Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tutorial: Sponging

Sponging is another method of doing gradient/fade nails, however the final look is a little different than that you will achieve by following the gradient/fade tutorial I posted previously. The previous tutorial method will result in a smooth transition from one color to the next whereas sponging leaves a "splattered" type finish. Sponging may be more desirable as it tends to require fewer and thinner coats of nail polish than the previous gradient method which can build up to a fairly thick layer of polish at the tips or base of the nail depending on the direction of the fade. In my experience it is easier to do a multi-colored fade with sponging than the previous gradient method, but you may want to experiment to see what works for you.

In addition to base and top coats you will need at least two colors of your choosing for the fade, a sponge and a sheet of scrap paper. I recommend getting the cheapest sponges you can (try dollar stores), as they can't be washed out and reused. You will be able to get numerous manicures done with one sponge, but once it's used up it's done. I also prefer the sponges that are finer in texture, with smaller holes. (For example, a finer sponge such as this one, rather than one like this.) You might want to try both kinds of sponges though and see which you prefer. You can cut the sponge into smaller pieces to work with, this will help you get the most use of it as it will provide you with more surface area. You can also try cutting the sponge into small shapes (be careful!) to sponge shapes onto your nails instead of doing a gradient. (I have not done this myself but I have seen others do it.) You can also use sponge-tipped eye shadow applicators if you prefer - this has become my favorite. Small, convenient, easily accessible and ready to use straight out of the package. I get packs of them from the dollar store so it's cheap too.

Start off, as always, with clean dry nails and apply base coat. If you would like a base of a solid color, apply the desired number of coats of that color and let it dry completely. For this tutorial I am not using a base color. I went straight to sponging on a yellow polish (see end of post for list of colors used) and I did not take it all the way down the nail.

To begin your fade, apply some nail polish on a corner of your sponge. I just "paint" the polish directly onto the sponge, however if you prefer you can get an old, un-used CD (blank CD-R's are always a good option, too) and put a drop of nail polish on the CD and then dip the corner of the sponge into the polish. Either way, after applying some polish to the sponge, dab it on the scrap paper a couple times to remove excess polish. Yes, this might feel a little wasteful but it is necessary; if you skip doing this you will get too much nail polish on your nails and the gradient/fade effect will not turn out.

Once you've dabbed off some of the excess polish, dab the sponge on your nail to apply color to the nail. Go however far down the nail you like for the design you are doing, and with each subsequent coat/color do not apply it as far down the nail. It is important to let each coat dry completely before applying the next; but this should not take long as this method does result in only a thin layer being applied at a time thus drying should only take a few minutes. Don't worry about getting nail polish on your fingers - you can clean that up once you've completed your manicure.

Once you are satisfied with the look, let the final layer of sponged on color dry, apply any additional details you may want (nail art, rhinestones etc.) and seal with top coat.

The colors used for this design were (in order of application from base of nail to tips): Sally Hansen Hard As Nails XtremeWear "Mellow Yellow", Rimmel 60 Seconds "Sunny Side", Pure Ice "Flirt Alert" (2 coats, second coat did not go as far down the nail as the first coat) and Petites "Peach Orchid" (sponged over all colors for a soft "glow" to the look).

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