Gradient Glitter Gel Nails Tutorial

After years of painting our nails and screaming our heads off from too many chips, W and I have both invested in gel nail kits in the last couple of years, and our lives have improved immensely. It is TOTALLY worth the investment to do them yourself, and once you get the supplies they pay for themselves quickly since the manicures last sooo long, and you no longer have to pay anyone in a salon. 

Now, while we love to do a solid mani in a fun color, we have also perfected a method of creating a glitter-tips manicure using loose glitter that we get asked about ALL the time. So, this tutorial in these pictures is for that manicure, along with the links to kits and products that we use (for those of you who might want to take the gel-nail plunge). However, since we don't want to leave any of you nail polish-purists out, we have also included the steps for a non-gel tutorial at the end of this post. 

Enough of the babble. Let's do nails. 

What you need:
Gel kit (includes lamp, primer, polishes, file) // What I use (get $10 off here)
Gel base coat + top coat // What I use (even if your kit comes with a base/top coat, get this stuff)
Glitter // What I use (at Michaels with coupon)
Rubbing alcohol + cotton balls
Small eyeshadow/paint brush

What you do:
1. File the entire surface of your nail and shape your nail. If you don't file the nail surface thoroughly, the polish will peel off. This step is very important.
2. Wipe off your nails with rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball.
3. Paint with gel primer.

4. Paint base coat on one hand. Be very careful not to get polish on your skin. If you do get polish on your skin, scrape it off.

5. Cure the base coat in the lamp according to the directions you get with your lamp. Mine takes 30 seconds. If possible, wear a nail glove to protect your hang from the lamp, or, just cut the fingertips off any kind of glove at your house (laytex, winter gloves, etc.).

6. After you cure the base coat in the lamp, the polish should be tacky. Apply the glitter with a small eyeshadow/paint brush. I like to start by applying a thicker line of glitter along the tip.

7. Next, tap excess glitter off the brush and carefully dab more glitter on the nail to create the gradient look.

8. Press the glitter into your nail with your finger so it stays in place.

9. Paint top coat over the glitter. Again, be careful not to get polish on your skin. Cure in the lamp.

The polish will still be tacky. If you need to add another coat of glitter, repeat steps 6-9. When you are done, wipe the nails with rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball so they are no longer sticky. Then repeat on your other hand.


You are now sufficiently tutored. Go get your glitter on.
Happy manicuring!


PS. The non-gel version of this tutorial is after the jump!

Non-Gel Gradient Glitter Nails Tutorial

What you need:
Nail file
Clear base coat
Small eyeshadow/paint brush
Fast-dry top coat (fast-dry is a must!)

What you do:
  1. File surface and shape of your nail
  2. Paint clear base coat
  3. After about 30 seconds, or once base coat is just tacky but not wet, apply glitter (as seen in steps 6 and 7 above)
  4. Press glitter
  5. Paint over glitter with top coat