In Beauty, DIY on
June 6, 2012

DIY: iPhone Case Refurbishment #1 (Funky!)

How to Decorate an iPhone Case with Nail Polish

Last October I bought a beautiful Lauren Conrad limited edition iPhone case in preparation for me finally getting an iPhone. The above is what my case ended up looking like after a few months. The design was all beat up and the soft blue color was turning murky with age. Sad face!

I started the hunt for a new iPhone case worthy of my beautiful iPhone (I’m in love with it) and made a Pinterest board full of iPhone covers.

I quickly came to realize I have expensive taste! Thus, I started this project one creative night at around 11 PM.

Here is the long process I went through to make my first case. It would be much less of a hassle to buy a new case instead but I found this very fun and rewarding. It’s all up to you!

How to Decorate an iPhone Case with Nail Polish


  1. Nail polish remover. I get Beauty Secrets nail polish remover in bulk from Sally’s Beauty Supply.
  2. Cotton balls. I just grab the generic kind from wherever is convenient.
  3. Nail polish colors for your design. I used Forever 21 Lilac, The Balm Hot Ticket in I’ll Pink to That, Revlon Glimmer Gloss (Limited edition from a few years ago), and Revlon Plum Night.
  4. Top coat to seal everything. I used the Beauty Secrets Top Coat.
  5. Something to sketch out your design for practice and a permanent marker for if you need to draw any outlines first.
  6. Lots of time!


  1. Soak cotton balls in nail polish remover and have them sit on top of your iPhone case to take off the previous design. Let them sit for a few minutes and then wipe away. Repeat a million times! It took me about 15 cotton balls.  If you do not soak off the design the nail polish will react strangely to the material they use to overlay the design and create a bubbling weirdness (This is a very scientific tutorial! Haha). In the design I show tomorrow I didn’t take off the design, so you’ll see what a difference it makes. Trust me, if you want a smooth design you need to soak off the previous design. This took me about 45 minutes. Don’t get discouraged! Underneath will most likely be a normal piece of plastic.
  2. Wipe off the excess acetone and let it sit overnight so the smell goes away.
  3. Sketch the design you want to create and play with nail polish colors to practice. Of course you can use paints as well but I tend to like using nail polish. Not sure why! I based my design on something I saw in a magazine.
  4. Add layers of polish until you get the desired color. Work in thin layers so you don’t end up accidentally using a whole bottle of polish. I put on splotches of purple polish and then splotches of pink. On layers in between I put a sheer purple sparkly polish.
  5. Wait a whole day for it to dry. You don’t want to accidentally add finger prints!
  6. Then I used a permanent marker to outline where I wanted the animal print. The oils of my fingers made the marker smudge so you can’t use just markers. I then used a dark purple nail polish over where I laid out the print.
  7. Cover in a nail polish top coat! I have a really large top coat bottle from Sally’s Beauty Supply.
  8. Wait one day to dry.
  9. Wear and share!

Now you have a new iPhone case! I hope you enjoyed this write up! This iPhone case took me days to make and over an hour to take pictures of and write up, so spread the word! Click the Pinterest buttons to add it to your boards or share it on Facebook or Twitter.

How to Design an iPhone Case with Nail Polish

Thank you so much for reading! Come back tomorrow to see how I made my second case.

Update: DIY Chic iPhone Case

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  • Alice

    Wow this is so impressive! I’m the same when it comes to phone cases, expensive taste! Check out Kate Spades ones if you haven’t before, she does a great range – really beautiful designs, and you can usually get them on ebay for around £15 instead of the usual RRP of about £40! I got a beautiful Parisian scene one a few weeks ago and love it! :D


    June 6, 2012 at 7:41 am Reply
  • Rachel

    This is awesome Rebecca! I never thought that out of nail polish you can do a cool designs with your iPhone cases. This is a great idea. I will try this too!

    June 7, 2012 at 5:23 am Reply
    • rebeccakelsey

      I hope it turns out great! Let me know what comes of it.

      Kindness is the best accessory,

      June 8, 2012 at 12:02 pm Reply
  • Josie


    June 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm Reply
    • rebeccakelsey

      Thank you Josie!

      Kindness is the best accessory,

      June 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm Reply
  • Born27

    I really love your idea Rebecca! Thanks for the instruction and keep up the good work.

    June 10, 2012 at 11:00 pm Reply
    • rebeccakelsey

      Thanks so much!

      Kindness is the best accessory,

      June 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm Reply
  • Caroline

    I did mine, too! But have you noticed that sometimes it gets “stuck” to a surface? Not sure if the nail polish melts just a teensy bit or if it’s bc I didn’t have “top coat” so I sealed everything with “base coat.” Does yours get a little sticky on the back? How do I fix this? Thanks!

    December 21, 2012 at 10:35 am Reply
  • Anna

    I am planning to make myself a case also. I am wondering how long does the nail polish long? Does it chip or anything?

    February 8, 2013 at 6:38 pm Reply
    • rebeccakelsey

      Mine hasn’t chipped but it is possible. I don’t use them as often so it could wear away faster if used every day.

      Kindness is the best accessory,

      February 11, 2013 at 3:39 pm Reply
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