This one’s for you, fellow manicure-lovers.
Today, we experimented with another DIY we saw on Pinterest, pinned from Glamour Magazine’s post “Nail Art Alert! How To Get Ombre Nails At Home“. Their instructions: pick two colors, paint a base coat of the lighter color, combine the two nail polish colors on a plastic sheet by swirling them with a toothpick, rub a sponge over it, and then rub the sponge onto our fingernails.
“We can do this!” we thought. But this turned out to be a lot harder than it looked. A lot.
Our interns Amy and Daphne tried it all. They tried the swirling.
They sponged and sponged until they ran out of nails to try.
All they got was this:
It was sort of… lame. Disappointing. Unsuccessful. The texture was rough and the colors weren’t blending very well. Instead of creating a gradient, we created a blended pink purple.
In despair, we turned to another tutorialfrom The Beauty Department. They advised us to paint the polish onto a wet sponge instead of a plastic sheet, rub onto a piece of paper, and finally “bounce it up and down in the same spot”. Our aim isn’t so good, so adjustments had to be made.
So here’s OUR version of the tutorial, one that really will work:
beautybagg’s DIY Ombre Nails Tutorial
- 2-3 nail polishes
- Makeup/foundation sponges — you can find a pack of these for $2 at Ulta. (The Glamour tutorial used a “big bathroom sponge”. We didn’t even know what that WAS. Makeup sponges are better because of their triangular shape and smoother texture)
That’s it! No toothpicks, no white base coat, no plastic sheet. Here’s what you do:
- Soak your sponge in water and squeeze out most of the water until the sponge is damp. This prevents it from absorbing the polish.
- Pick an edge of the makeup sponge and paint the first color against it. Paint the second color above it (and then the third, if you have one). Go over each stripe two or three times making sure the color is concentrated, but not dripping and with no excess paint.
- Bring the sponge to your nail, press down firmly, and rub up-and-down ever so slightly on your nail. You don’t even have to be very careful or exact. The key here is the rubbing motion — none of this “bouncing”, which just makes the texture of your nail rougher. The more you rub, the more impressively the colors will blend together. You can even slap some more polish on your sponge and do another coat if you didn’t like how it turned out the first time, since the colors will layer on top of each other.
- Do the rest of your nails, using the same area of your sponge. You can do this over and over again, and it cuts down on mess!
- Clean up the area around your nails with some polish remover and show all your jealous friends.
We didn’t have to use a plastic sheet, mix anything with toothpicks, or aim anything. That’s doable in our book! Some final tips:
- Make sure your nails are super-smooth. Get rid of that glitter polish that just won’t go away. The sponge makes the ombre effect a little spotty to begin with, so any bumps on your nail will be emphasized.
- Paint the lighter color closer to your cuticle, bolder or darker color towards the tip. If the light color is on your tip and the dark color against your cuticle, it will make your nails look short and possibly dirty.
- Use that artistic license and beauty sense; we know you have! Choose bright, bold colors. Go for blues, greens, yellows, oranges, and hot pinks! You’ll have more fun, and it’ll be your own nail creation.
Do you have any experiences with or tips for ombre-ing nails? Please share with us in the comments!
For more info on the difference between gradient nails and ombre nails, check out this awesome post by The Swatchaholic.
I love nail polish, and I really enjoy doing my own nails. There’s something about it that just feels so pampering to me. Mimi recently shared that she is just getting into doing her own nails, so I thought I’d share my nail polish basics here – these are MUST-HAVE products that I use every time I do my nails.
Base coat – I know some people skip this step, but I firmly believe this step is an ABSOLUTE MUST. Not only does a base coat shield your nails against the nail polish (so that dark colors don’t stain your nails), but it can also serve to hydrate/strengthen your nails, if you pick such a formula. Also, it helps to prep your nail surface to be smoother and allow the nail polish to be applied more evenly. To me, it’s the same concept as painting your walls – you need a primer before the paint.
I’ve tried Zoya Anchor Base Coat, Essie Sensitivity Base Coat, and Spa Ritual Lacquer Lock Colorstay Basecoat, and I find them all just to be ok – nothing great. This past winter, I noticed that the Zoya Anchor was really drying out my nails and causing them to peel, so I got Deborah Lippmann Rehydrating Base Coat – it is the BEST base coat I have ever used. It does not cause my nails to peel, and it allows the color to go on very smoothly (unlike the Spa Ritual one I used, which makes the colors go on a bit streaky). At $18, it is extremely pricey, but it is THE BEST. I HIGHLY recommend.
Top coat – A shiny top coat to put on top of your nail polish is a must! I used to love Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat, but because it has Toluene, a chemical that can be harmful (here’s a great blog post discussing it), I’ve decided that I can stand to minimize risk. I currently have Sally Hansen Insta-dry and Sally Hansen Mega Shine, and I like Insta-dry better. There is less shrinkage (when the top coat pulls the nail color away from the edge of the nail), and it dries super quickly. Also, I find the Mega Shine has a stronger smell, which I do not like.
Nail polish remover – I am a strong proponent of getting a good polish remover. I used to use whatever polish remover was available at the drugstore, but then in grad school, my friend Amy came over to my apartment for a mini mani session and she brought over Essie Naturally Clean Purifying Polish Remover. I was shocked that at how effective it was at removing polish, it didn’t smell too strongly, AND it didn’t leave my nails super dry afterwards. I quickly went out and got my own bottle. I really liked it and repurchased it twice, but then I decided to try out Sephora Dissolving Polish Remover (discontinued), which was amazing too. I now use the popular Zoya Polish Remover, which has a convenient pump top. I think I first read about it on temptalia.
Remover pads – Some cotton pads leave behind lint and sort of fray when I’m removing polish. I heard Michele (michele1218 on Youtube) mention the Handsdown Ultra Nail and Cosmetic Pads, and I had to try them. These pads have a little flap that you lift up to protect your nail polish on hands when you’re removing polish. It’s lint-free and easily takes off polish. 1 pad good for both hands or both feet. Not totally necessary, but I still highly recommend because it makes the polish removal process really painless.
What are your nail polish essentials??