Gradient Nail Art Tutorial

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The most requested thing that I get asked on Instagram is how I do my gradients.  I have also been demanded (I say demanded because there are no manners and it's not even asked) to do a video.  As much as I love to take on requests and suggestions it's not always possible.  I don't have the time or the right equipment (or knowledge for that matter) to do videos for Instagram.  Now that I have my blog I figured it was the best time to go into details on how I do my gradients.  But be warned, this may become a very lengthy post.

When I first started doing gradients I use to paint the polish on the sponge and then dab it onto the nail and repeat this process until I was happy with the colour.  I found that when I did it this way I would end up with sponge bits on my nail and the polishes never blended as well as I would like.  I then discovered The Nailasaurus' tutorials on how to gradients and have followed it ever since.  I do however do mine slightly differently than Sammy does.

Things you will need:
* A sponge (I use make up wedges for my gradients)
* Baking paper or plastic bag
* Tooth picks
* Something to help with clean up (I use Emily  de Molly's Clean Up Crew - you can see my review for it here)
* And polishes of your choice.  I will be using China Glaze's Spring In My Step, Feel The Breeze and Float On.

Step by step instructions:
1. Paint your base colour and when dry added top coat.  I would say 99% of the time I use a white base for my gradients as I find it gives the best result rather than using the lightest colours.  I used OPI Alpine Snow and Seche Vite.

2.  Apply clean up aid.  I am using Emily de Molly's Clean Up Crew (shown in it's dried form).

3.  Apply one coat of each polish that you will be using onto your sponge and in the order you wish your gradient to be in.

4.  Apply one coat of each polish onto the baking paper in the same order you have put on the sponge.  Your lines of polish should be a similar width to the ones on your sponge.

5.  With a toothpick, slightly mixed each colour together.  I do this in small circles.

6.  Place the sponge into the polish on the baking paper, ensuring that the colours line up (eg. the purple on baking paper is going onto the purple on the sponge).  Now sponge the polish onto the nail.  I personally roll the sponge across the nail (similar to how you roll the stamper over your nail when stamping).  I usually do these a couple of times while moving the sponge slightly up and down the nail (so roll the polish on, position the sponge so it is slightly lower on the nail and roll the sponge across the nail again).  I do one coat on each nail first (I do one hand at a time).

7.  Repeat the above process until you are happy with the colour.  I used two coats.

8.  Remove your clean up aid and clean up any polish on you skin and cuticle area.  Apply top coat and you are done.

Helpful tip:
Most creme polishes can be used in a gradient, however some are better than others.  Look for ones that look close to opaque when painted onto the baking paper.  They will give a better colour payoff and will blend better.

So there you have it.  That's how I do my gradients using creme polishes.  I don't tend to do gradients using shimmery polishes because they are harder to clean up.  And I do glitter gradients differently do this as well.  I hope that you have found this tutorial helpful.  Let me know if there are any more tutorials you would like me to do.  


  1. Fantastic. I need to try doing a gradient again. Your gradients are always so lovely. Thank you for taking the time to show us how.

  2. Such a helpful post! The baking paper is new to me so I will definitely try that to make my gradients more seamless. I have heard people use a damp sponge but that doesn't seem to make a difference for me.And is there any way of not getting the polish while you are sponging it on under the cuticle? I notice in your pics that the colour seems to just stick to the white base. I hope all that make sense and sorry about all the questions!

  3. This is so helpful! Your gradients always look flawless!