Sunday, 3 July 2016

Nail Art Tutorial - Two Colour Gradient with Stripes

Greetings! Those who follow me on social media - FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram - will know I have a slight obsession with doing my nails. And when I say slight, I really mean major. I was finding that when I posted a photo of my latest design I was getting asked how I did it. Soooooo, I thought - why not do a step-by-step tutorial with photos?

DISCLAIMER 1: I'm not a nail professional. I just like doing my nails.

DISCLAIMER 2: I have acrylic (gel) nails, which I get done at a professional nail salon. I have these because my natural nails are extremely hard, which makes it difficult to grow them to any length because they keep snapping. Grrrrr...

DISCLAIMER 3: I'm no photographer. And when I was taking these photos the lighting wasn't very good. But I'm hoping they're good enough for you to see what's going on.
Two Colour Gradient


OK. So, let's get down to business. The look I'm going to show you is called a two colour gradient - even though I've actually used three colours. But, I'll come to that later. As you can tell by the photo I've gone for a subtle gradient with stripes. If you want to go for a stronger, more 'in your face' gradient simply use more contrasting colours. However, just a word of advice, don't try a gradient with black and white. It turns out a grey, icky mess. It's not something you want on your nails.

If you want to recreate the look I'll link back to all the products I've used to get the look. I'll also leave a list at the end of the post with the products and tools I used.

There are a number of steps to follow - but, do NOT let that put you off. They're easy to follow and you'll love the outcome.

Apply a base coat. I've heard that because I have acrylic (gel) nails I don't need to use one. However, I'm paranoid about staining my acrylics so I still use it. For this look I used, Essie All In One 3-Way Glaze 13.5 mL. Allow to dry.

Apply an under colour. This will be the colour of the stripes. See the above picture. I used, O.P.I Shorts Story. I deliberately went for a lighter colour because I'm going to do a gradient over the colour and if I used a dark colour then it would have dulled the gradient colours. Depending on the brand of polish you're using you may need two or three further coats to achieve an opaque coverage. I used two coats. Between coats allow each coat to dry before the next layer.

Oh no! What a mess.                                         No worries, we have tools to fix it!
If you're like me, more often than not, you get nail polish in other places other than your nails. No need to panic. Once the under coat has dried simply get a slanted nail brush and dip it in nail polish remover, I use Perfect Nails Non Acetone Polish Remover (this stuff is good!), lightly tap on a makeup remover pad and gently swipe away any nail polish you want to tidy up. 

STEP THREE (optional) 
Apply a coat of glitter polish. I used O.P.I Nail Lacquer - Pirouette My Whistle. This is optional. I did my nails both with and without the glitter. I like it with, it adds a little sparkle. Allow this coat to dry. 

Apply a coat of top coat.  I use Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat. Please, please, please do not skip this step because we're going to use nail striping tape and the top coat will protect the under colour and glitter. 
Tick. Tock.
Now wait. At least THIRTY MINUTES. Even if your top coat is fast drying, which Seche Vite is. Wait. If you can wait longer, then do. You don't want to risk the tape pulling off the layers of polish. So, the longer you can wait the better.

I watched  an episode of Arrow to help me pass the time... OK. I watched two episodes. Hey, I just wanted to make sure my top coat was dry. Honest.

Even super heroes need a manicure...
Apply liquid latex. I love Love LOVE this stuff. Sometimes, when I'm bored, I'll apply it to my finger, wait for it to dry, and then peel it off. Please don't judge me.

Now, you're not going to apply this stuff all over the place. And, you're applying it for a reason - to a) protect your skin when we do the gradient, and b) it makes clean up easy - because things are about to get messy!

Ah, liquid latex. How I love thee...
I use Mehron Liquid Latex. You apply it with a brush - mine didn't come with a brush so I use a brush from an empty nail polish bottle. Just apply it around your nail, getting as close as you can to the nail without actually getting any on the nail. And just to be extra careful, apply it half way to your knuckle. Wait for the latex to dry. It'll turn clear once it does. 

Apply striping tape and let your imagination run wild. There are no rules for this stage. You can apply as many or as few pieces of tape as you want. You can apply it horizontal, vertical, diagonally - or any combination of the three.
When you apply the tape make sure there are no little creases. Press the tape firmly against your nail. And when you get to the sides of your nail or cuticle be sure to press the tape firmly - you don't want any little gaps.

The tape comes in a role and if I've learned one thing about using this tape - pre-cut it. This tape is very thin and it's a pain to try to find the end if you've got latex all over your fingers. The tape is very cheap and I got mine from this seller on eBay. 

Apply your gradient. And this is where the fun starts! To get the gradient effect you need a makeup sponge wedge. I use Beauty By Zazie Cosmetic Wedges. However, this is really trial and error. I've used a few different wedges and so far these are the best ones I've used.

Time to get messy!
You're going to take the two colours you've chosen to do your gradient. For this one I'm using O.P.I Nail Lacquer - Koala Bear-Y and O.P.I Nail Lacquer - Live. Love. Carnival. Apply one stroke of each colour to the sponge (see picture above) and then gently work the sponge modestly up and down the nail to create a subtle fade. 

Create a subtle fade

You'll need to repeat step seven at least one more time. It really depends on the opaqueness of the gradient. In this example I only repeated this step twice. 

Remove the tape. Now, you do NOT want to wait until the polish has dried to remove the strips - otherwise it'll mess up your nail polish. Using a pair of tweezers (you could use your fingers, I don't as my fingers are too stubby!) pick up the end of the tape and quickly (yet gently) remove each piece of tape. 

Remove the latex. My favorite step! Use a pair of tweezers and lift up the edge of the dried latex and carefully remove it. It should come off in one piece.

Now, you may look at the colours and think - meh - but don't worry. It'll look good by the time we finish.
Let me peel you off!
Do a quick clean up. Wait for the gradient to dry and as we did in step two, do a quick clean up and remove any polish and or latex on your skin. 

Apply a coat of top coat. Actually, I applied two coats! I don't normally when using Seche Vite, but I felt that it needed it. As you can tell, once you apply the top coat, the gradient colours really pop. Allow the top coat to dry. 

STEP TWELVE (optional)
Apply a drop of fast freeze quick dry to each nail.  Honestly, you don't need this. Especially if you use Seche Vite as it dries really fast. However, I love the smell of China Glaze Fast Freeze Quick Dry Nail Polish  - again, please don't judge me! 

I really hope you enjoyed this step-by-step nail art tutorial. If you give it a go I would love to see a picture. You can leave it in the comments below or post it to one of my social media hangouts: FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Until next time!
Louise xoxoxoxox
The obligatory montage
Essie All In One 3-Way Glaze 13.5 mL
Slanted nail brush
Perfect Nails Non Acetone Polish Remover
Makeup remover pad
Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat
Mehron Liquid Latex
Striping tape
Beauty By Zazie Cosmetic Wedges
China Glaze Fast Freeze Quick Dry Nail Polish
O.P.I Shorts Story
O.P.I Nail Lacquer - Pirouette My Whistle
O.P.I Nail Lacquer - Koala Bear-Y
O.P.I Nail Lacquer - Live. Love. Carnival


  1. Wow, you are so creative and dedicated to your nails! They're gorgeous. And what better way to pass the time than watching Stephen Amell. :-)

  2. Thanks, Anna! Unfortunately, Stephen Amell is a bad influence. I should be writing not watching Arrow! However, I pass it off as research. You know - just in case I ever write s book about a super hero recently returned from an island...

  3. Louise, your nails look great! Nail polish always chips so badly on mine.

    1. Thanks! Mine used to do the same until I started using seche vite. If you aren't doing so already when you apply polish and top coat be sure to wrap the polish around the sides and end of your nails. This should help.

  4. You are an artist, and the post was fun to read even for me, of the naked nails group.

    1. Thanks? I used to belong to the naked nail brigade. But then my colleagues corrupted me. Now they're scared of the monster they've created!

  5. Wow! They're gorgeous, Louise! What fun! Thanks for sharing your tips.

    1. Thanks Mary. Thanks for stopping by!