How to Achieve Gradient Nails at Home

Gradient nails are easier to do than they look.
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Gradient nail designs feature an ombre look in which one color fades into another seamlessly. Although gradient nails look like something you can only acquire at a salon, you don't need specialized or expensive equipment to do it yourself. A disposable makeup sponge serves as the secret weapon in your mission for a beautiful gradient design. The gradient technique works with almost any colors, so be creative and see how many pretty combinations you can create.

Select two colors for your gradient design. One color must be lighter than the other.

Paint each of your nails with the lighter of the two polish colors. Allow the polish to dry.

Put a few large drops of one color on a paper plate. Next to it, put a few drops of the other color. The colors should just touch in the middle.

Swirl the colors together where they meet in the middle with a toothpick. If you want a gentle fade, only swirl the colors a little. For a longer fade, swirl the colors together in a wider area.

Dab the mixed polish with the flat part of a makeup sponge. Press down gently to pick up a thick coat of polish.

Press the painted part of the sponge on your nail firmly. Rub the sponge up and down slightly to create the gradient look. If the polish isn't as thick as you'd like, wait for it to dry and then apply another coat.

Repeat this process for each of your nails. If the sponge starts to fall apart, replace it with a new one. If you don't do this, pieces of the sponge might stick to your nails.

Wait for your nails to dry and then apply a clear topcoat. Let it dry.

Dip a cotton swab or small nail brush in nail polish remover. Rub the skin around your nails with the cotton swab to remove any polish that got on your skin.

  • Glitter polishes don't work well with this method.
  • You can also paint two colors directly on the makeup sponge.
  • After you master the two-color gradient, try three colors or more.

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.