Gorgeous ombre nails are a design style that’s not going away anytime soon. Why? Because ombre nail designs work great with any type of nail shape. Ombre nails are also extremely versatile when it comes to styling. You can rock an ombre mani no matter the season, just another reason why this is such so popular manicure choice. Grey ombre for fall, dark red for winter, pastels for spring, and super-saturated colors in summer.
To help you create your own ombre design at home I’ve put together a step-by-step ombre nails tutorial that will take you through how to do an easy DIY ombre manicure yourself.
What are ombre nails?
OK first things first, if you haven’t heard of this style before all you need to know is that ombre nails are a manicure in which the nail polish color (or gel color) is made using a color gradient. Usually, a lighter color at the tip of the nail slowly transitions to a darker color at the base of the nail.
How to do ombre nails at home tutorial
Doing your own ombre nails is fairly straightforward and not as complicated as it looks. The biggest challenge is having enough patience to wait for the different layers of color to dry between coats and getting the sponging technique down.
If you’re like me and just don’t have that kind of time or patience, I recommend doing your ombre design using gel polish. That way you can flash cure each layer of color in seconds rather than waiting minutes with traditional polish.
Be sure to get the best gel polish you can because quality matters when it comes to gel. Not all gel polishes are created equal.
To do your own ombre manicure all you need is a makeup sponge and at least 2 colors of regular nail polish plus a neutral or white base coat & clear top coat.
- Makeup sponge
- White or neutral base coat color
- Mani tape, liquid latex, Elmer’s glue, or scotch tape to create a barrier
- 2 colors, preferable those that are right next to each other on the rainbow
- Top coat
Here’s a foolproof easy way to do your own ombre nail design at home.
Step 1: Prep your nails
Prep your nails by thoroughly removing any old polish with some nail polish remover.
Step 2: Appy a base coat
Just like any good manicure, apply a base coat. If you don’t have any, white nail polish works great too. Make sure you wait until your base coat is fully dry before you move into the next step.
Step 3: Apply your nail barrier
Using either mani tape (this is the best and easier option) or liquid latex, apply a barrier all the way around your nail to protect your skin from the polish you will be sponging on in step 4.
Step 4: Apply colors to the sponge
Apply the colors to the sponge. Then dab the sponge onto your nail. You will have to apply polish to your sponge several times to transfer enough polish onto your nail so that it builds up enough saturation. Wait three minutes between each coat before reapplying. Take your time with this.
If you can avoid sheer nail polish as it contains less color pigment and will make this process take A LOT longer than it needs to.
Step 5: Apply a high gloss top coat
Finish off your ombre manicure with a top coat. I prefer to use a high gloss top coat as it adds more dimension to the ombre effect and helps to bring out saturated colors to make them pop. A quality top coat will also protect the ombre design underneath and give your manicure added longevity.
Step 6: Remove your nail barrier & clean up
Once you’ve finished applying your top coat, go ahead and slowly remove the nail barrier. You can clean up any residual nail polish that got onto your cuticles or skin with an angled makeup brush dipped in acetone. Avoid using q-tips or cotton balls to do your cleanup as it’s easy to accidentally remove part of your ombre design.
Let your nails dry thoroughly and that’s it! You can do this same process with gel nail polish you just have to cure each layer with a UV lamp before reapplying your polish.
Sometimes this gradient is revered and tips are dark and lighter toward the base. This is called a reverse-ombre nail design.
Now that you know how to do your own ombre nails, get ready to be totally inspired by these amazing ombre designs. And, if doing your own nails just isn’t for you, save your favorites to your phone and share them with your favorite nail tech next time you’re at the salon.
1. Blue ombre nails
Feeling blue? Or in a blue sort of mood? These whimsical blue acrylics are perfect for spring or a flirty everyday look. For more inspiration check out my post on flirty blue ombre nails.
2. Pink ombre nail design
These pink ombre nails are sitting pretty. Cute, cheeky, and just in time for warm-weather fun. Also, they pair adorably with a pair of white sneakers and a crisp tennis skirt.
3. Summer ombre nails
Just in time for swimsuit season, this colorful set of nails is guaranteed to get you compliments. Plus, they look like you dipped your nails in every flavor at the ice cream shop.
Like this and want more ideas ombre idea for summer? Check out our post on summer ombre nails.
4. French ombre nail design
Three words, classy, timeless, and polished. That’s what this unique French ombre manicure has to offer and who wouldn’t want that!?
I love how the classic transition on these French tip nails are softened by the ombre application. So pretty and feminine.
5. Coffin ombre nails
Coffin nails come in all lengths and color combos, including ombre. These beauties are a creative masterpiece with lovely blue butterfly stickers and dreamy cloudscapes. Personally I love these baby blue nails.
6. White ombre nails
Like a faded pair of Levis 501s, any set of white nails never go out of style. These understated claws are sure to garner compliments. For more inspiartion check out “White Gel Nails & Fun Designs.”
7. Pink and white
Soft and eternally feminine, these pink and white ombre nails will make all your princess dreams come through. Add a streak of gold and your metaphorical crown is now on full display. These would be such fun birthday nails.
8. Black ombre nail design
What’s NOT to love about this mysterious set of nails? Bedazzled with custom moons and stars nail art this set is nothing if not enchanting. This is the perfect manicure if you’re going for that fortune teller vibe on Halloween.
9. Glitter ombre nails
Calling all mermaids! This aqua ombre manicure sings its own siren song. Sigh. Bring me to the beach!
10. Purple ombre
Purple is all the rage. And why not? Purple is the color of royalty. These dreamy multi-hued purple ombre nails will have people dropping curtseys in the street as you walk by.
11. Red ombre nails
Drop-dead gorgeous red gradient nails are sure to seduce. Add a little red glitter for extra eye-catching sparkle and you’re set for a night out on the town with these coffin-shaped nails. Also would make a great manicure for a Holiday or Christmas party.
12. Nude ombre nails
Neutral and modern, nude nails are perfect for everyday wear, to the office, to the gym, to a bridal shower. These nails will fit in with any style or outfit and transition seamlessly from day to night.
13. Short ombre nails
Got short nails? No problem, you can rock your short nails with any ombre design. Your imagination is the only limitation. Want some nail art with neon colors and fluffy white clouds? You got it. 🙂
For more nail art done on short nails check out this list of Short Nail Designs that are full or personality.
14. Two-tone ombre nails
A two-toned ombre nail design takes ombre to a whole new level transitioning in ombre tones from left to right as well as top to bottom.
15. Rose gold ombre nails
Any set of rose gold nails are just plain pretty. For nail art that is simple & elegant, the added sparkle on these beauties courtesy of some expertly place gold glitter light up this manicure like a flute of champagne at a royal ball. This manicure is perfect for a bride’s maid or New Year’s Eve party.
16. Orange ombre nails
Juicy orange nails are a burst of sunshine on a rainy day. They’re also the perfect shade of sherbert to entice even the most reluctant onlooker into dropping a compliment. Love these orange nails, especially for summer or a trip to the beach.
17. Yellow ombre nails
Happy. Yes, yellow ombre nails are about as happy a combination as you can get. Brighten up your nails with this original yellow gradient nail design.
18. Fall ombre nails
With autumn come muted tones and falling leaves. Why not do a horizontal ombre set of cute fall nails with subdued hues of black, beige, nude, and white.
19. Green ombre nails
Green ombre nails will inspire jealous looks wherever you go. Wanna get extra envious? Opt for neon green nails and get the best of both worlds.
20. Royal blue ombre
From Greece to England royal blue leave an impression and these sensational blue nails are no exception. The beautiful nail art with dainty blue flowers makes this manicure fit for a queen.
21. Natural ombre nails
The third set on our list that speaks to timeless beauty, natural ombre nails are just that, natural-looking classic nails. This lovely set of almond-shaped nails will have you staring at your hands for hours at a time. Please avoid this while driving. 😉
22. Ombre stiletto nails
Nothing says you have a sharp whit and aren’t afraid to use it quite like a set of radical ombre stiletto nails. Smart? Check. Sexy. Check. Dangerous? Definitely.
23. Burgundy ombre nails
A deeper shade of red, blood-red burgundy nails had their heyday gracing Uma Thurman’s nails in Pulp Fiction. These burgundy nails take this a set further by bejeweling the cuticle line with sparkling Swarovski crystals.
24. Grey ombre nails
This pair of faded grey nails with a hint of blush at the nail base is a statement manicure. Grey is bold and plays well with many other warm tones. Also, neon.
25. Lavender 1983’s cool ombre nails
OK let’s get real, lavender is THE color of the season after purple, it’s OG hue. Clearly a birthday set of claws, this lovely gal surely knows how to party. Want more? Check out my post on Lavender Ombre Nails for more design inspiration and design ideas.
26. Red and black stiletto ombre nails
Feeling like a demon slayer? Then these red and black ombre stiletto claws are for you. Vampire stalking you? No problem, you have 10 stakes ready to go right at your fingertips, literally.
27. Ombre nails with diamonds
For exclusive entry into the glitterati, you’ll need a set of nails with diamonds. These sparkly beauties are only enriched by the classy coffin shape with a french manicure.
28. Ombre almond nails
Technically almond nails are not a shade or a design but rather a nail shape. But since you asked, here is an original set of black and blue ombre almond nails.
29. Neon ombre nails
The 80s are back and so are screamingly bright neon shades in every color of the rainbow. Check out this unapologetically bold gel manicure that’s sure to set your fans aflame.
30. Psychedelic tie-dye ombre nails
Voted most original by our editorial team these psychedelic-inspired tie-dye nails are the perfect choice for the summer music festival season. SXSW here we come!
31. Cranberry ombre nails
Love this dark cranberry wine ombre nail pairing with dark, almost black nail tips. It’s the perfect moody manicure for winter or Thanksgiving dinner.
Ombre nail designs takeaways
From hair to nails, transitional ombre tones are here to stay. Why not play a little and dip your nails into more than one color that transforms like magic into another hue?
The ombre effect is best applied on acrylic nails or gel manicures. While dip powder nails can be used to create an ombre manicure, a little more practice is needed to achieve a flawless color gradient.
Laura enjoys writing about beauty and fashion. Her favorite city is Barcelona and her favorite food is Italian pizza. When not writing you can find her enjoying reading a good book with her French Bulldog.