Friday, July 25, 2014

Gradient Nail Tutorial

Hi guys!  So if any of you are nail polish addicts like me, you probably have a plethora of old, unwanted, rarely used nail polishes.  I was trying to figure out what to do with mine when I decided I might as well try to incorporate them into my nail looks.

Today, I decided to grab a few of the pinks that I haven't touched in forever.  I was trying to decide what to do with them and figured maybe a simple nail gradient would be fun.  To go along with that, I figured I might as well do a quick tutorial on the nail look!  To start, I grabbed a handful of polishes that looked like they might work together, a small make up sponge to make the gradient effect, and a bottle of acetone for cleaning.

Gradient Nail Setup
Gradient Nail Setup
The polishes I chose were pretty random and I wasn't sure how they would work together.  I swatched each color on a piece of paper first to see how I might want to use them.  I decided to use the L'Oreal polish as a base color and then use the remaining three (Essie, Sinful Colors, Love & Beauty) for the actual gradient.

TL: Love & Beauty Bubble Gum, TR: L'Oreal Colour Riche Macaron Noisette BL: Essie Your Hut or Mine, BR: Sinful Colors, You Just Wait
TL: Love & Beauty Bubble Gum, TR: L'Oreal Colour Riche Macaron Noisette
BL: Essie Your Hut or Mine, BR: Sinful Colors, You Just Wait
Polish Swatch
Swatched the four polishes
Before I started with the base color, I started with a base coat.  I currently use the generic Ulta base coat, but I'm almost out!  Does anyone have a base coat recommendation?  After my base coat, I painted two coats of the L'Oreal Macaron Noisette.  Side note- I LOVEEEE these L'Oreal colour riche polishes.  I first found them when I was in Belgium and immediately became obsessed.  They are a slightly thicker formula and because of that, tend to stay on for almost two weeks without chipping!

Base Coat and Base Color
Base coat -> Base Color... so neutral!
L'Oreal Colour Riche Macaron Noisette
Close Up of L'Oreal Colour Riche Macaron Noisette
I chose the L'Oreal polish as the base color because as you can see, it's super nude and close to my skin color.  I didn't want to brighten the colors too much so I figured it would be a good base for the gradient.  Next, I decided to create a gradient using Essie Your Hut or Mine, Love & Beauty Bubble Gum, and Sinful Colors You Just Wait.  Before dabbing these colors on a make up sponge and sponging onto my nails, I taped the sides of my nails to make the clean up process easier.  After starting to sponge, I quickly realied the You Just Wait was way too sheer to contribute to the gradient so then I just took it out and created a two tone gradient with the Essie and Love & Beauty polishes.

Nail Taping
Taped around my nails
Nail Sponge
Time to sponge!
Nail Sponging
Close up of the sponging... Already switched to two tone gradient
Sponging Complete
Sponging complete!
After I finished dabbing the sponge on all my nails (I did two coats of the sponging), I removed the tape and was left with a slight mess around my nails.  The tape definitely kept it cleaner than it would have been otherwise, though!

Post Sponge Clean Up
Post Sponge Clean Up
To clean up my nails, I used a bottle of acetone (from Target) and eye make up q-tips.  I HIGHLY recommend both of these.  The acetone makes the clean up MUCH faster and the make up q-tips are pointed and therefore, are easier to use when cleaning up small spots around your nails.

Clean Up Materials
Clean Up Materials
After cleaning up the polish around my nails, I decided I wanted to add something else to my nails because they seemed too boring with only a two tone gradient.  I randomly picked a polish from my polish collection and decided to add some dot accents to my nails.  I used a dotting tool for this, but a toothpick, pen, or pencil are things I have used in the past when I didn't have dotting tools accessible.

Sally Hansen's Mellow Yellow
Sally Hansen's Mellow Yellow
The yellow dots added a nice touch to my two tone gradient nails.  After finishing the dot accents, I added a quick layer of Seche Vite (which btw, is the BEST top coat ever) to my nails to finish things off.  The final manicure is below. 

Seche Vite
Seche Vite... BEST TOP COAT!
Completed Nail Gradient Manicure

And that's the end of my gradient nail tutorial!  I hope you enjoyed it.  Have a great Friday! :)


  1. Thanks for the tutorial! How do you get the polish on the sponge to stick to your nail?? No matter how much I slather on there, nothing ever seems to stick :(

    1. Hi Sheri! In my experience, having a base coat and/or base color always helps. I also dab relatively lightly on the nail because if I find that if I dab in the same spot too much or if I dab too hard, the nail polish starts coming off the nail. I try to do a light layer, let it dry, and do another layer after. Sometimes I even do three. Hopefully this helps!

    2. I took your advice and it worked beautifully! I was skipping the base color this whole time. Didn't know it was so important. Thanks!!

    3. Yay, that's awesome!! Glad it worked :)

  2. Oh wow~ This is a really pretty tutorial. I find it a perfect manicure for summer with the combination of reds and the yellow dots. :)

    Love, Aimee
    My Blog | Join my Blogiversary International Giveaway!

    1. Thanks Aimee! People have definitely said it gives off a very summery vibe!