5 Tools and Techniques to Create Flawless Gradient Nails


gradient nailsThe gradient is not going away. Not to be confused with ombré (a design that features a single color in different shades, say, sky blue to navy), a gradient is a shift from one color to another, for example, pink to orange. While the look seems easy enough to create, mastering the technique takes some practice. The good news? There’s more than one way to create the perfect polish gradient. Here, five nail artists from across the country share their favorite tool and technique for executing a seamless shade shift.



The Tool: Pigments

The Tech: Tera Wyatt, Bellevue, NE @wyatt.tera


The Tutorial: Recreate this look in five easy steps.

The Tip: Don’t share your tools. To keep pigment from contaminating your polish, be sure to designate an oval gel brush specifically for pigments.

2. gradient

The Tool: Bottle Brush

The Tech: Chaun Peth, Beverly Hills, CA @chaunlegend 

nude to pink ombre

The Tutorial: Learn to recreate this nude-to-pink color blend in four easy steps. 

The Tip: Use colors with similar undertones and apply in thin layers.


The Tool: Detail Brush

The Tech: Sabella Snyder, Los Angeles @sweetbcreations


The Tutorial: Recreate this sunset-inspired color blend in four easy steps. 

The Tip: Avoid using colors on opposite sides of the color wheel in a gradient, as the finished result will be muddled.


The Tool: Airbrush

The Tech: Robert Nguyen, Los Angeles @nailguytv 

The Tutorial: Recreate this splash of color shade shift in the easy steps.


The Tip: To ensure proper cleanup of the surrounding skin, it’s important to know the base of the airbrush paint: Gel and oil-based airbrush paints should be cleaned with alcohol, while urethane-based airbrushed paints should be cleaned with acetone.

5. gradient

The Tool: Makeup Sponge

The Tech: Jeannette Vazquez-Alfaro, Bay Shore,  NY @iluvurnailz


The Tutorial: Recreate this whimsical shade shift in three easy steps. 

The Tip: A latex-free makeup sponge is less porous and won’t absorb polish as quickly, giving you more time to transfer color to the nail.

What’s your favorite way to achieve a gradient nail design? Let us know in the comments below!

-Sigourney Nuñez, photography by Jason Bennett

This article was first published in the June 2017 issue of NAILPRO


How to Create A Flawless Gradient Nail Using Airbrush

No Nail Art Tools? No Problem! Here’s How to Execute A Gradient With a Bottle Brush

How to Use Pigment Powders to Create a Color Gradient Design 

Find Out How to Blend Three Gel Polish Colors For a Perfect Gradient 

Perfect The Gradient Using A Makeup Sponge 

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