Make Your Own Gold Leaf Top Coat for Less than $6

April 8, 2013Allison Murray

Gold leaf top coat, make at home and save BIG bucks!

I know that gold leaf top coat has been a thing for a few years now. Unfortunately I tend to run a quarter hour late to never on the hippest of the hip so I’m just now getting on this train. But when I decided I wanted it, I wanted it.

Gold leaf top coat, make at home and save BIG bucks!

So I hop online and find that the stuff costs between $30 – $50 a bottle and decide that is wholly unacceptable. After all, I have a decent amount of gold leaf left over after making my suspended gold leaf bangle and a cheap top coat will cost me a whole dollar. Yeah, I’ll experiment for the investment of $1.


It’s a pretty simple project. Take your gold leaf and put it into the clear top coat. Mine came out okay but I’ll share with you what I learned from my mistakes to go from okay to awesome!

UPDATE — Going to get my gold leaf polish out today I saw that it had TURNED GREEN! The actual gold is fine but rather than the polish being clear, it is a nasty green color. I went all over the place and Googled the heck out of things only to find comments on posts just like this from disappointed readers who essentially ruined gold leaf and clear nail polish. 

The answer is pretty simple, though. The gold has a chemical reaction with the chemicals in fingernail polish that cause it to quickly tarnish. If your gold leaf is faux and made of copper this is going to be even worse and may actually turn green within hours rather than days. Instead of using gold leaf purchased from a hobby store, you’ll need to purchase it from a beauty supply store, like Sally’s or you can buy some here online

Sorry for the interruption and continue on with the DIY!

  • I should have broken the gold leaf into smaller bits. I tested out the theory of making my own by pouring a bit out and mixing it up on a piece of paper. In the end, it was perfect. When I added to my bottle, however, I didn’t take the time to really chop up the sheets for some reason thinking they’d fall apart once they got in there. They don’t.
  • What I did chop up I tried to use my fingernails on and I learned that gold leaf is kind of oddly sticky (which is why I quit chopping it up). Next time I will use my x-acto knife or perhaps a gift card or something instead.
  • Because I can be the queen of overkill, I put waaaay too much gold leaf into my little bottle. I’d say put about half you think you’d want in there, give it a good stir (a wood skewer works incredibly well) and test it out. Needs a bit more? Keep going. Happy with it? Perfect!

Now I already had my supplies on hand so my experimentation was free.  But the total cost would have been $6.99 for my gold leaf (at Michael’s with a 40% off coupon I actually paid $4.20 + tax) $5.30 with shipping via Amazon and my cheapie top coat was $0.99. So basically you can get everything you need to make your own gold leaf top coat will cost you under  just over $6. That’s a far cry from $30-50, isn’t it!?!

But if you’re not the DIY type and more of an add to cart type, you can buy OPI’s It’s Real 18K for about $40 with shipping. So, what do you think? Gonna give your nails the King Midas touch?

Comments (8)

  • Lauren @ The Thinking Closet

    April 9, 2013 at 4:10 AM

    Wow! I love your gusto to take on new crafts and just blasting full speed ahead. You are so inspiring, Allison. And thanks for sharing the tips and tricks you learned along the way. Although I'm terrible at doing my own nails, this could be a fun craft to do as a gift for friends and family…especially around the holidays! Do post a pic of your nails all gold-i-fied next time you use this! I'd love to see the effect in action.

  • Midsommarflicka

    April 10, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    Oh, how cool to make that by yourself!
    If I would be able to have nail polish longer on my nails than just a day, before it breaks away… maybe I would try it! ;)
    Maybe I try it anyway!

    Love, Midsommarflicka

  • Allison Murray

    April 11, 2013 at 2:10 AM

    Thanks! I didn't get a pic of my pretty nails before I destroyed them playing with plaster of paris :)

  • FussR

    April 12, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    CLEVER! Thanks for your inspiration.

  • Literati

    May 19, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    How has the new gold leaf held up… did it turn green or is all well?

  • Allison Murray

    May 19, 2013 at 11:59 PM

    Hey, Literati – my top coat did turn green but that was due to using the craft store gold leaf. I personally have not tried the nail gold leaf (near the bottom of the post) but I've heard from readers who have said that theirs is holding up very well!

  • Melanie

    January 7, 2014 at 9:44 PM

    I am so glad i found thiS!!! The thing that did it for me and sealed the deal on me following your blog was when i saw how you posted the mistakes and the flooks you went through, so others dont have to. In my career field, it is not all about the glory and showcasing perfection but rather teaching people how not to make the same mistakes or how to do better when they try something. I dont know you but i already HEART YOU :)

    1. Allison

      January 10, 2014 at 11:04 AM

      Well, I heart you, too! And what a jerk I’d be if I let everybody waste their money and time with a bad tutorial! So glad that I’ll be seeing you around here :)

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