How to Do Dip Dye Nails

How to Do Dip Dye Nails

Whether you call it the dip dye, ombre, or gradient nail effect, this nail art technique is gorgeous and in style. Blending and fading colors on your nails is something you can learn how to do yourself, rather than paying to have it done at a salon. Find out how to prepare your nails, choose a neat color combination, create the effect, and finish it off with a professional touch.


Part One: Getting Your Nails Ready

1. Remove old polish. This technique looks best on freshly groomed nails. Start by using a nail polish remover to take off the old polish.


2. Trim and file your nails. Shape your nails to make them uniform and neat. Since you’re going to be using more than one color on each nail, try not to trim them too short. It’s better to have a larger surface to work with.


3. Apply a base coat. Base coats protect your nails from being stained or damaged by paint and glitter you apply. They are usually clear or clear blue, and you can buy them wherever you buy nail polish. Paint one layer of base polish and allow it to dry before you start the dip dye process.



Part Two: Choosing a Color Combination

1. Figure out how many colors you want to use. The ombre effect can be created with two, three or even more than three colors. Think of a rainbow that blends from one color to the next. Your only limitation is the size and the nail length.
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  • Consider using acrylic nails if you want to add more colors. You can buy a longer length and add as many shades as you want.
  • Short nails look best with just two colors. If you try to add more, you risk having all the colors blend too much, and they might turn out looking smudged.


2. Pick out the colors you want to use. The dip dye style looks great with a combination of dark and light colors. Pick a light or neutral base color and a darker color the lighter color will fade into. Consider the following color combinations:

  • White to pink to red. This sweet combination is easy to pull off and looks beautiful any time of year.
  • Silver to black. Give yourself an edgy look with a little sparkle by fading silver into black, purple or another dark color.
  • Your favorite team colors. Show that you’re a fan by choosing your team’s colors. You can dress them up with a little glitter after the dip dye is done.
  • Complementary colors. Have you ever heard of the color wheel? Artists use it to figure out which colors look best together. Colors opposite one another on the wheel, like purple and yellow or orange and blue, are more appealing to the eye.


Part Three: Dip Dyeing Your Nails

1. Paint your nails a base color. Choose the lightest or darkest color you want to create. Let the coat dry.

  • If you want the gradient to fade from dark at the bottom of your nails to light at the tips, use the darkest color as your base paint.
  • If you want the gradient to fade from light at the bottom of your nails to dark at the tips, use the lightest color as your base paint.


2. Dampen a disposable makeup sponge. It’s important to get it a little wet so it doesn’t absorb the nail polish too quickly. Wet it under the faucet and then squeeze it out well, so it’s not holding too much water.

  • Choose a dense makeup sponge with a triangular shape. They’re available at most drug stores.
  • If you don’t have a makeup sponge, you can try using a kitchen sponge. Try to find one that doesn’t have large holes, since you’ll need an even surface.


3. Paint stripes of your gradient polish colors onto the sponge. You’ll be using the sponge as a stamp on the surface of your nail, so think about what order the colors should flow.

  • If your base paint is dark and you intend for the tips of your nails to be light, paint a stripe of your lightest nail color at the tip of the sponge. Paint the second-lightest color right below the lightest color. If you have more colors, continue painting stripes from light to dark.
  • If your base paint is light and you intend for the tips of your nails to be dark, paint a stripe of your darkest nail color at the tip of the sponge. Paint the second-darkest color right below the darkest color. If you have more colors, continue painting strips from dark to light.


4. Do a test stamp. Press the sponge lightly against a piece of paper or another flat surface. Dab the sponge in the same place a few times so the colors blend and you can see the ombre effect. Do you like the way the colors look?

  • Take care not to smear the stripes together too much. They should blend a little, but you should still be able to see the distinct colors.
  • If you’re not happy with the colors, now is the time to change them. Wash out the sponge and paint the colors you want to use on your nails.


5. Stamp your nails. Reapply the paint stripes on the sponge. Line up the tip of your sponge with the tip of your first nail, so the end of the top stripe is aligned with the end of your nail. Press the sponge against your nail to transfer the colors. Smudge the sponge up and down just a bit to blend the colors.


  • Make sure the sponge is lined up straight when you apply it, so the ombre effect does not end up looking crooked.
  • Continue stamping each nail this way, reapplying more nail polish to the sponge as needed.


Part Four: Finishing the Look

1. Clean up the edges. Use a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover to carefully remove the nail polish from your fingers around your nails. If you’re happy with the way your nails turned out, allow them to dry.


2. Add a top coat. Finish it off with a coat of clear polish to help your ombre look last longer. You could also add a layer of clear glitter polish for a striking effect.


3. Finished.



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