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20 mins

Easy gradient nails that are sure to turn heads!
Choose 2-3 (or more if you're feeling brave!) different color polishes that you think will create a nice gradation. Choosing color near each other on a color wheel will ensure this, but be crazy and out there and choose whatever you'd like.

You will need a plastic surface to paint nail polish onto, so be sure to have some wax paper or plastic sheet. I use an old tupperware lid - anything works!

Be sure to dampen your makeup sponge before getting started.

Posted by Lindsey W. Published See Lindsey W.'s 7 projects »
  • How to paint a gradient nail. Gradient Nail Art - Step 1
    Step 1

    Using the lightest color in your palette, paint your entire nail and wait for them to dry. If you're impatient, use a fast dry top coat, like Seche Vite.

  • How to paint a gradient nail. Gradient Nail Art - Step 2
    Step 2

    Paint the polish colors you've selected from lightest to darkest onto your piece of plastic. Make sure the edges of each color are touching one another.

    Using a toothpick, blend the hard line between each color. The more blending you do, the more gradual gradient you will have.

  • How to paint a gradient nail. Gradient Nail Art - Step 3
    Step 3

    With a damp makeup sponge, dab directly onto the polish a few times.

  • How to paint a gradient nail. Gradient Nail Art - Step 4
    Step 4

    Dab the sponge onto your nail, making sure to move slightly up and down on your nail to create the gradient.

    Repeat this step as many times as you'd like until you get the look you're going for, but make sure each layer is dry or you'll smudge the entire nail.

  • How to paint a gradient nail. Gradient Nail Art - Step 5
    Step 5

    Use a Q-Tip dipped in acetone to clean up the skin around your nails.

    Add a layer or two of your favorite top coat to smooth out any texture from your sponge, and that's it!

Made this project? Share your version »


FrolleinKram · Las Vegas, Nevada, US · 132 projects
I used to see this method on the internet and think 'This can't work'... Well I just tried and it's the best, neatest gradient I ever achieved. I think the secret to this is the damp sponge, right? Anyways, thanks, I'm happy. Happy
Joybells · Norfolk, Virginia, US · 23 projects
Thanks for sharing this. I have been experimenting with nail polish paintings on glass for awhile and am always looking for tips from manicurists to create special effects. I have been trying to do a gradient effect lately without much success. Your instructions say to use a wet sponge. Do you simply wet it with water or with nail polish thinner? I would have never thought to use water as I figured that would create issues transferring the polish to the surface.

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