There’s been quite a few real gold leaf topcoats on the market this season, but they’re pricey and only 14 or 18K gold. They’re a fun luxurious touch for a special event, but too expensive to be a frequent gilt-y pleasure for me. (Hey-YO!)
Bad puns aside, if you want to have a real gold leaf manicure or pedicure but don’t want to put out a fortune, you can make your own! What got me started on this line of thinking was that I wanted a silver leaf topcoat, but I haven’t found any available here in Asia.
I am definitely not the first person to think this particular idea up, but I wanted to show it to you guys anyway!
First, you will need:
Clear polish (yes, mine is tinted a bit blue but any old one will do), mini silicone cup for mixing, and gold and silver leaf. I got mine online here and then of course I immediately found some at my local Burmese grocery store. But for those of you who don’t have a local Southeast Asian grocery store, I found this company’s service to be pretty good. Some craft stores may carry it as well, though it might be more expensive there.
First, crumple up the leaf. It is so thin, it will stick to fingers or anything remotely tacky, so I put mine in a teeny ziplock bag and rubbed it between my fingers a bit to break it up.
Next, I added a small amount of clear polish to my silicone baking cup, opened the baggie, and added the gold leaf. It was fairly large, so I swirled my brush through it a bit to make the Medium Gold Leaf (below).
If you want a smaller leaf, you can break it up by swirling the brush through the clear polish/leaf mix. The silver was exactly the same process.
The leaf is so flat that you could add several coats if you wanted a really dense effect. It would be very difficult to get full opacity and I’d recommend a foil for that, rather than the real gold leaf since it would get pretty expensive.
Finish it off with a good topcoat, since the leaf can snag if it’s not sealed well.
You can easily make an entire bottle of gold leaf polish by simply adding the gold leaf to the clear polish, but I’d recommend getting a 5ML bottle of polish vs the standard 15 ML, since you will need a substantial amount of leaf to make a 15ML bottle. If the gold flakes are too sparse in the polish mix, it will be a real pain to apply. Since I don’t gild myself every day, I just make up a fresh batch every time I’m feeling the urge to be glam.