Thursday, August 15, 2013

30 Day Challenge: Gradient (with step by step instructions)

Well, this is the second time I've ever done a sponge gradient. My first time was a bit splotchy, and while everyone says it's an easy process, I still messed up more than I wanted to. So for today's mani I decided to do a step by step with some tips and tricks. Granted, it's still not the best gradient you've ever seen, I'm sure, but it's much better this time. And I really like the colors! So let's get started:

Step 1: Pick your colors/gather your materials

For my basecoat, I used NYC In a NY Minute. This is pretty great if you only want to keep your mani for a day or two, as your polish will literally pop right off after 24-48 hours. But, as the name implies, it only take a minute to dry.
Originally I planned on just using the Sally Hansen Lickety-Split Lime and China Glaze Shower Together, but decided to add the navy last minute. It was a good choice, as it added more depth to the gradient. And finally, I topped it off with everyone's favorite top coat- Seche Vite. 

Step 2: Apply as base color

Other tutorials recommend using the lightest color for your base, which is wise. It's hard enough to build up the dark colors on top of light, so I imagine unless you're using white on a dark color, stick with the light color as a base.

Now you have to be patient and let the color dry completely so it doesn't smudge when you start sponging. Like, REALLY let it dry. In the meantime you can get tape ready to protect your fingers since sponging gets pretty messy. I only taped my left hand, and yes, while it's annoying to tape every finger, it really does speed up the clean up process.

Step 3: Cut your sponge into a shape slightly smaller than your nail and prep your colors.

Do NOT use a sponge like the one pictured above! It will not work well, trust me. That is, unless you're really into getting strands of fibers stuck in your polish. Get a good blob of paint down on foil (I prefer foil over plastic) and put your colors close so that they overlap. You can use two at a time or three. I found two to be easier for building up the colors. Make sure you add the color you chose for your base, otherwise it will not blend very well. Then let the sponge soak up all the paint, and quickly dab it over your nail. I'd go up and down and to the sides to get a good blend. You'll have to do this a few times if you want the paint to be true to color. It goes relatively fast, however. 

Step 4: Continue sponging with additional colors

This is what it looked like with two colors. I had wanted more of a transition to a blue hue, but the bright lime made my shower together look more green, so I decided to add navy. 

(Also, use a sponge like the one shown in the picture above) So after a little trial and error, I found that pairing up the second and third color is easier than trying to use all three at once.  And although it's not pictured here, I'd recommend using your top coat as soon as you've finished each finger, since it will help it blend the colors even more (my right hand is more blended, but I didn't take pictures of that imagine this one, but better).

Step 5: Topcoat and clean up

Once you take off the tape you'll see how much time you saved on cleaning up the mess! Or maybe I'm just a messy, I definitely am, but considering the nature of sponging, it's pretty hard to not get it all over your fingers. 

Step 6: Marvel at the final result

Besides my pinky, which got messed up from using the wrong sponge, I think this looks pretty cool. It definitely looks awesome at a distance. Actually, you can see the gradient much better from a distance, and it looks pretty smooth. Not too shabby for my second attempt. And I love the colors, it's great for summer.

Do you have any tips on using the sponging technique? If so, share them in the comment section.

Happy painting!

P.S. Do you agree that the pictures look much better with the lightbox I built last week? I think it has really enhanced the quality.