How to Use the Nail Sponge for the First Time

Apply a base coat before sponging on other nail colors.
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Nail polish gives you an almost infinite number of ways to express your personality and kick up your style. While some modern nail-art techniques may look really cool, they can totally intimidate newbie polishers. One of these techniques uses a nail sponge, which can create ombre nails or a multicolored speckled finish. First timers will find that sponging is even easier than polishing. So, let go of your fear and get ready to create snappy-looking sponged nails.

Soak a cotton ball in non-acetone nail polish, and use it to remove any old nail polish that may be on your nails.

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water -- concentrating on your nails -- to remove dirt and surface oil. Rinse your hands clean and pat them dry. Wait five minute to allow the excess moisture to evaporate from your hands so that it doesn't interfere with the polish.

Apply a single coat of the lightest-colored polish to all of your nails, brushing the polish on from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. Wait three to four minutes to allow the coat to dry fully.

Tear off a 12-inch-wide by 12-inch-long piece of waxed paper, and lay it next to your workspace with the waxed side facing upward.

Drop a pea-sized amount of the one shade of polish into the waxed paper; the polish should create a tiny pool. Place a pea-sized amount of a lighter shade of polish directly beside the first so that the edges of the two polishes touch. If desired, a third shade can be added. All of the polish shades should be darker than the shade of the base coat that you previously applied.

Place a toothpick at the area where the edges of the nail polish meet, and mix the edges of the colors together gently. Do not over mix the colors. Simply combine them enough so that a solid line is no longer visible between colors.

Fill a disposable cup with 1 cup of water, and insert a clean, triangular makeup sponge into it until it is saturated. Squeeze out as much water as possible from the sponge.

Dip a small part of the sponge straight down into the polish pools on the wax paper so that all of the colors are transferred to the sponge.

Place one hand flat on the table, and gently press the sponge down onto one of your nails to transfer the polish to the nail. Use a rocking motion to apply the paint from the tip of the nail to the nail bed. You will get polish on the skin around your nail, but you will clean it up later.

Redip the sponge into the polish pools, if needed, and apply polish to the next nail in the same manner. Continue applying the polish to all remaining nails.

Wait until the nails dry completely, then apply a clear top coat of polish to all of your nails to seal in the sponge color. You may need two to three coats of clear polish, depending on how bumpy the sponge coat is.

Wait until the nails are completely dry. Dip a cotton swab in non-acetone nail polish remover and wipe off the excess polish from around your nails.

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.