First things first: Select your serpent-inspired color palette. “The most common colors used to achieve a serpent, reptilian nail look include deep metallic green, black, and brown,” says Jin Soon Choi, editorial manicurist and founder of JINSoon. “Other colors such as holographic blue, purple, and teal are also popular.” Feel free to choose your own reptilian adventure here—but metallic or chrome hues will really help you nail that scaly effect.
OK, here comes the tricky part. “There are a few ways to create serpent nails with regular nail polish,” says Choi. You could opt for the netting method—after applying your polish of choice, apply netting on top while the polish is still wet (here’s a great option from Amazon), then finish with a top coat.
You could also use a nail art stamper or sponge to create a uniform scale pattern. Simply apply a base coat of polish, wait for it to dry completely, then dip your stamper into a metallic hue before lightly pressing it onto your nails. After attempting both netting and stamping, I found the latter method easiest—I didn’t have a proper stamper, but a regular kitchen sponge works just fine if you use the edge.
The pores of the sponge create a scaly, almost cloudlike effect. (If you choose dreamier pastel hues, you could easily create “cloud nails.” But that’s a tutorial for another day.) Just make sure to tap the sponge super lightly; if you press too firmly, the polish will bleed and create one big blob.