Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gradient/Fade Tutorial

I normally don't paint my nails again for a couple days after painting them, but today I made an exception. My lovely friend Lourdes asked if I had a tutorial for gradient nails, and this was one I'd planned to do but had not gotten around to it yet. So, since she wanted to know how this is done I decided to do my nails again today and do a tutorial.

*To see an alternate method of doing a fade/gradient with the sponging technique, click here.

Mind you I didn't actually do this properly for the simple fact I just don't have the time today, you really should let each coat dry before you move on to the next but I didn't do that. It still shows a gradient/fade nicely, but when you do this be sure to let each coat dry completely (or at least almost completely) before you do the next one, ok? =)

You will need:
Base coat
A main color
A color for the gradient/fade
Clear nail polish
Top Coat

You start this off as you would any manicure, with base coat. Apply your desired first color of nail polish and let it dry completely. 

Next, get your desired color for the gradient/fade. This should be a color that is sheer but buildable. For this example I'm using NYC "Love Letters" as my base color (2 coats) and Pure Ice "Cheatin'" for the gradient. I've chosen these colors as they contrast in a way that you can easily see the effect - but your options for what colors to use for this technique are endless!

To achieve your gradient look, apply your gradient color to the tips of the nails only, like for a French manicure. It doesn't have to be perfect. You could take the color a bit further down the nail, or leave it closer to the tip depending on how far down your nail you want the color to go. Alternately, you can apply it to the base of the nail near the cuticle, so that it will fade upward toward the tip. 


Next, take your clear nail polish and use it to pull the polish downward toward the cuticle. You do this immediately after you've applied it, and do not give the polish any time to set. I recommend using a cheap clear polish for this, such as Wet N Wild or Petites, because there is an excellent chance of getting the polish in the bottle. Definitely do not use a clear polish you want to remain clear! You may also want to have some paper towels on hand to wipe the brush off before dipping it back into the bottle to avoid getting color in it, but even so still stick with a cheap polish so if it does get some color in it, it's not a big deal.


Continue on in this fashion, each time applying the gradient color further up the nail and pulling it downward a little less further until you have built up to the desired opacity at the tip. Once you have it opaque enough at the tip, do one more coat and this time pull the polish down to where you pulled the first coat to. This is optional, but often helps to really finish and define the faded appearance. Don't forget to let each coat dry completely before you do the next one!

After the final coat, apply top coat and let your nails dry completely. 



This technique is really easy, however it should be noted there is a small learning curve with it. The first time I tried it, it didn't turn out very well and I was surprised something that seemed so simple was actually a little tricky. But then again maybe you will get it perfect on your first try. ;-) Either way, a couple tries and you'll soon have the technique down and it'll be a breeze to do it! 

Here are a couple other gradient looks I have done, to show you more examples, and examples that were done properly where each coat was allowed to dry completely before the next was applied:


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