My Nail Polish Obsession + DIY Gradient Manicure

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I know many of you out there have been enjoying all the nail color on clearance these days at Target. There have been many discounts on select colors from several brands including Sinful Colors, Sally Hansen, Essie & more. I for one have a serious obsession with nail polish and rarely meet a color I don’t like. 🙂

One of the techniques I enjoy doing the most is a Gradient or Ombre effect where you blend 2 or more colors. This technique actually requires quite a bit of product – so I love finding clearance deals on polish. (Be sure and check out my post HERE for a great clearance deal to watch for on Sinful Colors).

So if you aren’t familiar with this technique and are looking to try something different – it’s quite simple to do and I’ve provided a tutorial below that I hope you will find easy to follow…



  1. Cosmetic wedges – I personally use Up & Up. A bag of 32 sells for around $1.74 at Target and there’s usually a cartwheel to save a bit more.
  2. White Nail Polish – This item is optional and used as a base to make the colors pop. You can skip this – but your gradient colors may not be as vibrant. I like Sinful Colors & Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Whites – but any kind is fine.
  3. A Good Base Coat & a Top Coat. For this particular effect I find myself always reaching for my Sally Hansen Gel Shine 3D but any good top coat will do.
  4.  Scotch Tape. You can also use liquid latex but scotch tape works just fine.
  5. Two different shades of nail color. I find that shimmery polishes really enhance the gradient effect, but you can use any colors.


To get started – first use the scotch tape to cover all the skin around your nails. This effect is messy to do and the tape makes clean up a lot easier. Next apply a base coat to your nails and then a coat of white. Your white coat does not need to be perfect, but just be careful to get all the edges.


Now grab a cosmetic wedge and on the smallest rectangular side apply your 2 colors of polish. I tend to favor doing a diagonal pattern but you can get creative and do whatever you want. You can also use more than 2 colors. When you initially put your polish on the wedge it will soak up quite a bit of product, but this will slow down as you start working.


Start applying color by dabbing the polish onto your nail in quick short motions. You don’t have to worry about being perfect since you want the colors to blend, but be sure to just dab, don’t try and wipe. You need to work quickly and you need to make sure you always have enough color on your wedge. If you don’t, you may accidentally start lifting the color off your nails. So when you feel the wedge start sticking to your nail too much, it’s time to stop and add color. I find that if I am generous enough with putting my color on the wedge I only need to reload the color when I start the next nail.

You will want to do a total of 2 coats and for the first coat, you can keep dabbing until you get a nice healthy dose of color on your nails like the 2nd picture. Don’t worry about perfection until the second coat. When you are done with your second coat your nails should look like the far right photo. If you have any white left to cover- try adding a little color onto the very corner of the sponge and then dab to cover any white still showing. Once your nails are completely dry- remove that messy tape and it’s time to add your top coat!


Be generous with your top coat and the less brush strokes the better. This effect tends to leave a somewhat textured finish so a thick top coat will reduce that appearance. You can apply a second generous top coat if you want, just be sure to give your nails ample time to dry in between. And that’s it folks! I hope some of you get a chance to try this technique out and love this look as much as I do! 🙂

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  1. Here’s a tip I do with my gradients – soak up a bit of water with the cosmetic sponge first (I keep a shot glass next to me about half full of water). Then dab the square side your sponging with a couple times on a paper towel so it’s not soaked. Then paint your polishes on the damp sponge.
    You will find you use far less polish because less is soaked into the sponge! Viola! lol

  2. yvw Suzanne. Good luck & I hope you have success! if you still have trouble feel free to leave a comment after you try again- maybe I can help. 🙂

  3. I’ve tried doing this twice with no success, but am definitely willing to try your way as it looks different and without as much mess. Thanks for sharing it 🙂

  4. I’ve never heard of this technique. Like the blend of colors. Going to try it. Thanks for posting this and all the deals! 🙂

  5. You can also cut the wedges into smaller pieces and they will last even longer. I’ve done this and it works great.

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