DIY Ombre/Gradient Nails


One type of nail art that I had difficulty mastering, until right now, is the Ombre or Gradient Nail. It’s one of those easy-yet-really-hard nail art designs that look simple but can take a little time to master. The right products and good tips will help you master this chic, laid-back look in an afternoon.


  • 2-3 Nail polishes, colors of your choice
  • Base coat
  • Top coat
  • Makeup sponges
  • Any supplies you would normally use for a manicure (clippers, buffer, file, etc.)
  • Optional but highly recommended: q-tips to clean up nails

Tips on selecting supplies:

  • Select bright, opaque polishes. Sheer polishes won’t work well with this particular technique. Bright polishes show up very well and don’t need a layer of white polish as a base, which can sometimes mess up the final texture of the nail.
  • For a subtle mani, use similar colors. For a bright mani, use contrasting colors. If using bright colors, test the combination on paper to make sure the blended area doesn’t look muddy, murky, gross (you get the picture).
  • Use a high quality top coat. I am using Seche Vite. Choose your top coat wisely, it can make or break your ombre manicure!


Step 1. Prep your nails for polish, however you do it. Apply a base coat to your nails. If you choose a white base coat, you must wait until the polish is completely dry before moving on, or else you’ll ruin your mani.


Step 2. Get your makeup sponge and soak it in water. Once soaked, squeeze sponge to wring out extra water. Dampening the sponge will help the polish to go on smoothly, dry quickly, and overall blend well.

Step 3. Load your sponge with polish! Apply lot of nail polish to the sponge, as it has a tendency to absorb the polish. I easily added 3 strokes of each polish each time I loaded. Also, adding lots of polish to the sponge helps it go on the nail smoothly. I recommend you add polish to your sponge after doing each nail, but you will be the best judge of how much to use based on the consistency of your nail polishes. load-sponge

Step 4. Ready? Here we go! Stamp the sponge across the nail, one side to the other. Then stamp the sponge once higher up on the nail, and once lower on the nail. This helps create the blended look. Don’t spend too long stamping the nail or else you will create more of a spongy texture on your nail, which I don’t think you want. If you have a gently textured nail at this point, you’re fine.


Step 5. Once dried (shouldn’t take very long), go ahead and repeat step 4.

Step 6. Immediately after the second round of stamping, seal your design with your top coat. A good top coat will help blend the polishes a little further, making your layers of polish look seamless. top-coat

Step 7. Clean up your nails, and voila!


Here is my completed thumb nail. As you can see, the hot pink seamlessly blends into the red. What do you think? Easy? Difficult? What colors do you plan on using to achieve this boho look?  

6 thoughts on “DIY Ombre/Gradient Nails

  1. Great, detailed tutorial…I bought that topcoat you recommended, found it at Bed Bath & Beyond…and it is the best top coat I have ever used, love it! Thanks!

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