails with cornstarch:
This was by far the messiest one. You paint your nails, and before the polish dries completely, you sprinkle a generous amount of #cornstarch on top of your nails and wait for it to set. Then you dust off the excess, and in theory you should be left with matte nails. In reality though, what you are left with is a gloopy clumpy mess because the powder sticks unevenly and you are left with a bumpy mess of a manicure, making you wish you’d left them glossy. So this one was a complete fail ❌.
Mixing in cornstarch to the colour coat:
This was just a waste of good nail paint. Either just buy matte nail paint or a matte topcoat. You tip out some nail paint and mix in cornstarch and then paint your nails. The result is a thick gloopy nail paint that doesn’t go on smoothly and the paint dries out outside the bottle too quickly. You’d think putting the starch inside the bottle would be a better alternative, but no. Putting the starch inside the bottle is cumbersome, and it doesn’t mix evenly. You end up ruining the texture and application of a perfectly good polish. So this one, is a fail too ❌.
Mixing cornstarch in clear polish:
This one made the most sense to me. This is basically a #DIY topcoat. You mix a little bit of cornstarch in some clear polish and mix well. The final result, surprisingly, looks kind of like a matte topcoat. You then top off your manicure with it like you would a topcoat. Let dry completely. I was surprised to see a demi-matte finish! This doesn’t last as long though. So if you’re out of matte topcoat, you can definitely do this one in a pinch ✅.
VERDICT : WORKS ✅ for a demi-matte satin finish.
7. Nail Polish Remover Alternatives
THE HACK : Ever grabbed a bottle of nailpolish remover to remove your nail polish and discovered it was empty? Has happened to me a million times. Well it isn’t the end of the world, but what if you have somewhere important to go and such nails won’t be acceptable? That's where these hacks come in. They are DIY removers or other household products you can use instead. So let’s get right into it.
TESTING : So the most common one is a mixture of ‘vinegar and lemon’. Well these might be good natural cleaners, they do nada to nail polish! #Vinegar is a very weak acid and lemon is acidic. Both these are not solvents like #acetone and do not break down thick layers of nail polish to remove them. So you might be able to remove dirt and oil with them, but definitely not nail polish. Similarly, perfume, hairspray, toothpaste and hand sanitisers are not solvents! If they were, we wouldn’t be using them on our bodies and products so liberally! The other hack I have seen is to apply nail polish over old nail polish to remove it. Well this does work partially but then you are left with two polishes at the edges! So these videos might be able to trick us by removing freshly painted wet nail polish, but none of them truly work. So sadly, there is no replacement to nail polish remover, unless you manually buff them off.
VERDICT : FAKE ❌
8. Old Eyeshadow As Nailpolish
THE HACK : The internet thinks we just love making our nail polish. This hack involves your old expired eyeshadows which would otherwise go to waste and have to be thrown away for safety reasons. As a makeup user, I definitely have some of those unused shades just lying waiting for their imminent fate in my #makeup drawer, so why not give them a second life?
TESTING : So I crushed an old #eyeshadow to the best of my abilities. I mixed it with half a bottle of clear nail polish (because that gives space for the powder, plus stronger pigmentation). I do not have mixing balls just lying around my house, so I spent a good amount of time rolling and shaking the bottle to mix the pigment. Once satisfied, I painted my nails like I usually would. Well, it works like nailpaint, no doubt! But it wasn’t as impactful as regular polish, because eyeshadows contain other base ingredients in addition to the pigment. So what you get is a sheer, satin nail polish which isn’t as punchy and stunning as a regular creme nail polish. So for my personal taste, this is a useless hack, but if you want to have some fun with old makeup, go ahead.
VERDICT : WORKS ✅ but not worth it.
9. Fixing Smudges With Water
THE HACK : This is the one I was most curious about. It is very simple, but looks dubious. In the video, the person messes up a freshly painted nail, and rather than taking it off, they simply dab a wet finger (be it water, or spit !) onto the #smudge gently to smoothen it out. Once it is fairly smooth, they top it off with a topcoat, and it’s like the smudge never happened! This is something that always happens with most of us, so lets try it out.
TESTING : I painted my nails, and very painstakingly, purposely smudged one by touching my finger onto it. Then I dipped my pointer finger into water and tried to smooth it out as shown in the video. As expected, the water and polish don’t mix, so I was just moving around malleable polish to flatten it out. I smoothed it out best to my abilities, but it started pushing out of the nail, so I scraped it off. Now, the nail paint was relatively smooth and “dent free”, but the polish had thinned out at the spot. So I let it dry completely and then applied another layer of nail polish on top of it. That took care of the bald spot. I topped my nail off with a topcoat, and it’s like the smudge ever even happened. So this hack definitely works, but only for freshly painted nails! You can’t repair a day old dent with this hack.
VERDICT : Works ✅
10. PVA Glue As A Peel Off Base
THE HACK : Glitter polish, as pretty to look at, is a big pain to take off. There are methods to remove it easily (see here) but what if you could just peel them off once you are done? No acetone or effort required? There is a product in the market called ‘a peel off base coat’ that does just that! But it isn’t available in stores easily and can be too #expensive to order online. This hack gives us a DIY version using #PVA glue (Elmer's glue) to make a peel off base coat on a budget.
TESTING : The online videos don’t really give out measurements, but judging from the videos I made a concoction in a 2:1, PVA to water ratio. I mixed it well and then painted a layer onto my nails. It didn’t go on very easy or smooth, but it did the job. I also observed some shrinkage at the ends as the water evaporated. It took 15 minutes for the layer to dry, so keep that in mind. Once dry, I painted my glitter polish like I normally would. The nail polish stayed in place once dry, but the base would get soft every time I wet my nails. So I took them off after a day. It did not pop off or peel off, but came out in little flecks and chunks which needed quite a bit of scraping. So I would suggest to ‘peel’ them off after your shower when the glue is wet. So does it work? Yes. But does it work as well as its branded counterparts? No. Would I use it for the ease of glitter removal? No. The scraping would be more harmful than just using the acetone soak method. So this hack is not for me.
VERDICT : Works ✅ but not worth it.
There you have it. Some of the most viral internet nail hacks, tried and tested. I obviously didn’t cover them all, so if you have any hack in particular that you want to know more about, leave them in the comments below. Check out the blog for more nail art inspiration and tips and hacks. Have fun “hacking” your nails!
P.S.- None of the images used are owned by us unless watermarked with @nails_by_sujata.