9 beauty products that can give your Warhammer 40K minis a makeover

Sometimes I do my nails. Sometimes I paint my minis. And sometimes I paint my minis while I do my nails. The disciplines of nail art and miniature painting have a lot in common. They require patience and a steady hand, and they share many of the same tools and materials.

I don’t believe that beauty products can or should replace dedicated miniature painting tools. But in some cases, these essential estheticians can perform the same task at a fraction of the price of products made specifically for painting minis. In some cases, you can achieve unexpectedly cool results.

If you’re ready to expand your arsenal of miniature paintings with some less conventional tools, here are some of our suggestions that you can find online, or perhaps in the beauty section of your local drugstore.

Image: Artdone

31-piece nail art brush set

The best place to start is with synthetic nail art brushes. Pound for pound, these probably aren’t that different from what’s in your local hobby store. They come in a similar variety of brush shapes and sizes. Unless you find the aesthetic of their designs particularly offensive, you might consider opting for a pack of cheap nail art brushes if and when your current mini paint brushes need replacing.

Stock image of V05 Matte hair clay

Image: V05

V05 matte hair clay

If you paint a lot of minis, you can really put your brushes through the wringer, leaving them frayed and caked with acrylic residue after frequent use. However, with adequate maintenance you can extend the life of even the cheapest synthetic brush. While soap and hot water can pay off in making your brushes feel new, the tips will eventually lose their shape. To adjust this, we turn to hair products.

All credit for this clever suggestion goes to Midwinter minis. Use a small amount matte hair clay onto your brush tips and gently shape them in your palm before letting them harden overnight.

A stock photo of Sally Hansen Crackle Overcoat nail polish

Image: Sally Hansen

Sally Hansen Crackle Overcoat

Although nail polish has some similar properties to model paint, we don’t recommend using it unless you’re desperate. In general, nail polish is often a bit too thick to use on models, and it is sometimes more expensive per bottle than most nail polishes Citadel Paints. However, there are some similar nail supplies that can help you achieve some interesting effects, if you’re in a pinch.

For example, using a matte or glossy nail polish top coat can give your models a slimy or dry finish. Using “crackle” top layers can be great for adding terrain textures similar to those found on Citadel’s “Martian Ironearth” or “Astrogranit.”

A stock photo of a tube of 3D nail art gel

Image: Mizhse

3D nail art gel

If you want to add some extra texture to your minis, 3D nail art resin gel comes in a tube for easy application and is available in different colours. Use this to add veins, pimples, or other unsightly organic accents to your Plague Knight or Tyranid models.

A stock photo of generic metallic nail art flakes and nail powder

Image: Amazon

Metallic nail powder and nail flakes

To add a metallic shine to your minis, consider experimenting with it metallic nail powder or flakes. Prepare your mini by applying a thin coat of clear, glossy paint to the desired area and using a separate brush, lightly dust your model with your preferred accent. Unlike generic glitter, these options are so fine that they are unlikely to add any extra texture to your model. Make sure that any brush you use with glitter or flakes of any kind is labeled and kept specifically for this purpose. Not unless you want to glitter to end up on all your future minis.

A stock photo of an electric nail trimmer

Image: Airsee

Electric nail trimmer

Anyone who has ever put together miniatures or scale models knows how annoying thrush can be. While cuticle trimmers can be an inexpensive way to free your minis from their molds, they are generally not sturdy enough for long-term use against thick plastic, and their shape makes them difficult to place in hard-to-reach areas.

Even once you’ve collected all your pieces, manually sanding all the mounting points can be a chore. While a rotary drill such as a Dremel tool is a good choice and great for cutting through a variety of materials, a cheap electric nail drill can get the job done almost as well. Most models come with a variety of bits that should make short work of any mounting points or imperfections.

A stock photo of the Onilab centrifuge

Image: Onilab

Onilab centrifuge

If you’re using a number of different paints at once, it can be difficult to make sure they’re all mixed properly. If you would rather automate this annoying process, you can do so Onilab miniature centrifuge used for nail polish is equally suitable for processing acrylic paint in different bottles of different sizes.

A stock photo of a push pump bottle

Image: Amazon

Push pump bottle

Mixing water and paint thinner is a mistake you only make once. If you want to avoid these types of unfortunate incidents, you can store your chemicals in a special container. This kind small pump bottle is usually reserved for acetone (you can put whatever you want in it, though), and allows you to spread small amounts onto a cloth or whatever you use to clean your brushes.