Get Yo Nails Did: Ombre Fade

You guys, on a scaled of ashamed I’m somewhere between that time in elementary school when I couldn’t hold it any longer and that time in middle school where I tried to bump a volleyball and my front-clasping bra came undone.  Phew, here it goes: I stumbled upon The Beauty Department, which I almost immediately fell in love with prior to realizing it was founded by Lauren Conrad.  I mean, damn it, LC, every time I want to hate you I find something with your fingerprints on it that is too fun to deny.  I refuse to read your books a ghostwriter probably wrote, that’s just a step too far.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to figure out this whole ombre nail thing because when done right they look chic and stylish while retaining a certain youth that I’d like to hold on to for dear life.  I mean, come on, even HSN is selling ombre polish sets.

Since the great Fire of 2K11, I’m still building up a nail polish collection that would let me do the one color per nail method of ombre, so instead I used a makeup sponge along with Zoya MileyEssie ChinchillyZoya Petra, and OPI Lincoln Park After Dark. Maybe by the end of the summer I’ll have enough polishes to use try this out with brighter shades. (Side note: does your college neighborhood have a nail polish named after it? I didn’t think so.)

Fair warning, if you decide to try this method out, your digits are about to get dirty.  I don’t suggest doing this if you only have half an hour before your date picks you up. (Is that how dating is supposed to work? I don’t remember.)

Coat your nails with your favorite clear base.  (I’m a big fan of the Zoya Anchor Base Coat, if you’re curious.) Pop your makeup sponge into a shallow dish of water while you open all of polish bottles.  Stick to three or four of the same color family for the easiest look.  Squeeze out the sponge so it’s just a smidge damp and paint a strip of each color from the edge up.  It’s okay if they overlap, of course, because it’ll just help the fade effect that you’re obviously going for (else, why would you be trying out ombre nails?).  Stamp the sponge on a piece of scrap paper to make sure the colors are what you’re looking for.


Stamp on the paper as much as you want, but learn from my mistake and only press the sponge once per nail.  I did a bouncy sort of thing and ended up with bubbles and a bit of the foamy texture that bugs me if I pay too close attention to the final product.

Go over the sponge with each polish color again – you’ll need to do this four or five times depending on the look you’re going for – which is why you want to keep the bottles ready for use.  Put on just a dab more polish that you think you’ll need because by the time you put sponge to nail the polish with have been absorbed into the sponge because, you know, it’s a sponge. (I’m not sure I’ve ever written the word sponge in my life up until this point. I think I’ve met my quota.)

Line up the edge of the sponge to the base of your nail and press down, shifting pressure from one side to the other.  See? Told you this would get messy.


If you find that a nail or two hasn’t yet achieved the perfect light-to-dark, you can always put a bit of one (or more) polish on the sponge and go over the spots you think should be lighter (or darker).

After you’ve gone through every nail and gotten the basic fade you’re looking for, go over with your favorite top coat.  It’s okay if your nails are still a little wet because this will help the fade, just make sure you’re going from lightest color to darkest in direction. Or, if you don’t want any changes to your color, go from left to right across each nail with your top coat instead of bottom to top.

Now soak a Q-Tip (or cotton swab, I don’t know where your brand preferences lie) in nail polish remover and go around your nail to take off the excess. Ta-da!

I admittedly have neither the best manicure nor cellular photography skills, but for a first try I think my ombre nails turned out pretty okay!

Have you tried ombre? What’s your favorite look for your nails? Post pictures!

3 Responses to Get Yo Nails Did: Ombre Fade

  1. sugarmitten says:

    I love how they turned out!

  2. Pingback: Why Did No One Tell Me This Existed? Julep Maven Club. | A Little Bit Ginger

What do you think?