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What’s a great way to add some D-I-Y artistic flair to your fingers without whittling hours away?

An ombré manicure!

Varnish covered this in a post last month, and I’ve been meaning to try it ever since. Not to mention, I see a new variation of the ubiquitous ombré on Pinterest at least once a week, and I can’t take it anymore. Now, it’s my turn.

The key to painting a gradient that makes sense and looks good is access to a good-sized stash of polish. With my collection and my neighbor Celeste’s (hi Celeste!) combined, I was able to come up with an ombré that was not too shabby!

I knew I wanted to create a gray spectrum, but I debated and debated over how much contrast I should aim for. In other words, how stark a gradient should I paint? In the end, I opted for a subtle, charcoal-y spectrum, but I’ll show you my other idea in case you want to try it. I think it would look pretty sweet.

Here's my idea for a high-contrast gray gradient. From thumb to pinky, the colors move from light to dark.

Here's version 2 of a possible high-contrast gray gradient. From thumb to pinky, the colors start with black and fade to white.

Aaand here's what I actually did. Even though I tested on my index card, the gradient wasn't as distinct as I'd hoped for.

Ombré Tips (pun intended)

  • Try painting on an envelope or index card first, so that you can see how the colors will really look side by side, or see what you’re missing (though as you’ll see below, that’s not a foolproof method)
  • I recommend sticking with one formula throughout your spectrum; I used all crème polishes for a consistent look
  • A little planning beforehand will go a long way; if you’ve got your heart set on a plum to lavender gradient, but are missing that perfect shade of purple, check with your friends to see if they can help you with your missing link before you sacrifice the look by using the wrong shade or, worse, shell out cash on a new bottle that you may not really need

My line-up. Six colors, five fingers. Decisions must be made... Someone must be cut! From left: Sally Hansen Black Heart, CND Asphalt, Nubar Stronghold, Illamasqua DWS, Orly Mirror Mirror and OPI Alpine Snow. In the end, Alpine Snow was booted.

New base coat, recommended by Kris. I don't love it more than my usual Essie, but I think I like it just as much. Essie for smoothing, Orly for extra chip resistance.

Here's the finish of Orly Bonder; it's a little matte and feels slightly sticky to the touch.

My grays — indirect sunlight. You can see some decent variation...

The grays in direct sunlight.

Have you done any artsy ombrés? Send them my way and I’ll be sure to post ‘em!

xxo, GLOSS

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