Tutorial: Gradient Manicure

Well, it’s not a Ryan Gosling hot man-icure, but since today was such a nice, grey, rainy day, I decided to have another go at the gradient manicure!

The How-To

What you’ll need:

  • 3 nail polish colors – I used Body Language, Merino Cool, and Angora Cardi by Essie
  • Base coat and top coat – my faves are CND Stickey and Seche Vite
  • Nail polish remover
  • Make-up wedge sponges
  • A bowl of water
  • A piece of paper
  • A small flat paint brush (for clean up, but cotton buds will also work)
  • Scotch tape


  1. After brushing on base coat, line the sides of your nails with scotch tape.  This will make the clean up job after much less painful.
  2. Dip your sponge into the bowl of water and pat the surface of the sponge to get rid of any excess water.  This will prevent the sponge from soaking up too much nail polish and help transfer the color onto your nail.
  3. Using the 3 selected colors, paint 3 stripes onto the wedge sponge, with the color you want on the end of your nail at the edge of your sponge.  Use a lot of polish, otherwise the first coat on your nails will look very sheer.
  4. Lightly bounce the sponge a few times onto a piece of paper, making sure to wiggle the sponge a little to blend the colors.
  5. Bounce the sponge a few times onto the surface of your nail.  If the 3 stripes of color are still very separated, shift the sponge up and down your nail as you bounce the sponge to further blend the colors.
  6. If you use enough nail polish on the wedge sponge, you should be able to do 2-3 nails without reapplying polish on the sponge.  Make sure that the sponge doesn’t dry out too much, otherwise bits of the sponge will be left on your nail!
  7. Remove the scotch tape. Remove any nail polish left on your skin with a paintbrush dipped in nail polish remover.  I find this more precise than using a cotton tip.
  8. Apply top coat to seal it off, and then you’re done!

As a final tip, I would definitely choose the colors carefully — my first attempt was green/grey and looked horribly ghoulish!